A group of retired bureaucrats has written to the Election Commission of India, asking it to initiate proceedings to withdraw the recognition of the Aam Aadmi Party and cancel its symbol, citing a violation of section 1A of the election symbols (reservation and allotment) order by the outfit’s national convener Arvind Kejriwal.
In the letter, the 56 signatories say, “We are writing to you in order to bring to your notice certain egregious violations as stipulated under Order 16A of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), through its National Convener Arvind Kejriwal. We totally disapprove of unbalanced and controversial comments made by Mr. Kejriwal during a press conference held in Rajkot, Gujarat on September 3rd 2022. A perusal of the live stream of the press conference reveals that whilst addressing the press, Mr. Kejriwal repeatedly induced public servants of the State of Gujarat to work in tandem with the AAP to ensure its victory in the State elections that are to be conducted in the subsequent months.”
The signatories also state in the letter that Delhi CM Kejriwal called upon public servants, including policemen, home guards, Anganwadi workers, state transport drivers and conductors, and polling booth officers to aid AAP in the upcoming state elections.
“We totally disapprove of the blatant efforts of AAP to politicize civil servants. We firmly believe that such instigative comments, coming from the convener of the AAP and a sitting Chief Minister, indisputably diminish public confidence in the institutions and guardians of the State. Kejriwal has directly addressed poll booth workers insinuating that they have worked in favour of a political party and then induced them to join hands with AAP,” the letter further stated.
The former bureaucrats cited instances where the code of conduct has been violated. “He has fervently appealed to state transport drivers and conductors to persuade each passenger travelling by state transport to vote for the AAP by clicking on the “jhadu” button…Additionally, Kejriwal has attempted to induce police officers and advised them against following regulations and procedures that have been mandated by the State Government,” the signatories stated in the letter.
The signatories also stated that Kejriwal had attempted to persuade public servants to act in contravention of the principles and ethics by which they are governed. “It is relevant to note the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which under Section 6A mandates the disqualification of every person found guilty of a corrupt practice and under Section 123 lays down definition of corrupt practices clearly states that obtaining or procuring or abetting or attempting to obtain or procure by a candidate or his agent or, by any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent, any assistance (other than the giving of vote) for the furtherance of the prospects of that candidate’s election, from any person in the service of the Government is a corrupt practice. Therefore, the scheme of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, under Section 6A and Section 123, categorically bars the commission of corrupt practices such as the usage of government machinery and the use of undue influence that interfere with the free exercise of electoral rights. Additionally, the ECI and the various Courts of our country, have time and again reiterated the utmost importance of purity in the conduct of our elections. It has been established that the election process must remain untainted and free from prejudice. In view of the above, Kejriwal’s appeals subvert electoral democracy,” reads the letter.
“In view of the above, we request the ECI to withdraw the recognition of the AAP as a recognised political party in light of its flagrant violations as under Order 16A of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 as the conduct of the National Convenor of AAP has breached the Model Code of Conduct and is also in grave violation of provisions of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951,” wrote M Madan Gopal, IAS, former additional chief secretary, Karnataka, as coordinator for the group.