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Overreach by central agencies

On 5th August 2019, after the controversial law that split the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two different Union Territories was passed, the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal wrote this on Twitter, "We support the govt on its decisions on J & K. We hope this will bring peace and development in the state". Last Monday, after the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Bill was passed in the Lok sabha, he tweeted: "Passage of GNCTD amendment Bill in Lok Sabha today is an insult to the people of Delhi. The Bill effectively takes away powers from those who were voted by people and gives powers to run Delhi to those who were defeated. BJP has cheated the people". The Delhi government is one that even as it is, enjoys very limited powers. The new amendment now strips them of even that, handing it over to the Lieutenant Governor.

The central government under Narendra Modi is not one of a type familiar to people. As mentioned often earlier in this column, they bear an agenda to overthrow our very constitution. Our experience and vision of India is a union of several states and a few union territories. However, Modi and the BJP aim to make the whole of it a single union territory. One should not make the mistake of presuming that they would do it with a single constitutional amendment, but that goal is almost being realised through different laws in stages. With the NIA (National Investigation Agency) Amendment Act, they are now able to overstep state governments and interfere in law and order affairs. With GST (Goods & Services Tax), the financial independence of states has been destroyed. Through the National Education Policy, the state governments are to lose their powers in the domain of education. More laws like this will probably follow. However, the opposition parties are failing to even understand these laws properly, let alone opposing them. When the state of Jammu and Kashmir was dissolved, most of the opposition considered it 'deserving' for what they thought was a 'state full of terrorists'. It is not surprising that 'apolitical politicians' like Arvind Kejriwal had supported the move. Now when the same strategy has been used against his government, he is left watching in shock.

As of now, Kerala government has filed a case against, and ordered a judicial enquiry into the Centre's Enforcement Directorate. This is a decision of the Pinarayi Vijayan government that the entire democratic community should greet with raised hands. It is a matter to be seen how valid this move will be from the perspective of legal technicalities. All the same, the government has made that carries grave political significance. When the Centre through the introduction of GST made the states financially reliant, (for a moment we can ignore the fact that Kerala's finance minister Thomas Isaac is one who had ardently supported GST), the state formulated its own source of funding through the mechanism of 'KIIFB' (Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board). It is an entity that came into being through a law enacted by the state assembly. To conduct a raid in the office of such an entity and to venture to take legal action against it are clearly acts of overreach. The state government has therefore adopted a policy of hitting back against the agency in the same coin. The state government's decision amounts to upholding the values of federalism. The Congress, which has opposed the government move to file a case against ED and to conduct a judicial probe into it, needs only to be reminded the experience of Kejriwal referred to above. Why is the Congress incapable of seeing the Centre's move as a move against states, and not as one against the Pinarayi Vijayan government? And on their part, the CPM and the government should not view this either as a plot against this particular government. This is a move against the very concept of states. What is needed is a resistance against such moves, by bringing together all stake holders of the state. The ruling front and the Opposition have equal responsibility to turn the state's effort into part of a crucial struggle to protect India's federal structure.

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TAGS:Judicial enquiry Kerala government Enforcement Directorate KIIFB Kerala 
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