Punjab, Delhi Congress units wary of backing AAP

Centre’s ordinance negates the Supreme Court verdict which gave the AAP-led Delhi government the power to control the services

May 23, 2023 08:01 pm | Updated May 24, 2023 10:20 am IST - New Delhi

Senior Congress leader Ajay Maken. File

Senior Congress leader Ajay Maken. File | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Senior Congress leaders from Delhi and Punjab met at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) on the issue of support to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in its fight against the Centre’s ordinance that effectively negates the Supreme Court verdict which gave the AAP-led Delhi government the power to control over services.

Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly Partap Singh Bajwa, senior Delhi Congress leaders Ajay Maken and Sandeep Dikshit, who were among those who attended May 23’s meeting, took to social media platforms to oppose any support for the AAP.

In a statement, posted on his Twitter handle, Mr. Maken explained the political as well as legal reasons why the Congress should not back Mr. Kejriwal. Citing political reasons, Mr. Maken said that Mr. Kejriwal sought the Congress’ support but in the past along with the BJP passed a resolution requesting the Union government to withdraw the Bharat Ratna bestowed upon former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

“Mr. Kejriwal backed the BJP both inside and outside of Parliament on the Jammu & Kashmir issue, and supported the BJP during the move to impeach CJI Dipak Mishra on various charges. Was the first to implement the controversial anti-farmer laws and his party also opposed the Opposition’s candidate for the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson and instead supported the BJP-sponsored candidate,” Mr. Maken said. He added that the AAP fought the Assembly elections in Gujarat, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Uttarakhand, and Karnataka elections which were all States where the Congress was the primary Opposition or the ruling party and put up candidates against the Congress which only helped the BJP.

Giving a legal reason not to support the AAP, Mr. Maken said that paragraph 95 of the Supreme Court decision on the May 11 order allows the Union government to modify the law. It states, “However if Parliament enacts a law granting executive power on any subject within the domain of NCTD, the executive power of the Lieutenant Governor shall be modified to the extent, as provided in that law.”

Talking about administrative reasons, Mr. Maken said that the principles of cooperative federalism did not fit in Delhi’s context as it was not just a State or Union Territory but the National Capital belonging to the Union and, thus, to every Indian citizen. “As the National Capital, the Union government annually spends approximately ₹37,500 crores on various services, a burden not shared by the Delhi government,” Mr. Maken said.

While Mr. Maken took to Twitter to argue why the Congress should not support the AAP, Mr. Bajwa strongly endorsed his views. As the AAP plans to unite Opposition parties against the Centre’s Ordinance on control of services in Delhi, Mr. Bajwa, on Tuesday said, “AAP doesn’t deserve Congress’ solidarity.”

“@AamAadmiParty & @ArvindKejriwal deserve no support or sympathy from @INCIndia. @AAPPunjab govt has launched ruthless witch-hunt against @INCPunjab leaders and workers and has made their lives hell by misusing the police and investigation agencies,” tweeted Mr. Bajwa.

In a statement, Mr. Bajwa said that the AAP deserves no solidarity from the Congress party because it had unleashed a ruthless witch-hunt campaign against the Congress MLAs, leaders and workers in Punjab and made their lives hell by misusing the police and investigation agencies.

The Congress leader urged the party “high command” to consult the leadership of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, and Karnataka before considering to help the AAP on the Ordinance issue.

“In order to strangulate the voice of the main Opposition party – the Congress Party – in Punjab, the AAP government in Punjab stooped to the lowest level and lodged false FIRs against Congress leaders and workers, right from the former chief minister to village sarpanches and panches,” alleged Mr. Bajwa.

“I appeal to INC high command to consult the leadership of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, and Karnataka before even considering to help AAP. It was instrumental in giving a political edge to BJP in these States. The AAP is the B team of BJP and they are two sides of the same coin,” he said.

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