Aam Aadmi Party’s Raghav Chadha launched a blistering attack on the government today during the debate on the Delhi Services bill in parliament, exhorting the BJP to follow their own leaders — Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani — who wanted full-fledged statehood for Delhi. The BJP, he alleged, is reacting to the fact that they have lost multiple consecutive elections in Delhi. In effect, they are violating federalism and are changing the Constitution without having to cross the hurdle of passing a Constitutional amendment bill.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023 — which replaces an Ordinance that wrested control of bureaucrats from the Delhi government — has already passed the Lok Sabha test. It was presented in the Upper House today for debate and vote.
The Aam Aadmi Party, which would be most affected by the proposed law, has been campaigning against it for weeks, rallying the Opposition against the bill, which was expected to be tabled in the ongoing monsoon session.
AAP has argued that the proposed law will set a precedent that can be used to strip any opposition-ruled state of its power of governance, sidelining the elected government.
The bill, he said, demolishes the triple chain of accountability. It means the officers will not listen to the Chief minister or the Deputy Chief Minister, “They will go to the Lieutenant Governor,” he added.
“In 25 years, BJP lost six state elections, even in 2015 and 2020. They know they can’t any win elections in 25 next years,” Mr Chadha said, repeating his party’s argument that this is BJP backlash to AAP’s sweeping victory in two consecutive elections. The party has repeatedly accused the BJP to trying to control Delhi through its representative, the Lieutenant Governor.
The BJP’s stance towards Delhi, he added, flies in the face of the cherished views of its tallest leaders – former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani.
“Vajpayee and deputy PM Advani brought a bill to give Delhi the status of state. The BJP National Executive decided to give statehood to Delhi. The BJP has been promising people that they would make Delhi a state,” Mr Chadha said.
“I want to tell Amit Shah ji, don’t be Nehruvadi, be Advaniwadi,” he added.
The senior AAP leader also accused the party of insulting the Supreme Court.
“What crisis came that you had to go against a Supreme Court order? This is an insult of the country’s top court. The BJP given a message that it doesn’t care what the Supreme Court says, they have challenged the Supreme Court,” he said, pointing to the executive order that was passed barely a week after the Supreme Court decision in favour of the AAP government.
The Ordinance and the proposed law to replace it over-rides the Supreme Court order that ceded Delhi’s administrative control to the elected government. After an eight-year tussle between the Centre and the Arvind Kejriwal government, the Supreme Court had ruled that the elected government is the boss of Delhi.
The Ordinance created a National Capital Civil Services Authority which is tasked with postings and transfers of bureaucrats serving in Delhi. The Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary and the Principal Home Secretary are members who can vote on issues. The final arbiter is the Lieutenant Governor.