The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) House proceedings, which were supposed to elect the Standing Committee members, took an unexpected turn on Wednesday, when BJP councillors resorted to violence and obstructed the election process. This resulted in the adjournment of the house for the 13th time in the same sitting. Despite Mayor Dr Shelly Oberoi’s best efforts, the BJP administered a complete chaos in the house. Reports suggest that BJP leaders were seen attacking the Mayor and AAP councillors, obstructing the Standing Committee elections. The losing Mayoral Candidate from BJP, Rekha Gupta, was seen breaking the mic from the podium. Furthermore, BJP Councillor Amit Nagpal reportedly tore off the entire register of ballot papers to delay the elections. Dr Shelly Oberoi accused the BJP of deliberately ruining the decorum of the house and not letting the Standing Committee elections take place. “We will not end the session before the election is held, and proceedings will resume on Friday at 10 AM,” said Mayor Shelly Oberoi. She also mentioned that the Supreme Court has directed that the elections be held in the first sitting and that the BJP is in gross contempt of court. Reacting to the BJP’s actions, AAP Senior Leader and Rajya Sabha MP Shri Sanjay Singh said, “BJP’s frustration is showing in its actions. They’ve faced defeat in Mayoral elections, and they’ll face defeat in the Standing Committee too.” He added, “It’s shameful that BJP can’t respect the mandate delivered by two crore Delhiites.” While, AAP Senior Leader and MLA Ms Atishi appealed to the BJP to accept the mandate of the people of Delhi and let the Aam Aadmi Party form the government in MCD. She said, “BJP is trampling democracy in Delhi. Despite voting having started, BJP is saying that fresh voting should be done.”
Late in the night, BJP’s male and female councillors also came onto the stage and tried to attack the Mayor. In a video on social media, it can be seen that the act of BJP’s Mayoral candidate Rekha Gupta breaking the podium mic set during the ruckus created by her party members was recorded clearly. While, photos shared by various media personnel on social media recorded Amit Nagpal, the BJP councillor from Pitampura, tearing the entire set of ballot papers to prevent the election process from being continued and his party members also stole the ballot box to ensure that the voting ends for the night.
There are other videos circulating on social media that show the BJP councillors attack AAP councillors with bottles, apples and other items as make-shift weapons. If the marshalls were not present during the session, a huge mishap could have happened as female councillors and the Mayor of AAP were targeted by the BJP councillors. AAP’s MLAs and MPs kept trying to stop the ruckus and requesting and pleading with the BJP leaders to not strangulate the electoral process at the behest of their senior leadership, but they did not listen.
On Thursday AAP Rajya Sabha MP Shri Sanjay Singh, AAP Kalkaji MLA Ms Atishi and AAP Chief Spokesperson Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj, MCD Mayor Dr Shelly Oberoi addressed a press conference. Dr Shelly Oberoi said that the election for the Mayor and Deputy Mayor was conducted without incident yesterday but the election for the Standing Committee could not be completed. The BJP councillors continuously chose ruckus and vandalism to violate the decorum of the House, causing repeated adjournments to block the election of the standing committee.
The BJP leaders repeatedly created a ruckus in the well of the house, tried to climb onto the stage, and the house was adjourned 13 times. Dr Shelly Oberoi said that the BJP councillors attacked her and the other councillors of AAP and then vandalised the podium and lifted and threw the ballot box. Disclosing the names of those involved in today’s ruckus, she said that the podium was damaged by BJP’s Mayor Candidate Rekha Gupta while another BJP councillor Amit Nagpal tore the ballot paper booklet and other BJP leaders tried to take the ballot box in their possession and threw it around to prevent the election. She said that they will discuss these incidents in the next meeting of the House. The House has been adjourned until 10 AM on Friday.
According to the Supreme Court’s mandate, the election of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and members of the Standing Committee of MCD were to be completed yesterday, February 22. The Mayor added that she had been keen on ensuring that the order of the Supreme Court is followed and the elections are completed, but the BJP councillors did not let her finish the process.
She said that the BJP once again attempted to run the house in an unconstitutional and illegal way today, as it has been doing for over two and a half months now. The BJP mocked the constitution once again and prevented the election for MCD’s Standing Committee by violating the decorum of the house. “The people of Delhi, whose work with the MCD has been on hold for over two and a half months, will continue to suffer due to BJP’s ruckus,” Dr Oberoi added.
Countering the BJP’s allegation that the Mayor had violated the ballot’s secrecy by permitting the council members to use their mobile phones during voting, she asserted that no law prohibits the use of mobile phones inside the House during voting if they are on silent mode. Due to this no restriction was imposed on mobile phones. She said, “The video footage plainly demonstrates that I had said that council members could carry their mobile phones as per their discretion. You have the option of taking the phone if you want to, or not taking it if you don’t. The BJP is desperate to create any issue out of thin air. Moreover, we have consulted our lawyers on this. There is no legal provision that mobile phones cannot be taken inside the house during voting.”
She said that the BJP councillors demanding that all votes cast in the box so far be declared invalid, were unable to cite any legal justification so far. She added, “How can we invalidate the votes cast in the House? And do we have any solid legal grounds for claiming that the votes cast in the box up to this point were invalid?”
She hit back at BJP’s allegation that phones were allowed during the Standing Committee election when they were not allowed during the election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor. She reiterated that there is no provision that mobile phones cannot be taken inside during voting provided they are on silent mode. So whether the councillors carried their phones was up to their wish during the mayoral and deputy mayoral election as well. She said, “When the standing committee election started, there was not even a discussion on whether a ban is being imposed on mobile phones during the process or not. It is also important to note that the BJP councillors raised the issue of mobile phones after 40-45 votes had already been cast. This also puts a big question mark on their intention and tactics.”
Dr Shelly Oberoi said that AAP will try its best that the remaining votes are cast in tomorrow’s session. On being asked by a reporter about the possible scenario if BJP continues to get the House adjourned tomorrow, she said that the BJP has only cited illogical and illegal reasons to adjourn the House till now. They have not presented any valid reason for their ruckus, so there is nothing for us to consider.
AAP Rajya Sabha MP Shri Sanjay Singh hit out at the BJP councillors for acting like hooligans and said that their dictatorial demand to the Mayor shows their attitude towards the people of Delhi. He said that never before have we seen a situation such as this where voting is ongoing and a group of councillors ask for votes that have already been cast earlier to be cancelled. He asked if a voting at a booth is ongoing, can a group of people just turn up and ask for the votes to be recast, and said that this is a demand that shows the mindset of an uncivilised person or perhaps of a goon. He further said that the 45 or so votes that had already been cast at the time included those votes of both the AAP and BJP councillors. No vote can be cancelled without a valid reason, he said, and added that the Mayor had asked the BJP under which rule did they want the votes to be declared invalid.
Speaking on the issue of BJP demanding that phones not be allowed while voting, Shri Sanjay Singh said that there is no rule that prohibits phones from being kept by the person who has to vote. He further pointed out that even during the MCD election that took place in December last year, the notification issued by the Delhi State Election Commission says that “voters can carry their phones to the polling booths”. He added that if carrying mobile phones to the booth is a violation of secrecy as claimed by the BJP, then why would the State Election Commission allow such a thing. He highlighted how the SEC does not have a problem with this issue, but yet the BJP councillors are creating a fuss over the matter in the MCD. He also said that this is an unreasonable demand of the BJP, and if listens to such a demand today, then in the future they will make more such arbitrary demands such as not allowing a person to wear a shirt and vote or not letting a person who is wearing a T-shirt to vote.
He rapped the BJP for not listening to the desires of the residents of Delhi and behaving like they are above the democratic process as well. He said that there is a reason that the BJP was voted out of power by over 2 crore residents of Delhi and they should abide by the decision of the people. He also pointed out that it was because of the arrogant nature of the party that they went on to lose in the MCD and further even the elections for the post of Mayor and Deputy Mayor. Now it was clear that they would lose in the Standing Committee as well, and therefore they resorted to such hooliganism. They are also not willing to listen to what the independent institutions such as the Supreme Court have ordered, and said that the party is very bullish and believes that the political party is above everyone else.
He also highlighted how yesterday the BJP very proudly displayed to the people of the country that they had indulged in horse-trading of votes. “Yesterday AAP had 150 votes in its favour and won the election for the post of the Mayor, but the BJP is interested in another form of politics. On their official Twitter handle yesterday, they shared a post claiming to have bought some votes of AAP legislators. They seem to take pride in such things and have started to announce to the country that they are freely horse-trading in the MCD House. This must be the first such political party that officially announces that it has brought votes of opposition leaders. This is why we call them the “Bharatiya Beiman Party”. It is very unfortunate that the country is being run by such a political party.”
Senior AAP leader Ms Atishi asked what kind of a precedent is the BJP trying to set and said that their demand to invalidate certain votes was without any basis. She said that if the Mayor gave in to those demands, then it would be the mockery of democracy. She said that if this is the precedent that the BJP wants to set, then in the future no election will be made possible, because the losing party will always ask for a revote. She alleged that the BJP in the MCD House is making a mockery of democracy.
Ms Atishi appealed to the BJP to accept the mandate of the residents of Delhi and give AAP the opportunity to work for the next five years. “My only appeal to the BJP is that they have to learn to accept the mandate of the people. They were given an opportunity to run the government at the MCD for the last 15 years, but now the people have thrown them out of power and they have to accept it. The residents of Delhi gave AAP a convincing win and therefore the BJP should let AAP form the government and run the MCD for the next five years. If AAP fail to deliver then the BJP has the right to go to the people five year later and ask for their votes. This is what is called a democracy. Until last week the BJP was claiming that AAP had made an attempt to ‘buy’ its councillors. Today they are saying that they have managed to buy AAP councillors and ensured that some cross-voting took place. Therefore it is clear that they did not want the elections in the MCD to be conducted and therefore during each sitting of the House they have tried to look for some excuse or the other to delay the voting process.”