New Delhi: Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday said he has in the past tried negotiating with terrorists and can now “accept the challenge” of brokering peace between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.
The comments of the Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs came after members from various opposition parties complained about the “elected government of Delhi being deprived of all powers by the Centre” and the constant friction between the Lt Governor and Delhi Chief Minister, as the former wields all the administrative powers.
“In the four decades of my public life, I faced many challenges. I have tried to negotiate with terrorists, etc. This (dealing with Kejriwal) is going to be a difficult one but I will accept your challenge and try and negotiate,” Puri told the Rajya Sabha.
“Maybe, I invite both of them for a lunch or something and will try and sort this out,” he added after Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien asked Puri to “sort out the friction between Lt Governor and Delhi Chief Minister”.
Kejriwal and Puri exchanged some heated official communication on the issue of hike in fares of the Delhi Metro in October this year. While Kejriwal demanded a rollback of the hike, Puri categorically declined it citing the mechanism of the Fare Fixation Committee.
Earlier, as the House discussed the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions Third Amendment) Bill, 2017, many members raised the issue of division of powers between the Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor and said that the latter wielded all the powers and not the elected government.
While members from the Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI-M and the CPI forcefully stressed the need to give more powers to the Delhi government, Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal went on to say that the Lt Governor treats Delhi Chief Minister like a “chaprasi” (peon).
Veteran Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav also raised the issue of the Delhi Chief Minister not being invited at the inauguration of the Delhi Metro’s Magenta line a few days back.
“Every person with a common sense was heard saying that this (not extending invitation) was not proper,” Yadav said as he cited an example of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee once declining to go to the inauguration of a project in a state until its Chief Minister was invited.
The House later unanimously passed the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions Third Amendment) Bill, 2017 that extends the validity of the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second Act, 2011 till December 31, 2020.
In simple terms, the extension of the law would defer any action against the unauthorised colonies and slum clusters in the city for another three years — till 2020.