Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged on Friday that the Centre was blocking a clutch of key bills passed by the city assembly to stall development work, the latest episode in bitter tussle for the reigns of the Capital.
The Aam Aadmi Party chief accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking revenge for the BJP’s landslide loss in the assembly elections last year after media reports said the Centre had returned 14 bills citing lack of procedure.
“Modi’s slogan--Na kaam karoonga, na karne doonga (Neither will I work, nor will I let others work),” Kejriwal tweeted.
The CM said the central government had no intention of clearing the bills. “They are interfering in everything.”
Three key education bills, the much-touted Janlokpal bill, a bill to amend India’s criminal code and minimum wages are among those pieces of legislation reportedly stuck.
The Centre has repeatedly denied that it is sitting on the bills and said several ministries have to respond to the Delhi government legislation to resolve any potential conflict.
Experts say many of these bills have a wide-ranging ambit--for example, the proposed ombudsman set up under the Janlokpal bill will also have powers to investigate corruption charges against central government employees--and may clash with central law.
Home ministry officials said unlike previous city governments, the AAP administration introduced bills without prior home ministry scrutiny and hence the process of clearing legislation was taking more time.
But Kejriwal rejected the defence, asking if the elected city government had the right to pass legislation.
“Should the central government have the right to block every work done by the Delhi government? Is the Centre the headmaster of the Delhi government?”
The row over possible stalling of the bills is the latest in a string of battles between the AAP and Centre.
Kejriwal’s party crushed the BJP as it rode to power last year in Delhi on a promise of good governance and no corruption but has since repeatedly clashed with the Centre and the lieutenant governor, who reports to the home ministry.
The AAP alleges L-G Najeeb Jung is a proxy for the BJP, which doesn’t want the city administration to succeed, and has hence stalled passage of the bills.
Both sides have been locked in showdowns over officer placement, files and control of the police – the disputes arising from Delhi’s unique position as a union territory where the Centre and state governments share administrative responsibility.
One of these bills – that allowed Delhi MLAs to be appointed as parliamentary secretaries without attracting office-of-profit guideline violation – was rejected by the President earlier this month.
This triggered a row over possible disqualification of 21 AAP legislators with the party accusing the Centre of not respecting democracy and trying to destablise the city government.
(with agency inputs)