NEW DELHI: In the middle of a bitter tussle for power with Lieutenant Governor that had reached the Supreme Court, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday received unusual support from several opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha. Leaders of four parties called for an end to the turf war in Delhi, with the Samajwadi Party accusing the centre’s nominee of treating the Chief Minister like a peon.
“The Delhi government has no powers. The Lieutenant Governor treats Delhi’s Chief Minister like a chaparasi (peon). This is an insult to the Chief Minister,” Samajwadi Party’s Naresh Agarwal told the Rajya Sabha, seeking more powers for the Aam Aadmi Party government in the national capital.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party has repeatedly accused Lieutenant Governors – first Najeeb Jung and then his successor Anil Baijal — of overstepping their limits and blocking the Delhi government’s moves on the orders of the BJP-led Central Government. A petition filed by Chief Minister Kejriwal is also pending before the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench.
Arvind Kejriwal has blamed the Lt Governor for trying to block initiatives taken by the elected government on several occasions. Just this week, Mr Kejriwal had accused Lt Governor Anil Baijal for vetoing his plan to start home delivery of public services such as birth certificates and ration cards to residents.
The Samajwadi Party leader had come to the AAP government’s defence in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, when during a debate on regularizing unauthorized constructions in Delhi, Union Minister Vijay Goel blamed the elected government for failing to act against illegal constructions and asked the government to dismiss the elected government.
The Aam Aadmi Party does not have a seat in the Rajya Sabha yet. That is set to change when elections are held for three Rajya Sabha seats from Delhi next month.
Mr Agarwal, whose concerns were later echoed by speakers from the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and two of her bitter rivals, CPI and the CPM, countered attacks on the elected government.
But it is Delhi’s three municipal corporations, where the BJP is in power, that are mandated to check unauthorized constructions, Mr Agarwal said, rebutting Union Minister Goel, also a BJP leader from Delhi. “In any case, you can level allegations against the Delhi government when it has some power,” he asserted.
With several lawmakers seeking an end to the turf war in Delhi, Deputy Chairman PJ Kurian later asked Union Urban Development Minister Hardee Singh Puri to do something about it.
The former diplomat accepted the suggestion, promising to try to broker peace between the Chief Minister and Lieutenant Governor but conceded that it was not going to be easy.
“In four decades of public life, I have faced many challenges. I tried to negotiate with terrorists. This is going to be a difficult one, but I accept your challenge and I will try and negotiate,” the minister told the House.