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Kejriwal lobs quit threat

New Delhi, Feb. 9: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tonight threatened to resign if the Jan Lokpal Bill his government was planning to bring was not passed by the Assembly.

“I am not here to become the chief minister. I have come to finish corruption and in that pursuit, a hundred chairs of chief minister can be sacrificed,” he told reporters after meeting Anna Hazare this evening. He had earlier said he could go to any extent to get the bill passed.

The declaration of intent to quit didn’t come as a surprise to the Congress, which has long held that Kejriwal is desperately looking for an exit route as he knows it would be impossible to fulfil the promises he has made to the people.

The Congress will wait and watch. It has already said supporting a bill that is not in tune with the Lokpal Bill passed by Parliament is out of question.

Since Delhi does not enjoy full statehood, the Assembly requires the Centre’s consent to pass bills.

The rules for tabling a bill by the Delhi government were finalised in 2002, when the NDA was in power, the Congress’s Delhi unit chief Arvinder Singh Lovely said today. Any bill having financial implications has to be cleared by the Centre before it is introduced in the Assembly, he said.

“The Jan Lokpal Bill of Delhi has provisions which will overlap with the central Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, so it is mandatory for the state government to get clearance from the Centre,” PTI quoted Lovely as saying.

The Congress has always said it will support the bill, he said, adding: “Our only request to the AAP government is to follow the rules and respect the Constitution.”

Kejriwal’s AAP does not have a majority in the Assembly and the BJP too is not inclined to extend a helping hand.

Responding to Kejriwal’s threat to quit, a senior Congress leader told The Telegraph: “He never wanted to run this government. He should not have taken oath if he intended to violate the Constitution and law. He was using this opportunity to form the government as a propaganda tool for his future politics. He also knows the tag of former chief minister would be valuable.”

It is unlikely that the Congress would play ball with Kejriwal though it does not want to pull down the government just now.

Kejriwal has written to Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, asking for the rules on tabling bills to be changed. “We have written to home minister to withdraw the 2002 order which directs the Delhi government to take approval of the ministry before passage of any bill in the Assembly,” he said.

The Lokpal law passed recently by Parliament was so ineffectual, he claimed, that “even a mouse will not be imprisoned” with it.

The chief minister told PTI: “The Centre’s order was unconstitutional. It was only an order and it is completely against the Constitution. How can an order by the home ministry curtail the law-making powers of Delhi Assembly….”