Clashes broke out between the Aam Aadmi Party and Bharatiya Janata Party councillors inside the House of Delhi’s civic body during the counting of votes for the elections of six Standing Committee members, reported NDTV.
The poll to elect members of the Standing Committee holds importance as it plays a powerful role in the city’s civic body as its executive. The committee has the power to grant financial approval to projects, appoint sub-committees and hold discussions and finalise policies.
The polling was held on Friday with 242 of the 250 councillors casting their votes, said newly-elected Mayor Shelly Oberoi. Eight councillors – Mandeep Singh, Ariba Khan, Nazia Danish, Sameer Ahmad, Shagufta Chaudhary Zubair, Sabila Begum, Naziya Khatoon and Zarif – did not cast their vote.
The chaos broke out after Oberoi declared one vote invalid, leading to BJP councillors interrupting the vote-counting process. The mayor, however, insisted the result will be declared without the invalid vote.
Videos showed the members of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi punching, kicking and shoving each other. One of the Aam Aadmi Party councillor also fell on the ground amid the chaos, according to ANI. BJP councillor Meenakshi Sharma claimed that someone from AAP hit her with a sharp object, reported ANI.
“They also touched my neck,” Sharma said. “It was done by a male Councillor. They haven’t allowed a single House sustain. Don’t know if she’s Delhi’s mayor or AAP’s. She acts on orders by Kejriwal and other masters.”
The BJP has claimed that the vote is valid. “If it is invalid, according to our calculation, the AAP’s candidate will win,” an unidentified BJP councillor told NDTV. Another BJP leader told the news channel the mayor has disregarded counting rules set by the Election Commission.
AAP MLA Atishi said that it was time the BJP accepted its defeat and stopped its hooliganism.
“Today BJP showed goondaism in the Civic centre,” Atishi said. “The Standing Committee election was going on. When counting started BJP realised they were losing and they created a ruckus. The mayor was attacked and physically assaulted by the BJP male member.”
Meanwhile, the BJP has alleged that Atishi encouraged AAP councillors to indulge in physical fight with Opposition party members.
The incident is an escalation of the events of Thursday during which councillors from the two parties threw water bottles and fruits at each other. The House was adjourned without electing any members of the Standing Committee.
Friday’s chaos at the Delhi civic body comes after Oberoi was elected as the Mayor of the council. Notably, the mayoral elections were also disrupted three times since the civic polls in December due to a prolonged tussle between the AAP and the BJP. Councillors from the AAP had opposed the presiding officer’s decision to allow aldermen to vote.
However, in a major relief to AAP on February 18, the Supreme Court had held that nominated members of the Delhi municipal corporation cannot vote in the elections for the mayor’s post.