Independent MLA may pull plug on Delhi's AAP government

The Congress may be saved the blushes of being instrumental in pulling down Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's two-months-old Aam Admi Party government, as an independent MLA, Rambeer Shokeen, declared today that he would withdraw support to the government as its efforts to ram through its anti-corruption Jan Lokpal Bill are considered unconstitutional.

Shokeen, elected from the Mundka assembly constituency, said he would soon meet Delhi's centrally-appointed Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung to formally withdraw support to the AAP government.

If this happens, the AAP's strength in the 70-member assembly would drop to 35, one short of a majority, even if the eight Congress MLAs continue to support it.

The Congress has already declared that it will not support the passage of the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill, as without the Centre's approval it would be ultra vires the Constitution (See: Delhi may see President's rule as Kejriwal threatens to quit)

However, it does not wish to be seen as being against a corruption watchdog, and hence would be gleeful if a single independent MLA could bring down the government without its active participation.

Kejriwal has threatened to quit if the Jan Lokpal and Swaraj Bills are not passed by the Delhi assembly. He has gone so far as to insist that the lokpal bill should be passed in a public session of the Delhi assembly.

While the Jan Lokpal Bill seeks life term as maximum punishment for government servants – including the chief minister - found guilty of corruption, the Swaraj bill intends to decentralise power by segregating the city into 2,700 mohalla sabhas.

Both the bills are inspired by Kejriwal's book 'Swaraj', which questions the existing democratic framework in the country. The book itself is mired in controversy after a primary school teacher from Noida, who has written a similar book, accused the AAP chief of plagiarism.

The Congress is clear that it will not support the bill. Reports indicated that the party, which is supporting the AAP government from outside, may choose to abstain from voting.

''Congress has always maintained that it will support the Jan Lokpal Bill. Our only request to the AAP government is to follow the rules and respect the Constitution. The CM is not above the Constitution,'' Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely said.

However, the AAP asserts that the Central government's clearance is not required for the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Their view, supported by eminent jurist Soli Sorabjee, is that under the Constitution, provides the Delhi government to pass any law that does not relate to the Police, law related to police, law and order, and land.