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Moving swiftly after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal pulled the plug on his own government, the union cabinet on Saturday recommended the imposition of President’s rule in Delhi with the assembly placed under suspended animation.
This is the first time that the Capital will come under central rule since 1993 when the Delhi assembly was set up. HTC-Fore survey
The presidential proclamation, giving lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung the powers to run the Delhi government, could come in as early as Sunday. Apart from the police and DDA that he already controls, Jung would be in charge of all other areas handled by the chief minister, including the jal board, transport, health and social welfare.
Kejriwal had put in his papers on Friday and recommended dissolution of the assembly after a failed attempt to introduce his government’s flagship jan lokpal bill in the House. Minutes after the cabinet’s decision, he wondered why the Centre and L-G had kept the assembly in suspended animation. Would it not encourage horse trading, he tweeted.
The BJP’s Harsh Vardhan said the party was “mentally prepared for President’s rule or even dissolution of the assembly. In case fresh elections were to happen next week, the party is ready for that too”. The Congress’ Haroon Yusuf said the L-G has taken the right decision to recommend President’s rule.
The cabinet decision came hours after Jung, in his report to the Centre, recommended President’s rule and asked that the assembly be placed under suspended animation — a state in which it can be revived at any time if political formations can demonstrate that they can form a government. The assembly can be irrevocably dissolved only with Parliament’s approval.
Government sources said one option before the Centre now was to seek parliamentary approval for President’s rule — which is valid for six months — and a vote-on-account to authorise expenditure by the Delhi government for the next financial year. This would open the doors for early dissolution of the assembly and enable the Election Commission to hold simultaneous elections to the state legislature and the Lok Sabha — expected in April-May.
This is a discomforting for many in the Congress. Its leaders believe that the party — which ended up with its lowest tally of just eight seats in the December elections — is yet to find its feet. “Our assessment is that if simultaneous elections are held, the party’s tally won’t improve... We don’t stand to gain,” he said.
The way to avoid this situation, according to government sources, is to either leave it to the next government at the Centre to seek parliamentary approval for central rule or by deferring notification of assembly’s dissolution.
Former Lok Sabha secretary general TK Vishwanathan suggested that there was no legal compulsion for the government to get President’s rule “ratified during the ongoing session. It can be ratified by the next Lok Sabha too”.
Ditto for passing the vote on account. “If Delhi’s VoA is not approved by Parliament, the President can later promulgate an ordinance on it,” he said.