Centre-AAP tussle in Delhi set to revive as bill giving more powers to LG introduced in Parliament

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New Delhi, Mar 15 (PTI) The tussle between the AAP dispensation and Centre is set to revive with the home ministry on Monday introducing a bill in parliament that gives overarching power to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, prompting Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to accuse the BJP of “drastically curtailing” the powers of his elected government.

According to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the 'government' in the city would mean the 'Lieutenant Governor' in context of any law to be made by the legislative assembly.

The bill that was introduced by Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy in Lok Sabha makes it mandatory for the Delhi government to take the opinion of the lieutenant governor (LG) before any executive action in the national capital.

Condemning the 'BJP's unconstitutional and anti-democracy' move, Kejriwal said the bill is contrary to the Supreme Court's Constitution Bench judgement in 2018.

'After being rejected by ppl (people) of Del (Delhi), BJP seeks to drastically curtail powers of elected govt thro (through) a Bill in LS (Lok Sabha) today. Bill is contrary to Constitution Bench judgement. We strongly condemn BJP’s unconstitutional n anti-democracy move,' Kejriwal said in a tweet.

Kejriwal also sought to know what role will his elected government play if, according to the bill, 'government' means the 'LG'.

“The Bill says- 1. For Delhi, “Govt” will mean LG Then what will elected govt do? … 2. All files will go to LG This is against 4.7.18 Constitution Bench judgement which said that files will not be sent to LG, elected govt will take all decisions and send copy of decision to LG,” he tweeted.

His deputy Manish Sisodia alleged that the bill will stall Delhi’s progress by giving undue powers to the lieutenant governor.

The bill also stated the legislative assembly shall not make any rule to enable itself or its committees to consider the matters of day-to-day administration of the national capital or conduct inquiries in relation to the administrative decisions.

'Any of the rule made in contravention of this proviso, before the commencement of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, shall be void,' it said.

'When a bill has been passed by the legislative assembly, it shall be presented to the lieutenant governor and the lieutenant governor shall declare either that he assents to the bill or that he withholds assent therefrom or that he reserves the bill for the consideration of the president...' it said.

In June 2018, Kejriwal and his Cabinet ministers had staged a sit-in at the lieutenant governor’s office as a power tussle between the then lieutenant governor and the AAP government had intensified.

The Supreme Court had in July 2018 ruled that the lieutenant governor cannot interfere in every decision of the Delhi government and that he must act on aid and advice of the council of ministers.

Since the 2018 judgement, there have been no major flashpoints between the Arvind Kejriwal government and the BJP-led central government.

However, the Centre's move to introduce the bill in Lok Sabha on Monday is likely to revive the power tussle between the two sides.

In a statement issued by the Delhi government, Kejriwal alleged that that the BJP is trying to govern Delhi by gaining entry through the backdoor after losing the assembly elections and the recently held MCD bypolls.

While Sisodia alleged that if the bill is passed, only the lieutenant governor will be running the Delhi government, adding that the bill will render elections and decisions of an elected government for its people as 'meaningless'.

Addressing a press conference, Sisodia said, 'All the decisions taken by the Delhi government for the growth of the city have seen an intrusion by the LG. Files regarding the progress of Mohalla Clinics, CCTVs installation, free electricity, water and schools have collected dust in the LG's office, owing to lack of support from his office,' he said.

He also said, 'Article 3a of 239AA of the Indian Constitution states that subject to the provisions of the constitution, the legislative assembly shall have power to make laws for the whole or any part of the national capital territory with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the state of list or in the concurrent list in so far as any such matter is applicable to union territories except matters with respect to entries 1,2, and 18 of the state list and entries 44, 65 and 66 of that list in so far as they relate to the said entries 1,2,and 18.' However, Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta claimed that despite the NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, about 75 per cent of administrative powers will rest with Delhi's elected government and advised the ruling AAP to not ensue any power struggle.

'Even as the Bill is introduced in the Lok Sabha, 75 per cent of administrative power will remain with the local government and it would be better that instead of starting any new power struggle, the Arvind Kejriwal dispensation concentrates on giving good governance and developing Delhi,' Gupta said. PTI VIT/UZM BUN RHL