Kejriwal govt to impeach Jung
The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) cleared a resolution in the Assembly on Tuesday seeking powers to impeach the Lieutenant Governor (LG) Najeeb Jung in a move that deepened an all-out turf war between the Delhi government and the Centre. The decision to impeach Jung was taken even as the Centre sought to strike a conciliatory note, saying it would not interfere with the functioning of the AAP government.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Kolkata that Delhi government had been elected by the people and the Central government would not create any hurdles in its functioning but would extend full cooperation to it. He, however, said everybody should work within the Constitutional framework.
The resolution to impeach the Lt Governor, pushed by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, was ratified on the first day of a special Assembly session that was called to discuss a Union Home Ministry notification giving absolute powers to the LG in appointment and transfer of bureaucrats and issues of police and public order.
The power struggle between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Najeeb 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,” Sisodia said. “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 resolution 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.”
During a 49-day stint in 2013-14, the AAP administration ordered the ACB to register an FIR against then Union Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily and Reliance Industries Limited chief Mukesh Ambani for alleged corruption in gas pricing.
BJP ‘softens’ stand
Meanwhile, the BJP appeared to have softened its position vis-a-vis the Arvind Kejriwal dispensation, with its president Amit Shah saying the differences between the Delhi government and the Centre were due to different interpretation of the Constitution. Apparently seeking to de-escalate the conflict, Shah said the Centre was not in ‘confrontation’ with the AAP government and that the matter would be settled by court. “It is not a confrontation but a matter of interpretation of the Constitution.
The State government is doing it in one way and the Centre in another way. The matter will go to court and it will be settled there,” he told reporters in Delhi. He was asked about the Centre’s tussle with the Delhi government over jurisdiction issues and its alleged ‘mistreatment’ at a time when the Modi dispensation was going to town about its several measures to give more powers to States. “It is not a question of mistreatment. It is a question of different interpretations of the Constitution,” he said.