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AAP rebel’s fast fizzles out in hours

New Delhi, Jan. 27: In a season of dharnas, expelled AAP legislator Vinod Kumar Binny’s protest against the Arvind Kejriwal government was the shortest — a hunger strike ending after four hours with the threat to launch a major agitation if his demands are not met in 10 days.

The MLA began his fast at Jantar Mantar a little before noon and called it off nearly four hours later.

In the morning, the BJP MLAs had come to the Delhi secretariat for a dharna to demand the removal of Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti. Before lunch, they had packed their bags and left.

Binny claimed that Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and Anna Hazare had suggested that he should give “some days” to the AAP government to fulfil its promises. Binny said he was giving 10 days more to the government to deliver.

“If the Kejriwal government fails to bring Anna’s Janlokpal Bill in the given time, I will begin protests across the country,” Binny said.

Binny’s demands also include the immediate setting up of the Mahila Surksha Dal and 700 litres of free water to residents along with reduction in electricity bills by up to half as promised by Kejriwal during the election.

“If the AAP government fails to meet these three demands in the next 10 days, I will begin a country-wide agitation from February 6,” he said.

The MLA was expelled last night after he called chief minister Kejriwal a dictator and accused the AAP of betraying Delhi voters by not fulfilling its election promises.

The political affairs committee of the AAP sent the expulsion notice to Binny claiming that his primary membership was being terminated for making false statements against the party and its leadership.

Asked to react to Binny’s dharna, Kejriwal said with a smile: “Acha dekh lenge, hum kaun sa sarkar bachane ki rajniti karte hain, (We will see, we are not in politics of saving government).”

With Binny’s expulsion, the AAP’s strength in Delhi Assembly has further reduced and is now one short of the majority mark in the 70-seat Assembly.

The AAP government completes a month in power tomorrow. The first two weeks of governance saw Kejriwal and his cabinet making announcements almost on a daily basis.

The list included the slashing of electricity tariff for consumers who use below 400 units per month and little less than 700 litres of free water daily. It also saw the launch of the anti-corruption helpline.

Reduction in power bills and free water has not been implemented yet. Since the government is in a minority they will have to get the subsidy bill passed in the Assembly.