The Rajya Sabha today passed a controversial bill that would give the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi — the Centre’s representative — more powers than the city’s elected government, despite a walkout by the Congress and many other opposition leaders. The bill can be seen as a major blow for Arvind Kejriwal’s administration, which has been at odds with the Lieutenant Governor since taking power in the national capital for the first time in 2013.
The Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill clarifies that the word “government” in Delhi refers to the Lieutenant Governor, and that the Lieutenant Governor’s opinion must be sought before the Delhi government can take any action.
Mr Kejriwal, in a tweet, said: “RS passes GNCTD amendment Bill. Sad day for Indian democracy. We will continue our struggle to restore power back to people. Whatever be the obstacles, we will continue doing good work. Work will neither stop nor slow down.”
After two days of pandemonium in the Upper House, where opposition MPs repeatedly declared that it would kill democracy, it was passed. It should be referred to a Select Committee, according to the opposition.
More About The Amendment Bill:
The bill was passed by voice vote in the Rajya Sabha today. When the government moved the bill for consideration, the opposition hoped for a split. During the vote, 83 deputies voted in favour of the bill, while 45 voted against it. The Congress, too, walked out just before it was passed.
“The way Draupadi’s clothes were ripped off (in Mahabharat) — the Constitution is being given the same treatment,” said Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh, who earlier said the BJP brought the bill because it lost the assembly elections in Delhi twice.
“The Constitution of the country is being changed without any Constitutional amendment,” said Mr Singh. He was pointing out that the system of administration in Delhi was arrived at after 69 Constitutional amendments.
Any constitutional amendment in India requires a two-thirds majority in parliament, not a simple majority, and the BJP does not have the necessary numbers in the Upper House.
The bill was opposed by most opposition parties, including the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, Shiv Sena, Andhra Pradesh’s ruling YSR Congress, and the Akali Dal. In the middle of today’s controversy, the YSR Congress walked out.
“Two crore people chose the government. What is our crime? All this was done because Kejriwal did not put farmers in jail when they came to Delhi. The bill must be cancelled,” Mr Singh said.