New Delhi: The Delhi Assembly on Friday adopted a resolution on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in which it was demanded that the Bharat Ratna awarded to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi be withdrawn.
The move soon kicked off a massive political row with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Alka Lamba claiming that the party leadership has asked her to resign as she stood against the resolution.
Lamba said she was ready to face “any consequences” and claimed she spoke to AAP supremo and CM Kejriwal who, she said, asked her to resign as MLA. “I am ready to do so”, she said.
The Chandni Chowk MLA said she was not happy with the demand to take back Bharat Ratna from Gandhi and staged a walkout in protest.
“Party has asked for my resignation. I’m ready to resign but Rajiv Gandhi has sacrificed a lot for the country and I didn’t support the proposal in Delhi Assembly of taking back his Bharat Ratna. I’ve been asked to resign because I stood against the decision of the party,” Lamba told ANI.
In a tweet, she said, “I was asked to support the resolution demanding taking back the Bharat Ratna awarded to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Since I didn’t agree to this, I staged a walk out. I am ready to accept whatever punishment given to me.
Interestingly, the AAP later distanced itself from the resolution.
The party issued a clarification saying that the portion relating to the former PM cannot be considered a part of the resolution because it was “handwritten”.
“Lines about the late Rajiv Gandhi were not part of the resolution placed before the house and distributed among members. One MLA in his handwriting proposed an addition/amendment about the late Rajiv Gandhi. Amendments cannot be passed in this manner,” tweeted party MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj.
Terming the anti-Sikh riots as one of the worst genocides in the national capital’s history, the resolution noted that “justice continues to elude” the families of the victims.
AAP MLA Jarnail Singh, while moving the resolution in the Assembly, had mentioned Rajiv Gandhi’s name while reading the text and had demanded that the Bharat Ratna to the Congress leader be withdrawn for “justifying anti-Sikh riots”.
But after Bhardwaj’s remarks, Singh said it was only a technical shortcoming. He said though the reference to Gandhi in the resolution was not there in the written copies, it was made orally and passed by the House by voice vote.
After Bharadwaj tweeted, Jarnail Singh said, “At the last moment Somnath Bharti (MLA) gave me the third point about Rajiv Gandhi. The technical issue is that the third point was not there in the copies distributed to the members of the House. But everything happened on record despite the technical shortcoming.”
As the controversy raged, Bharti said the reference to Gandhi “was not part of the passed resolution” as the amendment was not put to vote separately. The party had no opportunity to see the same, he tweeted.
Reacting to the development, the Delhi unit of Congress dubbed AAP as the ‘B team’ of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was showing its true colours.
Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken asserted that Rajiv Gandhi sacrificed his life for the country, in reply to ruling party’s attacks on the former prime minister in the House, and a resolution that demanded taking back the country’s highest civilian award bestowed on him.
“Sh. Rajiv Gandhi sacrificed his life for the country. True colours of AAP have come out in the open! I have always believed that AAP is the B team of BJP! AAP fielded candidates in Goa, Punjab, MP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh just to cut the votes of Congress and help the BJP (sic),” Maken said in reply to a tweet.
The development comes at a time when there are speculations of possibility of an alliance between the AAP and the Congress in Delhi for Lok Sabha Elections 2019.