In a major setback to Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), President Ram Nath Kovind approved the disqualification of 20 of its MLAs in Delhi on charges of holding Office of Profit, an official spokesman of the Rashtrapathi Bhavan said on Sunday.
This after the Election Commission on Friday recommended disqualification of 20 of its MLAs on grounds of holding office of profit as Parliamentary Secretaries.
The Election Commission gave its opinion to the President on a complaint by the Congress filed in June 2016 seeking disqualification of the MLAs.
The Congress application said 21 AAP MLAs, including Jarnail Singh (Rajouri Garden) who resigned to contest Punjab Assembly polls last year, had been appointed Parliamentary Secretaries to Ministers in the Delhi government.
Under the Constitution, the President is bound to act in accordance with the poll panel's recommendation.
There was no official word from the poll panel. But sources said the Commission's recommendation had been sent to President Ram Nath Kovind.
The move will pave the way for by polls in Delhi for 20 constituencies of the 70-member assembly. The AAP at present has officially 66 members in the House although some have since turned dissidents. The other four seats are held by the BJP.
The MLAs who face axe are Alka Lamba, Adarsh Shastri, Sanjeev Jha, Rajesh Gupta, Kailash Gehlot, Vijendra Garg, Praveen Kumar, Sharad Kumar, Madan Lal Khufiya, Shiv Charan Goyal, Sarita Singh, Naresh Yadav, Rajesh Rishi, Anil Kumar, Som Dutt, Avtar Singh, Sukhvir Singh Dala, Manoj Kumar, Nitin Tyagi and Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar).
The AAP on Friday had said the recommendation was based on false allegations, alleging that the "BJP through its agents seriously compromises the prestige of the EC just to divert the attention of the nation from its all round failures.
"This must be the first ever recommendation in EC history where a recommendation has been sent without even hearing the main matter on merits. No hearing took place in the EC on the point of office of profit," AAP spokesperson Nagendra Sharma had tweeted.