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Office of profit case: Congress says AAP MLAs should resign on 'moral ground', to move EC again

The Congress on Friday said it would fight the office of profit case involving 20 AAP MLAs in the Election Commission of India (ECI) again after the Delhi High Court set aside their disqualification and asked the poll panel to hear the matter afresh.

The party also said that the AAP MLAs should resign on "moral ground" and seek re-election, as had been done by former Congress president Sonia Gandhi who resigned from the Lok Sabha following a similar controversy.

"We will fight it out in the EC again as these 20 MLAs have enjoyed perks. HC has not disputed or denied this. The HC has just asked ECI to look at it again in the light of natural justice!" Congress' Delhi unit president Ajay Maken tweeted.

He said that the AAP government itself had admitted before the Election Commission that a huge amount was spent on office, furniture, transportation and perks for these MLAs who worked as parliamentary secretaries.

The high court termed the Election Commission's recommendation on disqualification as "vitiated", and noted that there was violation of natural justice and no oral hearing was given to the MLAs before disqualifying them as legislators of the Delhi Assembly.

"We respect the judgment of the high court, but we would like to raise some important questions," Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev told reporters.

"Both the BJP and the AAP are now in the same boat. The rules of natural justice have been upheld, but just like the AAP has made an absolute mockery of the laws, the BJP is flouting every rule in Manipur," she said.

Dev also said the BJP and the AAP were guilty of not upholding constitutional laws.

"We demand that the 12 MLAs BJP in Manipur resign immediately, as well as the 20 MLAs AAP in Delhi," she said.

She alleged that 12 MLAs, including eight from BJP, three from NPF and an independent MLA were appointed as parliamentary secretaries after the last Assembly election. After a Supreme Court order in July 2017, any person having held such position must be disqualified.

"However, all the 12 MLAs are continuing in complete violation of the law," she alleged.

Dev alleged that the BJP was the "master of defections and not elections", as it had consistently and repeatedly flouted the constitutional provisions while forming governments in Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya.

"The BJP had committed daylight robbery of majority mandate in Goa, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Political muscle, coercion and money moved swiftly by the BJP to further its agenda of usurping power," she said.