Delhi chief minister resigns after ombudsman law blocked

Activist chief minister of Delhi accuses Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party of colluding to stall legislation to create state ombudsman.

Arvind Kejriwal waves his resignation letter as he addresses supporters at the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party offices in New Delhi on February 14. AFP
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NEW DELHI // The anti-graft crusader Arvind Kejriwal resigned as Delhi’s chief minister yesterday after his anti-corruption bill was blocked in the state assembly.

Mr Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party had stunned India’s political establishment in December elections, winning the second most seats in the assembly.

The party, which has 28 seats in the 70-member assembly, formed a minority government with the support of the Congress party, which has eight.

But after a mere 49 days as chief minister, Mr Kejriwal quit when his Jan Lokpal bill, which derives its name from the title of the anti-corruption ombudsman it aims to create, was blocked in the assembly.

“Our biggest promise was that we will pass the Jan Lokpal Bill,” Mr Kejriwal told cheering Aam Aadmi workers at the party headquarters.

“But today when attempts were made to introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill in the assembly, both the Congress and BJP derailed it.

“My cabinet has decided that we are quitting. Here is my resignation letter.”

Both Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, which has 31 seats, prevented the bill from being tabled, but denied that they were opposed to the legislation.

Arvinder Singh Lovely, a Congress spokesman, said Mr Kejriwal’s government needed the permission of the federal government to implement the bill.

“We were ready to go along to the [federal government] along with them. We only wanted the Jan Lokpal Bill to be introduced legally.”

Delhi will be governed by the president until new elections can be held. These elections are likely to held along with the general elections early this summer.