BJP and Congress to boycott Assembly’s silver jubilee event

Speaker, Chief Minister and his deputy to speak at event

The Delhi Assembly’s 25th anniversary celebration on Saturday is set to be an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-only event, with the BJP and the Congress on Thursday saying they would boycott it.

On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the first sitting of the Assembly on December 14, 1993, the Opposition BJP and the Congress, which was in majority in the House for 15 years, distanced themselves from Saturday’s event.

On Tuesday, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani had backed out as the chief guest for the event. Speaker Ram Niwas Goel said Mr. Advani had earlier “happily agreed” to attend the event, but then informed him of his “inability to attend”.

Mr. Goel said he had met Mr. Advani, who had been the first chairperson of the Delhi Metropolitan Council, which preceded the Assembly, to invite him. Other leaders, including former Chief Ministers, had also been invited, he said.

When asked about the programme, Mr. Goel said that apart from himself, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia would speak at the event.

Announcing that the four BJP MLAs would boycott the event, Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta said the decision to give the event a miss was taken at a meeting of the BJP legislators. “At the meeting, it was decided that the Kejriwal-led government, which threw democratic values, the Constitution and the Delhi Assembly Rules to the wind during the last almost four years, has no moral right to celebrate the silver jubilee of the Delhi Assembly,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Gupta said the voice of the opposition was suppressed and members were not allowed to raise public interest issues, in addition to being “humiliated and marshalled out of the House on flimsy grounds”.

Assam Governor

Another senior BJP leader and former Delhi MLA, Assam Governor Professor Jagdish Mukhi told The Hindu over the phone that he too would not be in attendance and had conveyed his decision to the individuals concerned.

Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken said in a statement that the party had decided to “boycott” the silver jubilee because “unfortunately, as always in the last four years in Delhi, politics has prevailed over institution building and decency”.

Mr. Maken said he had been the youngest MLA when the Assembly was formed in 1993 and had gone on to become the youngest Speaker of a legislative assembly in the country at that time.

He said the celebration should have been apolitical, with an all-party celebration committee planning the event.

“Sheila Dikshit, as ex-Chief Minister for 15 out of the 25 years in the same Assembly, should have been called respectfully by the present Chief Minister and/or Speaker at least over the phone, if not personally. The same should have been followed for all former Speakers and Chief Ministers,” he said.

Mr. Maken said that the party had decided to boycott the event after discussion with senior leaders, including Ms. Dikshit and former Speakers.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 9:51:53 PM |

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