In a huge setback to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 giving primacy to Delhi”s Lieutenant Governor (L-G) over the elected government. The Bill was already passed in the Lok Sabha, where the BJP enjoys an absolute majority.
However, on Wednesday, the Upper House of the Indian Parliament witnessed heated debates and several walkouts amidst the passage of the Bill. Those staging walkout included lawmakers from the BJD, SP, Congress and the YSR-Congress.
The Bill makes it clear that the ‘government’ in Delhi means the ‘Lieutenant Governor’ and the elected government will have to seek the LG’s approval before taking any policy decisions.
Even though the Bill was passed by a voice vote, but when a division was sought by the opposition, 83 members were in favour while 45 opposed the bill during the voting.
During the debate, several opposition parties demanded that the Bill be sent to a parliamentary select committee for thorough scrutiny. Responding to the opposition parties’ apprehensions, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy said that the amendments in the Act would create a sound government mechanism in the NCT of Delhi.
According to news agency PTI, he said that it will improve equity and inclusiveness, adding that the amendment will also lead to transparency and clarity in governance and enhance public accountability.
Earlier, Kejriwal had to face public ridicule when he took to Twitter to register his outrage over the passage of the Bill in Lok Sabha. Many journalists and activists were quick to remind him about his doublespeak since his party had controversially voted in favour of the downgrading of Jammu and Kashmir from a full state to a union territory. Although the AAP desperately clarified that it had merely voted in favour of the abrogation of Article 370, Janta Ka Reporter shared the speech of Sushil Gupta, AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP, conclusively establishing how Kejriwal’s party had also supported the bifurcation of of Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August 2019.