New Delhi: A central ordinance last week that effectively overruled a Supreme Court ruling in favour of the Delhi government has become the latest rallying point of Opposition parties against the BJP-led national regime.
On Tuesday, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal flew to Kolkata to seek the support of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee against this ordinance – which has side-stepped an apex court verdict that gave the elected Delhi government control over its services, excluding those related to police, public order and land.
After the five-judge Constitution bench’s ruling on 11 May, the Centre last Friday created a National Capital Civil Service Authority, which will handle the transfer of IAS and DANICS-cadre officers and also matters of disciplinary proceedings against them.
The body will include the chief minister as the chairperson, the chief secretary and the principal home secretary.
All matters required to be decided by the Authority will be determined by majority of votes of the members present. In case of a difference of opinion, the decision of the Lieutenant Governor – the Centre’s representative – would be final.
The ordinance has to be ratified by Parliament within six months – for which, the Centre will need to get a bill passed in both Houses. The BJP is short in numbers in the Upper House, where it could be defeated by a combined Opposition.
After her meeting with Kejriwal – who was also accompanied by Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann – Mamata said, “The Centre has brought this ordinance against the Delhi government despite a Supreme Court verdict… I will appeal to all parties to come together in opposition… This is an opportunity… This will send a big message if we can defeat the BJP in Rajya Sabha. This ordinance will then go. We have got an opportunity to defeat the BJP before 2024. We will also go to the Supreme Court for justice.”
Banerjee said the BJP’s ego had passed all limits. “What do they think? Are we their bonded labour, servants? We are concerned that they will change the Constitution, change the name of this country…If we don’t understand this today, then people will not forgive us,” Mamata said.
The Trinamool Congress chief added she was shocked that the Centre has defied a Supreme Court verdict.
#WATCH | This government has become a government 'of the agency, by the agency and for the agency'. We fear the Central govt might change the Constitution, they might change the name of the country… They don't even respect the Supreme Court verdicts: WB CM Mamata Banerjee pic.twitter.com/JHisRxfUUB
— ANI (@ANI) May 23, 2023
Kejriwal, also accompanied by party leaders Atishi Singh and Raghav Chadha, has already sought the support of all non-BJP parties. He called this a “time for agni pariksha (trial by fire)” for Opposition parties, exhorting them to come together “to save the country’s democracy and Constitution”.
The AAP leader thanked Mamata for her assurance, saying: “We need to topple this arrogant government. I believe if this Bill is defeated in the Rajya Sabha, it will be a semi-final for 2024 (Lok Sabha elections).”
Having got Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s help in the matter, the AAP chief is likely to meet Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar in Mumbai on Wednesday.