If the Lieutenant Governor is so sovereign and supreme, then why do we elect our representatives in the first instance is the question. Why is the Centre secretly introducing the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) bill in the Parliament and contesting the legitimacy of the Delhi government from taking up concerns that impact and influence the common and the ordinary?
From free electricity up to 200 units, free bus rides for women, doorstep delivery of ration, mechanisation of sewage cleaning operations, and excellence in healthcare and education have been some of the pioneering interventions by the AAP government in Delhi. Recently, the party won four of the five seats in the MCD by-polls, causing discomfort to its closet rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which drew a blank in these by-polls.
The BJP very well knows that they can’t afford to lose the high stakes of the MCD battle to the AAP in next year’s municipal elections at any cost. Hence, they are resorting to back-door legislation, weakening the negotiating and bargaining power and position of the Delhi government. For all reasons and purposes, it will be the Lieutenant Governor who will call the shots from behind-the-scenes on matters of political and administrative controls and measures.
In this regards, the elected government of the people will suffer electorally as it happened in the union territory of Puducherry, where the Centre cleverly played its cards to destabilise the Naryanswamy government by sacking Kiran Bedi from the post of Governor. I doubt if the Centre is creating a discontent and dissatisfaction in the minds of those who voted for the AAP in the Delhi Assembly elections in 2015 and 2020.
I am of the view that the Centre, by painting Kejriwal as an anarchist and incompetent as an administrator, is politically picking up on its constituents and base. It’s a game in which the BJP is a master and can depict its opponents and adversaries in a grey. Kejriwal’s previous tenure was marked by conflicts and contradictions, calling for constant run-ins with the Centre on a range of issues from air pollution to law and order management in a city-state like Delhi.
Article 239AA has become a bone of contention by empowering the Lieutenant Governor in Delhi to refer any matter to the President in case of any difference with the Council of Ministers, although the matter was put to rest in 2018 by the five-judge Supreme Court Bench, upholding the pre-eminence of the Delhi government in matters other than police, public order and land.
First and foremost, it is important for the Centre to revisit the claims of this verdict for a better clarity on the allocation and distribution of ranks and responsibilities between the Centre and State, especially in a union territory such as Delhi. Abiding the principles of cooperative federalism will do a lot in dispelling disbelief and disgruntlement between the constitutionally representatives of the state. I would like to quote the lines of Justice DY Chandrachud, which he famously gave in 2018 while delivering this said verdict: “In a democratic form of government, the real power must subsist in the elected arms of the state.”
With this, I would like to rest my case by keeping a close watch on developments from here on.