The five-day Budget session of the Delhi Assembly began on Monday with the address of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, his first speech to the legislative House since assuming office in December last year.
Budget session start with the L-G’s address (the President does the same for Parliament sessions and governors in states). The speech, which is prepared by the state government and cleared by the Cabinet, is a window to the government’s functioning and plans.
Baijal’s speech stayed away from raising ‘controversial’ issues, especially those that led to repeated confrontations between the Delhi government and the Centre.
In the last year’s speech, then L-G Najeeb Jung had prominently mentioned the legislative Bills pending with the central government. “My government seeks greater support from the Central government in order to cater better to needs of the people of national capital territory of Delhi,” Najeeb Jung had said last year before ending his speech.
However, despite the fact that Centre’s approval is still awaited on almost all of those bills, the issue find no mention in Baijal’s speech.
Unlike the “tumultuous” relationship between Jung and the AAP government, Baijal has had a “smooth” run ever since he took over from Jung in December. Baijal has cleared some critical projects of the AAP government over the past one month.
While technically the L-G sticks to the script as it is the “prerogative” of the government to outline its priorities through the L-G’s speech, officials said objections could be raised by people holding the chair in terms of language and choice of words. “Such small changes are fixed informally,” an official said.
Besides enlisting government’s achievement, the L-G’s speech also reflects upon the future plans of the government. Last year, Jung spoke about rolling out 1,000 buses, installation of CCTV cameras on buses and elsewhere, especially to ensure women safety, providing a health insurance scheme, opening Aam Aadmi canteen among others. However, the speech this year does not mention the fate of these projects.
Though the government described odd-even and car-free days as game-changing tools to curb pollution in the city, the measures did not find space in L-G’s speech.
In terms of length, Baijal’s speech was also printed in 32 pages, like Jung’s address last year. However, the speech this time was shorter by about 1,500 words.