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Legal battle not over yet as AAP to file fresh plea but Arvind Kejriwal gets into campaigning mode for imminent by-election to 20 seats

With President Ram Nath Kovind giving his assent to the Election Commission’s recommendation for disqualifying 20 MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party on Sunday, six former legislators who had moved the Delhi High Court seeking an interim stay on the order have now withdrawn their plea. However, party sources have indicated that a fresh petition will be filed before the Delhi High Court factoring in the final order of the President on the disqualifications.

The Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti – who demitted office on Monday (January 22) had on last Friday, in a major blow to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP recommended o the President that the 20 legislators be disqualified on grounds of holding offices of profit. The order was based on the CEC’s understanding that the legislators were serving as parliamentary secretaries in various departments of the Delhi government and the post was tantamount to holding an office of profit.

The AAP had moved the Delhi High Court immediately after media reports surfaced about the poll panel chief’s recommendation to the President and sought an interim stay on the disqualifications. However, Justice Rekha Palli of the Delhi High Court had refused to grant the interim stay as exact contents of the EC’s order were not known then. Justice Palli had, however, told the agitating AAP legislators that she would hear the matter on Monday (January 22).

With the President giving his nod to the poll panel’s recommendation, the six legislators who had moved court have now withdrawn the earlier petition stating that their petition had now become infructuous.

Sources said that since the party is alive to the possibility of the former legislators not getting any relief from the Delhi High Court, its leaders – including chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia – have already begun strategising for the imminent by-election to these 20 assembly seats. A clear indication of this move was given by Kejriwal himself at a public event he addressedon Sunday where he asked people to “vote wisely” and said that ‘God knew this would happen’.

Sisodia too tweeted an ‘open letter’ to the people of Delhi on Monday justifying the appointment of these 20 former legislators as parliamentary secretaries in the Kejriwal government and attaching a political conspiracy by the BJP and the outgoing chief election commissioner for the disqualification of the MLAs. Sisodia’s open letter also indicates that the party is prepapring for by-polls.

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