Con­fronta­tion in Delhi

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -

ONCE again the Delhi gov­ern ment headed by the chief min­is­ter Arvind Kejriwal finds it­self locked in a bat­tle with the NDA-led cen­tral gov­ern­ment over the is­sue of en­act­ment of cer­tain bills by the lo­cal leg­isla­tive assem­bly putting a ques­tion mark on the func­tion­ing of democ­racy. In fact, there is ev­ery rea­son that Delhi gov­ern­ment sus­pects malaise in the work­ing of the cen­tral gov­ern­ment which con­tin­ues to re­tain power to over-rule the de­ci­sions of the state gov­ern­ment which has not been granted full state­hood by the cen­tre. It is un­for­tu­nate that un­der the fed­eral con­sti­tu­tional demo­cratic sys­tem, one pow­er­ful regime at the cen­tre con­tin­ues to refuse to ac­cept the demo­cratic work­ing of Delhi gov­ern­ment. With the Union Home Min­istry re­turn­ing 14 Bills passed by the Delhi Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly in the course of one year, another round of con­fronta­tion is in the off­ing. The Bills have been re­turned for want of com­pli­ance, with the stip­u­la­tion that the Cen­tre must grant its ‘prior as­sent’ be­fore they can be in­tro­duced in the Delhi Assem­bly. In its re­sponse, the Delhi gov­ern­ment has cited Sec­tion 26 of the Gov­ern­ment of the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory of Delhi Act, 1991, that says no Act can be held in­valid for the sole rea­son that it did not have the pre­vi­ous sanc­tion or rec­om­men­da­tion re­quired by the Act.

Both sides can mar­shal ar­gu­ments to sup­port their claim, but the pro­vi­sions they cite are sub­ject to lim­i­ta­tions. The ‘prior as­sent’ clause that the Cen­tre is re­fer­ring to is lim­ited to Fi­nan­cial Bills, and those that re­late to tax­a­tion and ap­pro­pri­a­tion from the Con­sol­i­dated Fund of the Cap­i­tal. Whether a par­tic­u­lar Bill re­quires prior as­sent or not de­pends on its sub­ject mat­ter. But the Delhi gov­ern­ment is mis­taken in­so­much as Sec­tion 26 is ap­pli­ca­ble only to Acts that had re­ceived the as­sent of the Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor, or, in some cases, the Pres­i­dent. But one con­clu­sion is in­evitable: the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Cen­tre and the Delhi gov­ern­ment is coloured by the un­der­ly­ing po­lit­i­cal con­fronta­tion. It is also un­for­tu­nate that po­lit­i­cal con­fronta­tion be­tween the state and the cen­tre should come in the way when wel­fare of the peo­ple of Delhi is at stake.

The fre­quency with which con­fronta­tion arises be­tween the Cen­tre and the Kejriwal regime raises the ques­tion: is the prob­lem with the law or with the per­son­al­i­ties in­volved? Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief min­is­ter Kejriwal be­lieves that the Cen­tre’s re­luc­tance to grant full state­hood to Delhi is at the heart of the prob­lem. Ad­di­tion­ally, he has of­ten ar­gued that the rul­ing BJP at the Cen­tre and Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi are yet to come to terms with the Aam Aadmi Party’s re­sound­ing vic­tory in last year’s Delhi elec­tion, and that the Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor is im­ped­ing his rou­tine func­tion­ing at the Cen­tre’s be­hest. The BJP wants Kejriwal to fo­cus on gov­er­nance and not to be in per­ma­nent con­fronta­tion mode. Both sides need to step back and try to repair the re­la­tion­ship. Kejriwal would do well to give up his pen­chant for fram­ing is­sues that arise out of the le­gal lim­i­ta­tions on Delhi’s sta­tus as if they were a ma­li­cious con­spir­acy against his gov­ern­ment. Un­til the full state­hood ques­tion is set­tled by Par­lia­ment, he will have to work within the ex­ist­ing frame­work. Un­for­tu­nately, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment has not been in a po­si­tion to grasp the truth be­hind the as­pi­ra­tions of the peo­ple of Delhi, who have voted AAP to vic­tory last year while BJP has only three mem­bers in Delhi state assem­bly.

The Congress party has been to­tally wiped out and de­feated in last year’s elec­tions should act as eye­open­ers and bench­mark for the demo­cratic func­tion­ing of the gov­ern­ment in Delhi. More­over, cer­tain de­vel­op­ments in­clud­ing ar­rest of a min­is­ter of AAP gov­ern­ment in Delhi by the po­lice which is di­rectly un­der the con­trol of the union home min­istry are point­ers to­wards the un­ease with which the cen­tre is work­ing against the state gov­ern­ment. The Union gov­ern­ment, on its part, should be more ac­com­moda­tive of an elected gov­ern­ment’s le­git­i­mate func­tions and avoid tak­ing a nar­row le­gal in­ter­pre­ta­tion of is­sues when­ever a broader in­ter­pre­ta­tion is pos­si­ble and war­ranted. Hon­our­ing demo­cratic ver­dict of the peo­ple of Delhi and work­ing in a spirit of ac­com­mo­da­tion is the way for­ward not only for the democ­racy but also the fed­eral struc­ture in the coun­try which is at peril dur­ing the past two years or so. — Kash­mir Times

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.