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Postponing polls weakens democratic system, let MCD elections take place: Kejriwal to PM Modi

Postponing polls weakens democratic system, let MCD elections take place: Kejriwal to PM Modi

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to let MCD elections take place in the capital, saying postponing polls weakens the democratic system.

The chief minister also asked the State Election Commissioner to not "buckle" under pressure and tell the world whether he was being "threatened or lured".

His remarks came after the Delhi State Election Commission sought the advice of legal experts on whether it can still hold polls for the three municipal corporations here following a communication from the Centre for their unification.

The Commission, after receiving the communication, had deferred the announcement of poll dates for the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation.

"This move has raised concern among the people of Delhi. They have started to worry about their democratic systems even after being residents of the capital. They want to know the reasons why the BJP-led central government did not merge the MCDs in the last 7-8 years of being in power.

"They want to know the reason behind such a cowardly move one hour before the election declaration. Did they think of merging the MCD at the very last moment?" the chief minister said at a briefing.

People think the unification excuse is a "farce", Kejriwal said and alleged that the BJP has done this in anticipation of its defeat after seeing the AAP wave.

Questioning the relationship between polls and unification of the three civic bodies, Kejriwal said, "Today, the 272 councillors of the three MCDs sit separately, after the merger they'll sit together. Why does this have to be a reason to defer elections. The merger doesn't affect the democratic system at all?

"It is clear that their modus operandi was not the merger but the postponement of the polls. This practice does not set a good precedent for the country."

He said the events that unfolded are "unfortunate and unbelievable".

"... what the central government has done should not have happened if they any respect for our democracy. The Election Commission mustn't have succumbed to the pressure mounted by the Centre. These events aren't merely unfortunate but unbelievable in the modern day context," he said.

Kejriwal urged the prime minister to ensure that the elections are not cancelled.

"With folded hands, I appeal to the prime minister to let go of such antics. Dear prime minister, governments will come and go but the country, its Constitution and its democracy are here to stay.

"Leaders like you and I are not important, political parties are not important. What truly matters is this country, is its people, and its values and they should not be infringed upon at any cost," he said.

Putting pressure on an institution like the EC, getting the election cancelled weakens its strength, he said.

"Weakening the very institution that safeguards and supervises democratic functioning weakens the social fabric of this country. It weakens the trust and faith people repose in their leaders. We all must at all cost protect our country. We must not let our institutions falter. I beseech you to not cancel the elections," he said.

Citing examples, the chief minister asked whether parliamentary elections be cancelled if some party wants to amend the parliamentary system into a presidential one.

"Can we let this happen? Can we as citizens let elections be cancelled because the ruling party wants to merge two states before their elections? Mr prime Minister, there will be no Kejriwal and no Modi in the future. Don't do this to our country, don't ruin our democracy for political goals," he said.

Kejriwal asked whether the State Election Commissioner was under any pressure.

"I don't know what fear or pressure our State Election Commissioner was under that he took such a big step. Was he threatened by the ED, CBI, Income Tax or did he face some bigger threat? He is supposed to retire in April.

"Was he lured with some post-retirement roles to be compromised in such a manner? How could he agree to postpone elections within just one hour?" he said.

Kejriwal urged the State Election Commissioner to not act in a "rogue manner" and urged him to share his fear with the country.

"If someone's threatening you, if they're luring you, please come out in the open and tell the world. The whole of India would stand behind you and protect you. Don't buckle down to their pressure. Please, don't let down our democracy, Sir," he said.

All three corporations in the city are currently ruled by the BJP, which has been controlling the civic bodies since the trifurcation of the erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in 2012.

The Commission had on Wednesday said the Centre plans to bring a bill in the Budget Session of Parliament to unify the three municipal corporations of Delhi and since the poll panel is examining the communication from Lt Governor Anil Baijal, it has decided to defer the announcement of election schedule.

"The Commission has received a communication from the Lt Governor conveying Government of India's intention to bring legislation in the ongoing session (of Parliament) for unification of the three municipal corporations.

"The Commission is examining the said communication and hence has decided to announce the election schedule later," the Delhi State Election Commission had said in a statement.

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