A meeting to elect a new mayor for Delhi degenerated into a full-blown brawl between newly elected councilors of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the BJP, who attacked each other and shouted slogans for hours. The meeting ended abruptly after the fight and Delhi remained without a mayor.
In TV visuals, rival workers of AAP and BJP were seen pushing each other down, hurling tables and chairs and even jumping on desks at the Civic Centre, the headquarters of the powerful body responsible for providing civic amenities to more than 11 million people, according to media reports.
The protests erupted over nominated MCD members – aldermen of the house – being sworn in before the elected councilors. AAP suspected an attempt to get the nominated members to vote – in violation of rules – and help the BJP, which lost the December civic election after three terms in power.
Members of both parties claimed injuries in the physical clash. The BJP alleged that its councilor Sharad Kapoor suffered a broken leg. AAP responded with a similar charge. “They (BJP councilors) hit me with an oath-taking memento,” alleged AAP’s Praveen Kumar.
AAP had earlier objected to Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena naming 10 nominated MCD members without consulting the state government. The BJP retorted that the MCD reports to the Centre and the Lieutenant Governor, so Mr Saxena was well within his rights to nominate members to the civic body.
The clash in the house follows a series of confrontations between AAP and the Lieutenant Governor, who is the Centre’s representative in Delhi.
AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused Saxena of bypassing and ignoring the elected government.