Srinagar: The Centre on Monday introduced the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in Lok Sabha. The bill was introduced by Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy. One of the proposed amendments is that the term “government” in any law made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the L-G. The bill also adds that the government will have to take the opinion of L-G before taking any executive action based on decisions taken by the Cabinet or any individual ministers. On Wednesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, along with other senior AAP leaders, protested against the bill at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.

“The GNCTD (Amendment) Bill has been brought to deceive the people of Delhi and to stop their progress as well as to stop the development of Delhi,” Kejriwal said on Wednesday.

Abhishek Dutt, Vice-President, Congress-Delhi unit, told The Sunday Guardian: “Congress was the first to come forward and oppose this bill. The sad part is on 3 February 2021, the Cabinet note was approved so we don’t understand why Kejriwal was quiet for almost 50 days. It’s only after we announced our protest, they came forward. So we want to understand if the Shunglu committee is the reason that Kejriwal was quiet for so long? Till now, the government has not tabled the Shunglu Committee report which clearly states that there are a lot of frauds in the Delhi government; also, the Rs 26,000 crore Delhi Jal Board scam. Are these the two reasons Kejriwal, who is known to go on dharnas, was quiet till Congress came into action? During the Congress regime, Kejriwal was on dharna every second day. We request all the Opposition parties to come forward, stand together and oppose this bill and make sure that this purely undemocratic bill is not passed.”

“The powers of the Delhi government are very clear and the Supreme Court in its verdict had also clarified. Land, police, and public order are the three things that will come under the power of the L-G, and the rest of everything is with the state government. Since day one, BJP has talked about giving complete statehood to Delhi. If this was their agenda, then they should have said that we want to cut the present powers of the Delhi government. The people can’t reach out to the L-G. MPs, MLAs are accessible. There are so many issues in Delhi; will the L-G be available on a day-to-day basis? We have already started our protests. We will oppose this in Parliament and make sure that this bill is not passed,” Dutt said.

On Thursday, West Bengal Chief Minister wrote a letter to Kejriwal against the Centre’s bill that gives “overarching” power to the Lieutenant Governor.

“I am writing this letter to convey that my party, Trinamool Congress, and I stand in full solidarity with you in your principled opposition to the Centre’s devious, anti-democratic and anti-Constitutional move to disempower the Delhi government and reduce the status of Delhi’s Chief Minister to a subordinate to the Lieutenant Governor,” the letter stated.

Jaiveer Rana, Vice President, BJP Delhi, told The Sunday Guardian: “If we talk about Union territories, it is clearly stated in our Constitution that the power lies in the hands of the L-G. AAP has just misguided the people of Delhi. Kejriwal doesn’t know how to work on the ground level. He only blames Modiji, Centre, and everybody. The policies of the Centre, even schemes like health benefits for the poor, Kejriwal didn’t implement in Delhi. These people don’t have faith in the Constitution. They don’t like the L-G, the kind of words they use for Modiji. Everyone has assigned powers and they are supposed to do their work. But Kejriwal thinks he alone can run Delhi and the country. BJP is constantly in touch with the people of Delhi. The people trust the BJP. They gave us victory in Lok Sabha, in three MCDs and we are constantly working in favour of the people. These people (AAP) are just problem-creators.”

The issue of power-sharing between the elected government and the L-G was a bone of contention between the ruling AAP government and the BJP-led Centre in its first term. So, in 2018 the matter was taken up by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court. The L-G was bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, it had said. The court had also said: “The status of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is not that of a Governor of a state, rather he remains an administrator, in a limited sense, working with the designation of Lieutenant Governor.” It had also pointed out that the elected government must keep in mind that Delhi is not a state.

The Sunday Guardian tried to reach out to AAP leaders Raghav Chadda and Saurabh Bharadwaj, but didn’t receive any response till the time the story went to press.