NEW DELHI

Relief for Sheila as Delhi budget session ends



Sujay Mehdudia

The Chief Minister had come under fire not only from the Opposition but also her own partymen on various issues

NEW DELHI: The end of the budget session of the Delhi Assembly on Friday has come as a big relief for Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit who had come under fire not only from the opposition BJP but also her own party's legislators on various important issues. The 12-day session that began on a stormy note turned into a "virtual nightmare'' for the Congress Government as one report after another indicted the authorities for corruption and protecting corrupt officials.

On her part, an apprehensive Ms. Dikshit despite making a promise did not convene another meeting of the Congress Legislature Party fearing an outcry by dissident MLAs. While supporters of the Chief Minister termed it as one of the worst sessions for her during the last seven years of her regime, political observers felt that she failed to come clear on the issue of corruption.

Controversy

In fact she got embroiled in a controversy for going out of the way to protect the interests of a private company as well as some bureaucrats who had been indicted by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for indulging in corruption by using legislative protection to help them. Senior Congress MLA S. C. Vats got accolades for having done a superb job in framing the two PAC reports on the smart card scam and the controversial privatisation of power in the Capital.

Although the dissident MLAs did not create any unsavoury situation for the Government, they raised very important matters inside the House putting the ruling party in the dock. Be it the issue of the 140 million gallons a day Sonia Vihar water treatment plant, privatisation of power, Rs. 150-crore smart card scam, ongoing demolitions in the Capital or the closure of shops in residential areas, the ruling party was found wanting on all issues. The otherwise dull proceedings livened up with strong performances from the likes of senior legislators Ram Babu Sharma, Bhisham Sharma and Mukesh Sharma.

Among the Ministers, it was once again Finance Minister A.K. Walia and Education Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely who came up with sterling performances. So satisfied were the legislators with the performance of Mr. Lovely that only one question was posed to him during Question Hour in the entire session. Mr. Lovely also earned the praise of the House for making important interventions during the debates in the House and handling issues concerning his departments authoritatively.

Bidhuri's role

With the BJP mostly staying out of the House in protest, the role of an effective opposition was left to Nationalist Congress Party MLA Ramvir Singh Bidhuri. In fact, Mr. Bidhuri raised a number of important issues concerning demolitions, rural areas, urbanised villages and other matters. His speech on demolitions in which he came down heavily on the Chief Minister for taking the people of Delhi for a ride by turning a blind eye to the major issues was rated the best. Mr. Bidhuri also earned the appreciation of the Speaker. As for Ms. Dikshit, she heaved a sigh of relief at the conclusion of the budget session. This was one of the most hostile sessions faced by her where she and her Government came under severe attack for being allegedly involved in corruption, having failed to secure the interests of Delhiites and avoiding a debate on the poor power and water situation in the Capital.