Hot cups of chai, snacks, patriotic songs and doses of camaraderie – this is how AAP members kept their protest peaceful inside the Mayor-less Municipal House on Tuesday.
AAP members, including its 13 MLAs and three MLAs, who have refused to vacate the House and accused the BJP of “running away from the mayoral poll”, seemed happy as they were staging a sit-in protest in the Aruna Asaf Ali Hall.
Many councilors took turns singing songs, mostly patriotic numbers like ‘Rang de Basanti’, ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon’ and ‘Dil Diya Hai’, and one member even recited ‘Vande Mataram’.
Proceedings began at around 11:20 am and the nominated members were first administered the oath by President Satya Sharma, followed by the elected councillors.
AAP members had opposed councilors being sworn in first and chanted “shame, shame” when it was done.
Sharma had briefly adjourned the proceedings after the oath-taking ceremony. Later, at around 3 pm, he adjourned the House till another date after a brief ruckus between the AAP and BJP members.
While the BJP members came out with many slogans against Arvind Kejriwal, the AAP members sat on their seats, refusing to leave the House in protest.
The mayoral election could not be held as the new House met on Tuesday for the second time in more than two weeks. AAP MP Sanjay Singh hit out at the BJP, alleging that the mandate given by the two million people of Delhi to Arvind Kejriwal and his party has been “strangled”.
Addressing his party members at the MCD House premises after it was adjourned to the next date, the Rajya Sabha MP alleged that the BJP was running away from the mayoral elections already that he is “losing it badly”.
“It is not allowed” that elections be held in the mayor’s office. The BJP is starting a “very dangerous tradition (“bhayanak parampara”)”, alleged Singh.
In the evening, AAP members were served cups of chai and many shared slices of sandwiches and fruit.
Many younger AAP councilors were seen blessing their senior counterparts, while a few others huddled together for selfies as they continued their protest in the House.
Around 7 pm, the lights were still on in the MCD house as AAP members occupied it, leaving many civic officials in a fix.
“We don’t know when this protest will end. Tea, snacks and songs are keeping them going,” an official source told PTI, requesting anonymity. “We’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.
Earlier in the day, there was tight security for the proceedings of the House with heavy deployment of security personnel at the Civic Center premises and also in the House.
After the oath-taking, when the House briefly adjourned, several BJP councilors started chanting “Modi, Modi” and took aim at AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal and raised slogans against him.
An AAP councilor, after taking oath, thanked Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal from the podium, prompting shouts of support from AAP members in the House, after BJP members objected to Kejriwal’s name being brought to the dais and countered the shouts of AAP members with ‘Modi Modi’ chants.
AAP later paraded its 151 members in the MCD House premises — 135 councillors, 13 MLAs and three MLAs — to show that it had the numbers in its favor to have the party mayor.
Party MLAs Atishi and Durgesh Pathak also interacted with their party members in the House and urged them to continue as the evening slipped into the night.