New Delhi, Jan 2: The first session of the fifth Delhi Assembly began on Wednesday with the newly elected MLAs taking the oath of office and secrecy. The Arvind Kejriwal-led government will seek a vote of confidence on Thursday.
Even as Mr. Kejriwal raised concerns on Tuesday over the fate of his government, saying “he has only 48 hours to deliver on the promises, Congress leaders reiterated on Wednesday that the AAP’s apprehensions were “misplaced.”
“We have extended outside support to the AAP. The letter of support was given to the Lieutenant Governor. We stand by our decision, and there is no threat to the government from our party. But if Mr. Kejriwal is himself running away from the responsibility, I cannot comment on that,” said Pradesh Congress Committee president Arvinder Singh.
The AAP, which has 28 MLAs, needs the support of at least eight other members to achieve a simple majority of 36 in a 70-member Assembly. The Congress has eight MLAs. The JD(U) has also offered the support of its lone MLA to the government. On the other hand, the opposition BJP and its ally Shiromani Akali Dal have a total of 32 MLAs. There is only one Independent.
Departing from precedence, the AAP government has decided to prove its majority even before electing the Speaker. “The decision might be guided by the fact that the party does not want to take any chance during the trust vote. If the AAP manages to get its candidate elected Speaker, he will not be able to vote during the trust vote unless it’s a tie,” said an official of the Vidhan Sabha.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was the first to take the oath on Wednesday, followed by Manish Sisodia and other ministers. Only Dinesh Mohaniya of the AAP and Jai Kishan of the Congress were absent.
Having been elected for the first time, some AAP MLAs appeared unfamiliar with the conventions. This resulted in some funny moments and even kicked up a controversy. At one point of time, the AAP MLAs were reminded by a BJP legislator that the members need to thump the desks in appreciation as their senior leaders took turns to take the oath.
Mr. Kejriwal’s decision to leave the proceedings, along with Mr. Sisodia shortly after taking the oath, sparked a row. “The Chief Minister is the leader of the House. I don’t think there can be anything important than the oath-taking ceremony on the first day of the session. Even if the Chief Minister and his senior most Cabinet colleague had to leave for something really urgent, he should have at least followed the convention and taken permission from the Speaker through the Assembly secretary,” said BJP MLA and former Chief Whip of the party Shahib Singh Chauhan.
However, Mr. Arvinder Singh said: “The AAP MLAs must be given some time to get accustomed to the conventions and proceedings of the House.”
While most of the MLAs took the oath in Hindi, some others did so in different languages. Anil Jha of the BJP, attired in a traditional dhoti-kurta and maithili cap, took the oath in Maithili, a regional language spoken in Bihar. The JD(U)’s Shoaib Iqbal and Congress members Haroon Yusuf, Hasan Ahmed and Mohammed Asif took the oath in Urdu. While Rajendra Nagar MLA R.P. Singh took the oath in Punjabi, Mr. Arvinder Singh was the sole MLA to use English.
The Assembly session will end on January 7.