Pranab Mukherjee
Pranab MukherjeeIANS

President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday reportedly withheld a bill which, if passed, would have allowed Delhi legislators to hold an office of profit. The withholding of the bill may lead to the disqualification of as many as 21 MLAs belonging to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

ANI on Monday tweeted that the president had withheld the Delhi government's dual office bill, which would have allowed the 21 AAP MLAs to continue holding the post of parliamentary secretaries if it had been passed.

The new bill was an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, through which the Delhi government had eyed "retrospective" exemption from disqualification of its parliamentary secretaries, according to an Indian Express report. It had been forwarded by Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung to the Centre, who had in turn sent it to the President.

The Indian Express report also said the AAP went into a huddle following this development, organising an emergency meeting.

Meanwhile, several AAP MLAs tried to shrug off the President's move. ANI quoted the party's MLA Raghav Chadha as saying: "There will be no effect of this bill being withheld on assembly membership of our 21 MLAs." He was quoted by ANI in another tweet as saying: "BJP's propaganda department is just spreading lies. Modi ji should himself also work and let us also work [sic]."

Even party convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter to protest against the decision, but chose to direct his ire at Prime Minister Narendra Modi instead. In one of his tweets, he said Modi does not respect democracy, and is afraid only of the AAP.