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Dissident AAP MLAs plough lonely furrow in Delhi Assembly

New Delhi: They don’t thump their desks when their colleagues do so after a thunderous speech an AAP legislator nor do they join the chorus against the minuscule opposition BJP in the Delhi assembly.

Despite being among the staggering 67 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the 70-member assembly, they don’t seem to belong to the party.

Once the foot soldiers of the AAP, four legislators – Asim Ahmed Khan, Jitender Singh Tomar, Colonel Devinder Sehrawat (retd) and Pankaj Pushkar – now sit disaffected and disillusioned in the ongoing assembly’s winter session.

These legislators, who have fallen out of favour with AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for reasons ranging from graft to dissidence, have been the least participative during the session of the House.

The legislators, who sit together in the last row, have been sorely indifferent to what their party colleagues do in the assembly – whether it is the tabling of “historic” bills or protesting against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member O P Sharma for his sexist remark against AAP leader Alka Lamba.

On November 26, when a bulk of AAP lawmakers upped the ante against Sharma by massing near the speaker’s podium, they looked reluctant to join. To show solidarity, Khan, Tomar and Sehrawat merely stood up from their seats.

But when the sloganeering against Sharma grew louder and one of the visibly agitated AAP called them to join, they ambled towards the podium.

But, it was only Col. Sehrawat who pumped the air with his fist once and quickly slipped his hand into his trouser pocket.

Pushkar kept sitting and flipping through a document.

“It’s not that I am not with them (AAP). I am 50-years-old and I have a status. It won’t look nice if I protest in the well (speaker’s podium),” Tomar told IANS.

“Things look good only in limits. What’s the point in protesting when the matter has been referred to the ethics committee,” Tomar said, referring to Sharma’s remark against Lamba.

Sharma was suspended for the entire winter session and his case was referred to the assembly’s ethics panel but the AAP legislators kept protesting and demanded he be jailed.

Pushkar echoed this view.

“I am most obedient to the constitutional system. And I am the most active in the assembly,” Pushkar maintained.

“Why should I be the part of protest which is foolish? Once you have sent the matter to the ethics committee, how can you demand jail for him,” he asked.

Col. Sehrawat and Khan could not be contacted for their views despite several attempts.

Interestingly, Pushkar has been active only in opposing his party’s proposed bills in the assembly – so much so, that Speaker Ram Niwas Goel had to suspend him for two days.

The legislator, who openly supported Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav when they were expelled from the AAP, has taken on the party on various issues.

Like Pushkar, Col. Sehrawat too had rallied behind Yadav and Bhushan at the time of their expulsion in March, pitting himself against the party.

Tomar, whom the AAP shielded in the fake law degree case for a long time, was left to fend for himself after his arrest. He was asked to resign as the law minister.

A miffed Kejriwal had said that Tomar kept him in the dark.

Kejriwal summarily sacked Khan as the food minister during a press conference for demanding a bribe. Khan had said that he was the a “victim of internal politics”.

(IANS)

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