Delhi set to witness fresh power struggle between Kejriwal govt-LG

New Delhi, March 16 : With the Union Home Ministry introducing the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021 in Parliament on Monday, Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has opposed the decision terming it an unconstitutional and undemocratic move by the Centre. The party leaders along with all the ministers in the Delhi government will protest at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday.

Soon after the Centre moved the Bill, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet ministers began opposing it calling the move an attempt by the BJP-led Central government to rule Delhi from the backdoor. The AAP also slammed the BJP saying the Centre’s action was a reaction after it lost in the MCD bypolls in Delhi and also seeing the growing popularity of the AAP from Delhi to Gujarat.

“The Centre has conspired to limit an elected government’s powers, and is attempting to overturn the judgement of a Constitution bench, all of it to restrict the powers of the Delhi government to stifle its growth,” Delhi Minister and AAP leader Gopal Rai said.

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Rai said that with introducing the NCTD (Amendment) Act, 2021 in Parliament the BJP has shown its clear intention to grab power in Delhi. “One would do well to remember how even earlier, MHA made several attempts to restrict the powers of the Delhi government. All powers were submitted to the LG, every file would have to be routed via his office, which had led to several files being stalled, being delayed. Files pertaining to constructing mohalla clinics were delayed for years. The LG house even sat on files for installing CCTV cameras across the city,” he added.

Recalling the past incidents, Rai said, “All of us had sat all night at the LG house just to get a file cleared for the installation of CCTV cameras.” He said that the same situation had arisen now, which had become a cause of worry for citizens of Delhi.

Rai also raised his concern that through the LG, the Centre would derail all its projects such as the Deshbhakti budget under which several schemes were introduced. “Now every decision will be implemented at the mercy of the LG,” he added. “Thus, the party has decided to protest against the Central government’s decision to introduce a Bill that renders an elected government powerless.”

Soon after the Centre presented the Bill, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia took a copy of the Constitution and read Article 239AA, which said, “There shall be a legislative assembly for the national capital. This Assembly shall have power to make laws for the whole and any part of the subject except public order, land and the police.” After this amendment, Delhi government will be dependent on LG office for every single file to get necessary approval from it before implementing. What is the meaning of having an elected government and the Council of Ministers when it has no power? he added.

However, this is not the first time when the AAP-led Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor came face to face in a constitutional power struggle. The conflict between the Kejriwal government and the Delhi LG had emerged for the first time in 2014 when Kejriwal had resigned from the Chief Minister’s post after the former Delhi LG Najeeb Jung sent the Delhi government’s ‘Jan Lokpal Bill’ to the Centre.

Again in 2015, the LG decided to appoint S Gamlin as acting Chief Secretary of Delhi. Kejriwal had then called it unconstitutional and had directed officials not to follow any order from the LG office without consulting him.

In 2016, the Anti-Corruption Bureau filed an FIR against Kejriwal. Meanwhile, following the matter, Jung had axed the health and PWD secretaries of the Delhi government.

Again, Jung set up a panel to probe over 400 files related to the decisions taken by the Kejriwal government.

In 2017 the VK Singhlu committee claimed nepotism to financial irregularities in the AAP government. Then LG Baijal had cancelled office allotment to the AAP and Kejriwal had called it a politically motivated decision by the LG.

In the same year, 45 AAP MLAs had sat in protest for many hours accusing the LG of holding up the Delhi government’s Mohalla Clinic project. The AAP had charged Baijal with acting on behalf of the BJP.

The LG and the AAP government had confronted each other again on the matter of regularising guest teachers.

In 2018, Kejriwal along with three cabinet ministers sat in protest at LG house for over a week, while the BJP MLAs sat in protest in the Delhi Secretariat due to this constitutional conflict between the elected government and the Centre appointed LG.

–IANS
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