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Delhi minister quits over anti-corruption law

Kejriwal resigns from the capital's top elected post after the parliament blocked an anti-corruption bill he endorsed.

Last updated: 14 Feb 2014 18:18
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Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal resigned from his post 49 days after winning the elections [Reuters]

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has resigned over delays in the introduction of an anti-corruption bill he was pushing for, less than 50 days after taking power in the Indian capital.

Kejriwal, a former tax collector who heads The Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party, made a stunning victory in India's capital in state elections in December on an anti-corruption platform.

He resigned on Friday following a stand-off in the Delhi assembly. He had wanted the anti-corruption bill immediately tabled and passed in the assembly but the Congress Party and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party said it must be approved by the central government first, which Kejriwal disputed.

"My cabinet has decided that we are quitting," Kejriwal told supporters of his party at a rally in the captial. "Here is my resignation letter," Reuters quoted him as saying, while brandishing a white sheet of paper.

"Straight after this, I am going to the Lieutenant Governor's office to hand in my resignation," he added, as his followers cheered.

Kejriwal, who had been the head of a minority administration since taking power on December 28, said he would ask Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung to immediately dissolve the Delhi assembly and organise fresh elections.

Kejriwal's announcement came shortly after local legislators effectively shot down his efforts to bring in anti-corruption legislation -- the key plank of his manifesto in December's state elections.

Kejriwal's party won 28 seats in Delhi's 70-member assembly and came to power with the help of the Congress party, which governs at national level.

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But Congress decided not to back Kejriwal in Friday's vote, claiming the measure was unconstitutional.

He told his supporters that the Congress party was scared that its officials who had ruled the Indian capital for the past 10 years would be prosecuted on corruption charges if the law came into force.

While his elevation to one of the most important political posts in India was initially widely welcomed as a much-needed shock to the system, the former tax inspector has since come in for criticism over a series of stand-offs with the authorities.

The self-styled "anarchist" staged a sit-in on the pavement close to the national parliament last month, triggering chaos in the city centre, as part of a push to be given greater powers of control over the police.

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