AAP's protest at MCD House: Patriotic songs, snacks and camaraderie

The protest was called off around 8 pm when party MP Sanjay Singh and MLA Durgesh Pathak addressed the AAP leaders, and asserted that their mayor and deputy mayor will be eventually elected

Press Trust of India Press Trust of India New Delhi
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Hot cups of chai, snacks, patriotic songs and dollops of camaraderie -- this is how AAP members sustained their nearly five-hour-long peaceful protest inside the chamber of the municipal House which failed to elect a mayor on Tuesday.

Soon as the House was adjourned till a further date by presiding officer Satya Sharma around 3 pm, AAP members, including its 13 MLAs and three MPs, refused to budge from it, and accused the BJP of "running away from the mayoral poll".

The protest was finally called off around 8 pm when party MP Sanjay Singh and MLA Durgesh Pathak addressed the AAP leaders, and asserted that their mayor and deputy mayor will be eventually elected.

Earlier, the AAP members seemed to made merry while lodging a protest sitting in the Aruna Asaf Ali hall.

Many councillors took turns to sing songs, largely patriotic numbers like 'Rang de Basanti', 'Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon' and 'Dil Diya Hai', and one member even recited 'Vande Mataram'.

The House proceedings began around 11:20 am and nominated members were first administered the oath by presiding officer Satya Sharma, followed by elected councillors.

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AAP members had objected to aldermen being administered the oath first and chanted "shame, shame" when it was being done.

Sharma had briefly adjourned the proceedings after the oath-taking ceremony. Later around 3 pm, she adjourned the House till further date after a brief ruckus among members of the AAP and the BJP.

While BJP members walked out with many chanting slogans against Arvind Kejriwal, the AAP members sat in their seats, refusing to move out of the House in protest.

The mayoral election could not be conducted as the newly-elected House convened on Tuesday for the second time in over two weeks. AAP MP Sanjay Singh hit out at the BJP, alleging that the mandate given by the two crore people of Delhi to Arvind Kejriwal and his party has been "strangulated".

Addressing his party members in the premises of the MCD House after it was adjourned till next date, the Rajya Sabha MP alleged the BJP was running away from mayoral election as it is "losing it badly".

Mayoral election is "not being allowed" to take place. The BJP is starting a "very dangerous tradition ('bhayanak parampara')," Singh alleged.

In the evening, cups of chai were served to the AAP members and many shared slices of sandwiches and fruits.

Many younger councillors from the AAP were seen taking blessings of their elder counterparts, while a few others huddled for some selfies as they went on with their protest in the House.

Around 7 pm, the lights were still switched on in the MCD House as AAP members occupied it, leaving many civic officials in a fix.

"We don't know when will this protest end. Tea, snacks and songs keeping them going," an official source told PTI, requesting anonymity. "We have never seen something like this," he said later in the evening.

Earlier in the day, there was tight security arrangements for the House proceedings with heavy deployment of security personnel on the Civic Centre premises, and in the House as well.

After the oath-taking when the House was briefly adjourned, several BJP councillors started chanting 'Modi, Modi' and targeted AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal and raised slogans against him.

An AAP councillor, after taking oath, thanked Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal from the podium, prompting AAP members in the House to shout in support, following which BJP members objected to Kejriwal's name being taken on the dais and they countered AAP members' cries with 'Modi Modi' chants.

Later, the AAP paraded its 151 members on the premises of the MCD House -- 135 councillors, 13 MLAs and three MPs -- to prove that it had the numbers in its favour to have the mayor from the party.

Party MLAs Atishi and Durgesh Pathak also interacted with their party members in the House and exhorted them to go on as the evening slipped into night.

Around 8 pm, the AAP members dispersed from the House amid chants of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai', 'Arvind Kejriwal Zindabad', 'Aam Aadmi Party Zindabad' and 'Bhagoda Party Sadan Mey Aao'.

"We waited till 7:30 pm so that the mayoral election could be held, but it didn't happen," Singh told reporters after emerging from the House.

"We waited hoping that the LG would let the election happen today. But, democracy is being diminished and the LG is not doing anything," MLA Atishi alleged.

First Published: Jan 25 2023 | 12:16 AM IST