Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal further escalated his confrontation with the Centre over the Jan Lokpal bill on Sunday by saying he would resign if it was not passed.
With Congress clearly saying it cannot support an "unconstitutional" bill, the AAP government is now on the brink of collapsing, reports Times of India from New Delhi today.
"For me the Jan Lokpal and Swaraj bill are very important. If they fail to pass, there is no reason for me to remain in power. I will resign," Kejriwal said in an interview at the Delhi Literature Festival 2014.
He said people would teach the Congress and BJP a lesson if the anti-corruption bills were not passed. "We will win more than 50 assembly seats in a re-election," he claimed.
The Jan Lokpal bill and Swaraj bill are inspired by the activist-turned politician's book 'Swaraj' which questions the existing democratic framework in the country and suggests ways to achieve true 'self-rule'.
While the Jan Lokpal bill provides for covering all public servants - from chief minister to Group D employees - and seeks life term as maximum punishment for those found guilty of corruption, the Swaraj bill seeks to decentralise power.
Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief Arvinder Singh, who is one of the eight Congress MLAs giving outside support to AAP, told TOI, "We have always maintained that we will support Jan Lokpal bill if it is as per the law but in this case rules have been flouted to table the bill in the assembly and that cannot be allowed."
Singh added, "Chief Minister Arvind Kejirwal is not above the Constitution. If he says that he is an 'aam aadmi' then he should behave like one and not try to be bigger than the Constitution."
Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel said, "How can we state our views on a bill we are yet to see? Only when MLAs get to see the bill will we be able to firm up our stand.
The government is not even giving time to MLAs to go through the bill and wants it to be passed in a huff."
In his interview, Kejriwal said the Jan Lokpal and Swaraj bill would be tabled in the Delhi assembly on Thursday.
"Swaraj Bill shall be passed on Saturday and we are trying to convene a special session at Indira Gandhi stadium on Sunday to pass the Jan Lokpal bill," he added.
In a House of 70, AAP's strength has been reduced to 27, including the Speaker, after it expelled MLA Vinod Kumar Binny. The Congress has eight legislators while the BJP has 32.
Kejriwal said BJP has passed a similar (Jan Lokpal) bill in Uttarakhand. "If they do not support us, they will stand exposed too," he added.
Asked about the alleged unconstitutionality of the two bills, Kejriwal said it was the home ministry's order to seek its permission before passing the bills that was unconstitutional.
He said a resolution had already been passed by the Delhi assembly against the MHA order on February 3. "When I became the CM, I swore by the Constitution, not by the home ministry order," he said. The AAP leader said legal luminaries like Soli Sorabjee have supported his view too.
Kejriwal said the Lokpal Bill passed by the Centre was ineffective. "Even a mouse cannot be caught and punished by that law," he said.
He refuted claims that his move (to resign) was premeditated and aimed at the upcoming Lok sabha polls.
"Has Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who is the prime ministerial candidate of BJP, resigned?" he asked.
Kejriwal did not comment on whether he would be the prime ministerial candidate of AAP in Lok Sabha elections or if he would contest them at all.
He denied supporting any political party too. "We will field candidates against all corrupt politicians, criminal ones, dynasts and communalists," Kejriwal said.
While party sources have been hinting at a possible resignation of the CM if the bill did not get support in assembly, a final decision in the matter was taken on Sunday.
The party's parliamentary affairs committee (PAC) met on Sunday and decided to back Kejriwal in whatever decision he took.
PAC members say that they will go to any length to get the bill passed, if not now then in their next term, presuming AAP comes back to power in Delhi again but with a majority.
Sources said that if the bill, the government's most important agenda, did not win support in the assembly, it would be "morally incorrect" for it to continue in power. "AAP will go to any length to get the bill passed.
At one end is the Gujarat government which stalled the Lokayukta for nine years and here is the Delhi CM who is willing to let the government fall to ensure that the Lokpal Bill is passed," said Sanjay Singh, member of the PAC.