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Delhi Assembly discusses arrest of CM, MLAs repeat poaching bid | Latest News Delhi

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Monday alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was attempting to destabilise and topple the AAP-led Delhi government. The allegations came after AAP legislator Rituraj Jha claimed that BJP leaders offered him a cabinet position and money if he switches parties, and induces 10 more MLAs to follow him.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal leaves from ED office for the Rouse Avenue Court in New Delhi on Monday. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)

The BJP dismissed the allegations as baseless, and accused the AAP of attempting to “divert attention” from chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest.

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Jha and the AAP’s allegations came in the Delhi assembly. The AAP has 62 MLAs in the 70-member House, with the remaining eight from the BJP.

To be sure, this is not the first time that the AAP has claimed that its legislators were offered money to switch over to the BJP. On January 27, Kejriwal and AAP leaders had alleged that the BJP had offered 25 crore each to seven AAP MLAs to topple his government, a claim that the BJP termed “absurd and baseless”. Subsequently, a delegation of BJP leaders met Delhi Police Commissioner Sanjay Arora on January 30 and handed him a letter, seeking an investigation into the allegations.

On Monday, Jha — the Kirari legislator — initiated a short-duration discussion on the “baseless arrest” of Kejriwal and “the threats of imposing of President’s Rule in Delhi”, and claimed that BJP leaders approached him at a wedding in Bawana on Sunday evening.

“Three-four people took me aside and told me that I should break 10 AAP MLAs and get them to join the BJP. We (the purported BJP leaders) will give everyone 25 crore and make you (Jha) a minister when BJP forms its government in Delhi. When I asked them what makes them think that we will easily break away, they said, don’t be foolish. If you don’t agree, President’s rule will be imposed in Delhi and President’s rule will remain in Delhi until the situation arises for us to form a BJP government in Delhi,” Jha claimed.

“At 9.14am on Monday, I received an internet call, where I was threatened that if I told anyone about the conversation we had last night, it would not be good for me,” he further claimed.

In response, BJP MLA Vijender Gupta said since the arrest of Kejriwal was currently under judicial scrutiny, holding any discussions on the matter, and speculative talks about the imposition of President’s Rule in Delhi, is unnecessary and misleading.

“AAP MLAs have made repeated allegations regarding offers made to them to break away from the AAP in past as well, but they have not so far lodged any formal complaints. The AAP is exploiting the privileges and sanctity of the House to mislead the public,” Gupta said.

AAP MLA from Kondli, Kuldeep Kumar — the party’s Lok Sabha candidate from East Delhi — demanded that the Election Commission of India take cognisance of Jha’s allegation. “They (the BJP) are using all means with only one purpose to make AAP MLAs join the BJP and topple the AAP government,” he said.

Amid the discussion, the House descended into chaos after AAP MLAs started protesting against Kejriwal’s arrest by trooping into the well of the House. Thereafter, BJP MLAs too began protesting, demanding that Kejriwal resign as chief minister.

The protests prompted speaker Ram Niwas Goel to adjourn proceedings of the House till April 8.

Later during a press conference, AAP chief whip Dilip Pandey repeated the poaching claim.

“MLAs are being approached in various ways and are being told that when we have arrested CM Kejriwal without any evidence and money trail, we can catch you anytime,” Pandey said.

In response, Delhi BJP spokesperson Abhay Varma said the AAP’s allegations were to divert attention from Kejriwal’s arrest.

“Similar allegations were made by (Delhi ministers) Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj a few months back. We challenged the AAP to reveal who contacted their leaders and which leaders were contacted. The AAP did not respond, and they did not cooperate with the investigation when we lodged a police complaint. Jha should disclose the name of the person offering bribes, or be prepared to face legal action,” said Verma.

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