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House adjourned again: No Mayor for now

New Delhi: For the second time this month, Delhi’s bid to elect Mayor and Deputy Mayor was derailed as the House was adjourned till further notice by the L-G-appointed Presiding Officer following a ruckus by some councillors.

The adjournment prompted councillors, 13 MLAs and three Rajya Sabha MPs of the Aam Aadmi Party to sit on a dharna for nearly four hours against the BJP at the Civic Centre, demanding immediate polls.

The day began with the oath-taking of 249 councillors amid unusual heavy deployment of civil defence personnel and marshals. Paramilitary personnel, who were equipped with anti-riot equipment, were also deployed outside the House.

Presiding Officer Satya Sharma administered the oath to the nominated members before the elected representatives of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

It was adjourned minutes before voting for Mayor’s election could begin due to sloganeering from BJP and AAP. Earlier this month, the House was adjourned due to severe chaos and unruly behaviour from both parties. On January 6, the inaugural House had barely begun when clashes between AAP and BJP ensued, no councillors were sworn in during the session.

There were brief interruptions and friendly sloganeering from both sides during the oath of councillors, including religious slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Allah Hu Akbar’ and ‘Wahe Guru Da Khalsa Wahe Guru Di Fateh’ but all councillors were able to finish taking their oath by 2.20 pm.

Soon after the oath-taking exercise was completed, the House was adjourned for a 15-minute break.

When the House reconvened, disruption ensued amid sloganeering by BJP and AAP members who came face-to-face, following which Presiding Officer Satya Sharma, a BJP councillor, adjourned the House until further notice, angering AAP councillors. Some BJP councillors left their seats and raised slogans.

AAP MLA Durgesh Pathak, who along with his party’s members sat on a dharna in the House, demanded that BJP councillors return to the House for the mayoral elections.

Refusing to vacate the House, the AAP councillors spent their time singing religious hymns and patriotic songs. Some of the songs were: ‘Achyutam Keshavam’ and ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’.

AAP members called off their “dharna” around 7.30 pm amid chants of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Arvind Kejriwal Zindabad’.

Rekha Gupta, the BJP’s mayoral candidate and a three-time councillor from Shalimar Bagh, also staged a dharna at the Civic Centre. Gupta claimed that the AAP started the ruckus that led to the adjournment of the House. There was an unprecedented level of security measures at the MCD headquarters both inside the House and around the Civic Centre premise due to the sensitive situation. AAP leader Saurabh Bhardwaj in a tweet criticised this stating, “I have been a Vidhan Sabha member for the last three years, till date I have not seen paramilitary forces entering the House with weapons”. Police personnel were seen carrying guns and lathis.

Senior AAP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia asked the BJP to accept its defeat in the MCD polls and help ensure the smooth conduct of mayoral elections.

“Everyone saw the drama of the BJP. The public had got fed up with their rule in the MCD. They gave mountains of garbage to Delhi and ruined the entire capital,” Sisodia said.

“First, they avoided the MCD elections and when the public showed them the door, they are running away from the election of mayor,” he said.

Delhi BJP MP Manoj Tiwari alleged the AAP was running away from the elections of mayor and deputy mayor despite having a majority in the MCD.

The North East Delhi MP also alleged that AAP leaders, including party councillors, misbehaved with BJP members.

After the 15-minute adjournment on Tuesday, BJP councillors went towards the benches where AAP councillors were sitting and raised slogans. A few councillors from both parties then entered into a heated exchange on one of the aisles of the House.

This prompted Presiding Officer Sharma to adjourn the House till a further date. “A House cannot run like this. This House is adjourned till next date,” Satya Sharma said.

Enraged by the move, the AAP accused the saffron party of adjourning the House because it does not have the number for the mayoral polls.

“The BJP doesn’t have numbers that’s why he has adjourned the House. All our councillors are sitting here. If you have guts then come and get voting done. Respect the mandate of the people of Delhi,” Pathak had said earlier in the day.

Security personnel were deployed inside the municipal House, the Civic Centre premises and even the Well to avoid a repeat of the chaos seen during the last meeting on January 6.

AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh alleged that this is a very dangerous trend started by the BJP. “This is an insult to the mandate of the people and democracy,” he said.

AAP MLA Atishi said the BJP lost the election but still they are not accepting the mandate. “Have some respect for the Constitution. We appeal again that please get the elections done soon,” she told reporters after AAP members ended their dharna inside the House.

Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor added that the way the Aam Aadmi Party disrupted the MCD House proceedings as soon as it reached the stage of the Mayor election it is apparent that CM Arvind Kejriwal doesn’t want Delhi to get a Mayor as he fears that a unified single Mayor may become more popular.

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