Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann met Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today with a single message – what happened in Delhi today, can happen to any other opposition-ruled state tomorrow. If the Centre’s bill to convert the Ordinance on Delhi bureaucrats’ services is defeated in Rajya Sabha, “it will be the Semi-final before 2024,” said the Delhi Chief Minister, who is on a mission to unite the opposition on the issue and defeat the Centre’s bill on the matter in Rajya Sabha.
“This (the fight for control) is not just about Delhi. Even the West Bengal Governor does the same thing. Even (Bhagwant) Mann is alleging same. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister told me that the Governor sitting on lot of bills,” Mr Kejriwal told the media during a briefing after the meet.
Ms Banerjee, one of the severest critics of the Centre, alleged that “atrocities” are being committed on Opposition-ruled states. “Only the Supreme Court can save the country,” she added.
But even the Supreme Court’s rulings are being subverted, Ms Banerjee said. “The Supreme Court gave a strong verdict after so many years. But ultimately, the Central government will rule all states through ordinances and governors, letters… They don’t want to respect the verdict,” she added.
“What do they (the BJP) think? Are we their bonded labour? Are we their servants? We are worried that they may change the constitution and change the country’s name to party’s name. They want to bulldoze the constitution… It is a government of the bulldozer, by the bulldozer, for the bulldozer,” Ms Banerjee said.
Agreeing that the BJP “is a threat to the Constitution, Bhagwant Mann said, “If 30 Governors and a Prime Minister want to run the country, why spend so much on elections? If a Lieutenant Governor means a government, why are crores of people voting in elections?”
The Ordinance passed late on Friday evening, overrides a recent order of the Supreme Court, which said the elected government is the boss of Delhi in terms of control of bureaucrats.
It creates a National Capital Civil Services Authority which is tasked with the postings and transfers of bureaucrats serving in Delhi. The Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary and the Principal Home Secretary will be members who can vote on issues. The final arbiter is the Lieutenant Governor.
The judgment came after an eight-year tussle between the Centre and the Arvind Kejriwal government, following the Centre’s decision to place the Services department under the control of the Lieutenant Governor in 2015.
Mr Kejriwal pointed out again that the Centre brought in the Ordinance after the Supreme Court went on vacation, “else it would have been stayed immediately”.
The Aam Aadmi Party chief has already met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. He expects to meet Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray and NCP Chief Sharad Pawar on May 24 and 25 in Mumbai to discuss the plan to block the Ordinance in the Rajya Sabha.
The Trinamool Congress has 12 MPs in the upper house of parliament. Sharad Pawar’s NCP has four MPs, and Shiv Sena (UBT) has three members in the Upper House.
The bill on the matter is expected to be brought in parliament in the monsoon session, which begins in July, and the BJP is confident that it will be passed in both houses.
The current strength of Rajya Sabha is 238 and the majority mark is 119. Both NDA and the opposition currently have 110 seats, but a chunk of those belong to the Congress, which is yet to decide their stance on the bill.