Bill to give more power to Delhi L-G is anti-federal: NC MP

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Srinagar, Mar 23 (PTI) National Conference MP Hasnain Masoodi on Tuesday said that the bill which seeks to make it clear that the 'government' in Delhi means the 'Lieutenant Governor' was 'anti-federal'.

The party also said that the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021, significantly expands the powers of the Lieutenant Governor at the cost of the elected legislature.

The bill, which was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday, also makes it mandatory for the Delhi government to take the opinion of the lieutenant governor (L-G) before any executive action. It will be taken up for discussion in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

While speaking in Lok Sabha, National Conference (NC) member Masoodi opposed the bill, terming it 'anti-federal' He said the bill is in 'contravention' with the country's federal structure.

'The measure is being taken to hide the electoral failures of the BJP. The bill significantly cuts the powers of the elected legislature to the extent that the Centre's nominated L-G can withhold the consent of any bill which he deems outside the purview of the assembly as per the new scheme of things,' the MP said.

'Here the question arises who will decide what is outside the purview of the assembly. The bill is not being taken in good faith as the elected legislature has been rendered powerless by the ruling BJP,' Masoodi said.

He alleged that the BJP is bringing the electoral battle to Parliament by centralising all powers in the L-G.

'What is the fun of having a toothless assembly in the union territory (Delhi) if it is not able to exercise its basic power of lawmaking. The NC is against the bill on account of the bill being inconsistent with the Constitution,' Masoodi said.

'The Supreme Court in its various historical judgments held the federal structure of the country as the basic theme of the Constitution of India. The NC is opposing the bill on account of its constitutional ineptness and incongruity,' he said.

Masoodi said Jammu and Kashmir was also confronted with the similar situation on August 5, 2019, when the 'constitutional propriety was sidelined' and the state was bifurcated and downgraded into a Union Territory.

The Centre on August 5, 2019, had abrogated the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Meanwhile, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti referring to the bill tweeted, 'This isn't just disempowering a political rival or the federal structure but disempowerment of popular vote. Worse happened in J&K where people were not only stripped of their powers but also their identity. The collective humiliation continues.' PTI SSB ANB ANB