The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday moved a resolution in the assembly declaring a Union home ministry notification curbing the Delhi government’s powers as unconstitutional, a step that could deepen an all-out turf war between chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung.
The AAP government plans to pass the resolution on Wednesday and send it to the president for his intervention, setting the stage for greater confrontation between the Centre and state government over the notification that also curbed the Delhi government’s anti-corruption department.
On the first day of an emergency assembly session called to discuss the notification, AAP legislator Adarsh Shastri also demanded a resolution be passed in the assembly to amend the Constitution, which will enable state legislatures to impeach governors and lieutenant governors. Shastri said this was his personal view which some experts called absurd.
“There is no such provision. The President appoints the LG and only he can remove him. Impeachment is a difficult process for removing officials like a judge. One House of the Parliament frames charges, the other investigates,” said SK Sharma, a former Lok Sabha secretary who also served as Delhi assembly secretary from 1993 to 2002. “What the MLA proposed in the Delhi assembly is just a cheap gimmick.”
There was ruckus in the House when the BJP’s three legislators protested against a comment by the Speaker who then called in marshals and they escorted BJP leader OP Sharma out of the assembly.
The power struggle between Kejriwal and Jung is rooted in Delhi’s unique position as a union territory functioning as the Capital, with the state government having no power over several important departments and agencies that function under the lieutenant governor, who reports to the Centre.
“Tomorrow the central government can say that you don’t have control over the sources of water so you can't supply water to the city,” deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said in the House. “The issuance of the notification is an insult to the biggest mandate given by Delhi’s people.”
The AAP scored a landslide victory in this year’s Delhi elections, winning 67 of the Capital’s 70 seats with promises to uproot corruption and offer of cheap water and power.
The NDA government’s notification issued last week barred Delhi’s anti-corruption branch (ACB) from registering cases against officers and political functionaries of the central government.
However, the Delhi high court ruled on Monday that the ACB had the authority to investigate central government officials, including the city’s police personnel.
Alleging that the notification was in violation of the Constitution, Sisodia said his government moved the resolution in the House as attempts were being made to “curb the rights” of a democratically-elected government.
“Delhi was plagued by corruption. People have given us a massive mandate to run the government. This government has taken corruption head on and achieved unprecedented success,” he said. “The Centre is trying to thwart the Delhi government's attempts. The ACB has done unprecedented work in the last 100 days despite several odds.”
Kejriwal met Jung before the two-day assembly session kicked off on Tuesday and, according to sources, the chief minister showed the L-G the high court order and outlined his views on the issue.