Delhi chief minister announces resignation to protest blocking of anti-graft bill

Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses media on January 21, 2014. Mr Kejriwal announced his resignation on February 14, 2014 to protest delays to the anti-corruption bill, after less than 50 days in office. -- PHOTO: AFP
Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses media on January 21, 2014. Mr Kejriwal announced his resignation on February 14, 2014 to protest delays to the anti-corruption bill, after less than 50 days in office. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI - Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal resigned on Friday night after only 48 days in office to protest the blocking of an anti-corruption bill at the state assembly, pushing Delhi towards yet another election.

His resignation came after a day of high drama in the assembly where 42 legislators of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress Party blocked the anti-corruption bill on the grounds that it should be approved by the federal government first.

Opposition legislators also tried to shout down Mr Kejriwal as he tried to speak in the assembly.

"This seems like our last session," Mr Kejriwal said in the Delhi assembly after it was clear that the bill had been blocked.

Later at the headquarters of his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday night, Mr Kejriwal announced his resignation.

"I have tried to work honestly. I am a human being,,, I may have made mistakes,'' he told his supporters.

He also recommended fresh polls for Delhi.

"Delhi Assembly should be dissolved and re-elections should take place.''

His supporters cheered even as Mr Kejriwal announced his resignation after being in office for only 48 days following a stunning debut in Indian politics.

The former income tax officer turned social activist had used an anti-corruption uprising that fed on people's anger against corruption to launch his political party in November 2012.

He bucked all predictions, winning 28 of the 70 seats in elections in December and forming the government with support from the Congress party.

But the AAP ran into rough weather within a month of being in power.

It faced criticism after Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti led a mob that illegally detained African women on suspicion of being in a prostitution and drugs racket.

That was followed by Mr Kejriwal holding street protests against the police that did not go down well with residents of Delhi and even some of his own supporters.

Mr Kejriwal, who had made fighting corruption the cornerstone of his government and even introduced an anti-corruption helpline, had earlier in the week said in a television interview that he would resign if the anti-graft bill did not make it through the Delhi assembly.

gnirmala@sph.com.sg

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