Centre grabs Delhi power as contentious Delhi Governance Bill gets 131 votes against 102text_fields
New Delhi: In a late-night session, the contentious Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, secured the approval of the Parliament's upper house, Rajya Sabha, following its earlier passage in the lower house, Lok Sabha.
The bill, which aims to redefine the powers of the Lieutenant Governor and bureaucrats in Delhi, was passed with 131 votes in favour and 102 against, reflecting a divide within the political spectrum.
The ruling alliance, along with the BJD and YSRCP parties, managed to secure crucial votes to tip the balance in favour of the bill. Despite a concerted effort by the opposition alliance, which brought forth former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and ailing leader Shibu Soren for the vote, the bill crossed the approval threshold.
The Bill's passage comes as a culmination of a long-standing dispute over governance control in the National Capital Territory. It replaces an earlier ordinance that was introduced after a Supreme Court ruling asserting the elected government's authority over services in Delhi. However, the AAP-led Delhi government challenged its constitutionality, leading to a referral of the matter to a Constitution Bench.
Throughout the eight-hour debate, emotions ran high, with bitter exchanges between the opposition and the ruling party members. Union Home Minister Amit Shah delivered a scathing attack on the opposition, asserting that the Bill was in line with the Supreme Court's judgment and did not violate any constitutional principles.
Shah defended the bill's provisions, arguing that they were consistent with the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993, which were initially established by Congress. He emphasized that the Bill aimed to address roadblocks in the development of Delhi and the rollout of 5G technology caused by the AAP-led government's actions.
One point of contention was the opposition's concern that the Bill empowers officers to draft Cabinet notes, potentially infringing on the elected government's authority. Shah countered this by highlighting that officers already play a significant role in this process and that the Bill aimed to incorporate existing rules rather than introduce new elements.
A significant part of the debate centred around allegations of corruption and misuse of power. Shah claimed that the urgency behind the ordinance was driven by the need to prevent the concealment of documents related to various cases, including the liquor scam and misuse of government funds.
The Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, also came under scrutiny during the debate, with Shah referring to the Chief Minister's residence as "Sheesh Mahal," alluding to alleged extravagant expenses. This comment sparked controversy, but Shah defended his stance, emphasizing the need to address corruption and misuse of resources.
Shah questioned the alliances formed between seemingly conflicting parties, suggesting that political expedience and power struggles were driving these unions. He confidently predicted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would secure re-election in 2024.