New Delhi: A Bill that seeks to make it clear that the "government" in Delhi means the "Lieutenant Governor" was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday amidst strong opposition from the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which said that the legislation is "unconstitutional".
The Centre is "a specialist in abusing the rights of states" and wants to rule Delhi through the soul of the British-era Viceroy, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann said in Lok Sabha, as vehemently opposed the Bill.
Earlier, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has become necessary as there has been ambiguity in certain issues related to the functioning of the Delhi government and several cases were also filed in courts.
"Please do not say that it is a political Bill. It is being brought to end ambiguity in certain issues as Delhi is a Union Territory. It will end certain confusion or technicality and enhance the efficiency of the administration," he said.
The Bill also makes it mandatory for the Delhi government to take the opinion of the L-G before any executive action.
Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party has opposed the Bill. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had even urged the Central government to take back the Bill and said the AAP dispensation was ready to fall at the Modi government's feet for its withdrawal.
Reddy said there has been cordial relations between the central and Delhi governments since 1996 and all differences were resolved through discussions.
However, since 2015, some issues have come up and cases were filed before the Delhi High Court, which also gave certain rulings.
Reddy said the court had also ruled that the L-G should be informed on executive issues of the city government.
He said when the GNCTD Act was enacted in 1991 by the then Congress government, Delhi has been made a UT with an assembly with "limited legislative powers".
"We did not do that. It was a Congress government which piloted the Act then," he said.
Reddy said the LG is an administrator so he has the right to know the day-to-day affairs. "We have not snatched any power from the Delhi government nor we have given any additional power to the LG," he said.
He strongly objected to some Opposition members' reference that the "Modi government is dictatorial" and said the NDA government has not done anything wrong or new but just ended ambiguity and brought clarity on the Delhi government.
Participating in the debate, Congress member Manish Tewari said the Bill was "unconstitutional" as it encroached upon the powers of the city government.
AAP leader Bhagwant Mann said in the Lok Sabha that Centre was "a specialist in abusing the rights of states" and wanted to rule Delhi through the soul of the British-era Viceroy.
During a discussion on the bill, Mann, the sole Lok Sabha member of the AAP that governs Delhi, wondered whether the Centre wants to turn the national capital into a Union territory without Assembly like Jammu and Kashmir.
"The Delhi L-G lives in the house the Viceroy used to stay during the British rule. Maybe, the Centre wants to run Delhi through soul of Viceroy," Mann said.
The AAP MP said if the chief minister of Delhi cannot take any decision, then what's the point of conducting Assembly polls.
"The Centre is a specialist in abusing the rights of states, whether it was in the case of farm laws or in running state governments through governors," he said.
Hitting out at the BJP which is in power at the Centre, Mann said thorough this Bill the party wants to weaken the AAP government in the national capital as it is unable to digest its defeat in assembly elections.
"The BJP should learn to digest defeat. The AAP had won more than 90% of the Assembly seats in Delhi last time and BJP didn't have enough MLAs to be given the Leader of Opposition rank, but still our party gave it," Mann said.
He further said it seems the BJP has forgotten how to sit in the opposition as it is out of power in the national capital for more than two decades.
"Learn to digest your defeat and sit in opposition, otherwise you would get such a huge defeat you would never recover,” he said.
Mann alleged the Bill was against the spirit of federalism and accused the Centre of murdering democracy through this legislation and trying to run the national capital through stick.