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Kejriwal to prove majority today

Vishal Kant
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There is no threat to the government from us, says Congress

Aam Aadmi Party MLA from Rohini, Rajesh Garg Rohiniwala, arriving in his battery-operated rickshaw to take oath at the Vidhan Sabha in New Delhi on Wednesday.— PHOTO: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar
Aam Aadmi Party MLA from Rohini, Rajesh Garg Rohiniwala, arriving in his battery-operated rickshaw to take oath at the Vidhan Sabha in New Delhi on Wednesday.— PHOTO: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The first session of the fifth Delhi Assembly began on Wednesday with the newly elected MLAs taking the oath of office and secrecy.

During the session, which will end on January 7, the Arvind Kejriwal-led government will seek a vote of confidence on Thursday.

Even as Mr. Kejriwal raised concerns on Tuesday over the fate of his government, saying “he has only 48 hours to deliver on the promises, Congress leaders reiterated on Wednesday that the AAP’s apprehensions was “misplaced.”

“We have extended outside support to the AAP. The letter of support was given to the Lieutenant Governor. We stand by our decision, and there is no threat to the government from our party. But if Mr. Kejriwal is himself running away from the responsibility, I cannot comment on that,” Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Arvinder Singh said.

The AAP, which has 28 MLAs, needs at least eight MLAs to achieve a simple majority of 36 in a 70-member Assembly. The Congress has eight MLAs. The JD(U) has also offered the support of its lone MLA to the government. On the other hand, the opposition BJP and its ally Shiromani Akali Dal have a total of 32 MLAs. There is only one independent MLA.

Departing from the precedence, the AAP government has decided to prove its majority even before electing the Speaker.

“The decision might be guided by the fact that the party does not want to take any chance during the trust vote. If the AAP manages to get its candidate elected as Speaker, then he will not be able to vote during the trust vote unless it’s a tie,” said an official of the Vidhan Sabha.

Earlier, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was first to take the oath, followed by Manish Sisodia and other ministers. Only Dinesh Mohaniya of the AAP and Jai Kishan of the Congress were absent.

Having been elected for the first time, some of the AAP MLAs appeared unfamiliar with the conventions. This resulted in some funny moments and kicked up a controversy.

At one point of time, the AAP MLAs were reminded by a BJP legislator that the members need to thump the desk in appreciation as their senior leaders took turn to take the oath.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s decision to leave the proceedings, along with Mr. Sisodia shortly after taking the oath, sparked a row. “The Chief Minister is the leader of the House. I don’t think there can be anything important than the oath-taking ceremony on the first day of the session. Even if the Chief Minister and his senior most Cabinet colleague had to leave for something really urgent, he should have at least followed the convention and taken permission from the Speaker through the Assembly secretary,” BJP MLA and former Chief Whip of the party Shahib Singh Chauhan said.

However, the Congress was more forgiving, with Mr. Arvinder Singh said: “The AAP MLAs must be given some time to get accustomed to the conventions and proceedings of the House.”

While most of the MLAs took the oath in Hindi, some others in different languages. While Anil Jha of the BJP, attired in a traditional dhoti-kurta and maithili cap, took oath in Maithili, a regional language spoken in Bihar. JD(U) MLA Shoaib Iqbal and Congress MLAs Haroon Yusuf, Hasan Ahmed and Mohammed Asif took the oath in Urdu. While Rajendra Nagar MLA R.P. Singh took the oath in Punjabi, Mr. Arvinder Singh was the sole MLA to have taken the oath in English.

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