As the Lok Sabha on Thursday gave its nod to a Bill that gives the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) of Delhi control over Group A services, Union Minister Amit Shah said the Opposition parties belonging to the Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) came together to oppose the Bill for the sake of their alliance and not for “democracy, the country or its people”.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was passed by voice vote amid a Opposition walkout.
“Today the country is witnessing the dual face of Opposition. For them, the Bills for public welfare are not important. To ensure a small party does not leave their alliance, they have joined forces,” Mr. Shah said, referring to the nine Bills that were passed without discussion because of Opposition protests.
Mr. Shah said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was opposing the Delhi Bill with the sole intention of hiding its corruption and claimed that the alliance would break up in any case. “Arvind Kejriwalji [AAP convenor and Delhi Chief Minister] would say bye-bye to the alliance once this Bill is passed,” he said.
The debate on the Bill in the Lower House had clear political undertones as Mr. Shah said no matter how many parties came together ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the Narendra Modi government would be voted back to power with full majority.
SC order violated
In a sharp retort, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader Dayanidhi Maran said the INDIA bloc was going strong, before adding,“You never know, in 2024, you will be here, and we will be there (treasury benches).”
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the Bill violated the May 11 order of the Supreme Court which empowered the Delhi Assembly to make decisions regarding civil services in Delhi. He said now “bureaucrats can veto an elected Chief Minister”.
After the passage of the Bill following a debate lasting for more than four hours, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla suspended the lone AAP member from Punjab, Sushil Kumar Rinku, for the remaining six days of the Monsoon session for showing disrespect towards the Chair by throwing papers at it when the Bill was introduced on Tuesday.
Earlier, replying to the debate on the Bill, the Home Minister said the BJP and the Congress had ruled the National Capital without any confrontation since 1993, but problems arose only in 2015 as “the government that came had no intention to serve but only to fight with the Centre”.
He also invoked India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Babasaheb Ambedkar and Congress leaders Sardar Patel, C. Rajagopalchari and Rajendra Prasad to state that they had opposed the proposal for full statehood to Delhi.
The Home Minister claimed that the Kejriwal government’s fight against the Delhi services Bill was largely focused on getting control of the vigilance department that is scrutinising the Delhi excise policy, expenditure incurred on renovating the official residence of the Chief Minister, setting up of an “illegal” feedback unit, 90 crores of government being spent on advertisements for the AAP and so on.
In his speech, Mr. Chowdhury said if the Bill was allowed to pass, then the Centre would overrule elected Assemblies in other States and make decisions for them. Adding to such an argument, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said the Bill could even pave way for Centre converting cities like Hyderabad and Bengaluru into Union Territories.
While Minister of State for External Affairs and Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi argued that India had a quasi federal structure and the Centre had primacy, Congress member Shashi Tharoor said the country was witnessing “coercive federalism”.
Support for Bill
YSRCP MP P.V. Midhun Reddy supported the Bill, saying this was a unique Bill, and expressed hope that it would not be replicated for other States.
Supporting the Bill, Biju Janata Dal member Pinaki Misra said this law cannot be brought with respect of “full States” such as Odisha, Rajasthan and West Bengal and can be done only in the case of the National Capital Territory of Delhi as it has peculiar and special status.
The Home Minister also reiterated his earlier statement in the House that he was ready to answer any question and debate the Manipur situation for any length of time.