Congress today indicated that while they agree in principle that the Delhi Center’s executive order on transfers and secondments undermines the Supreme Court, they would prefer to reach a joint decision on their stance and address the issue in Parliament Side with Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi party. KC Venugopal, the party’s organizational leader, tweeted tonight that the party would “consult its state entities and other like-minded parties on this.”
“The party believes in the rule of law while not condoning unnecessary confrontations, political witch hunts and campaigns based on lies against political opponents by any political party,” he said in the tweet.
The Congress party has not made a decision on the issue of the decree brought against the Supreme Court’s ruling on the powers of the Government of the Delhi NCT in relation to the appointment of civil servants. It will consult its state units and other like-minded parties on this.
— KC Venugopal (@kcvenugopalmp) May 22, 2023
Sources previously told NDTV that the party will support Delhi Prime Minister Arvind Kejriwal and oppose the center’s order in the monsoon session of Parliament, which begins in July. It would have been the first time the party had unsolicitedly offered its support to the AAP, with which it was at odds in Delhi.
On Sunday, senior Congressman Ajay Maken advised Mr Kejriwal to follow the “Sheila Dikshit model” and treat officials with respect, rather than “abusing” them.
However, sources said the central leaders were concerned about the BJP government’s “undermining of the Supreme Court” and its “efforts to undermine democracy”. The regulation, they said, puts the chief minister on a par with the chief secretary and gives him one out of three votes in a decision. This is also an undermining of an elected government, they said.
The regulation, passed late Friday night, overturns a recent Supreme Court ruling that said the elected government was the head of Delhi and makes the lieutenant governor the final arbiter on the matter.
Congress had previously welcomed the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that said in a democratic form of governance, the power of administration must rest with the elected arm. When officials stopped reporting to ministers or did not follow ministers’ instructions, the principle of collective responsibility would be compromised, said the bench of judges, headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud.
The ruling comes after an eight-year dispute between the center and Arvind Kejriwal’s government, after the center decided in 2015 to place the services department under the lieutenant governor’s control.
The center’s decree last week creates a National Capital Civil Services Authority tasked with dispatching and relocating bureaucrats working in Delhi. The Chief Minister, Chief Secretary and Principal Home Secretary are members who can vote on issues. The final arbiter is the Lieutenant Governor.
Mr Kejriwal has launched extensive outreach to opposition parties, starting with Bihar Prime Minister Nitish Kumar yesterday.
He is expected to meet Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar in Mumbai on May 24-25 to discuss the plan to block the regulation in the Rajya Sabha to discuss.
The bill on the issue is expected to arrive in Parliament during the monsoon session and the BJP is confident it will pass in both chambers. The current strength of Rajya Sabha is 238 and the majority mark is 119. Both the NDA and the opposition currently have 110 seats.
In the event of opposition from Congress and other parties, Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal and YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress will play a crucial role. Both have 9 seats each and prefer to keep the same distance from Congress and the BJP. Although they have provided issue-related support to the government in the past, it is not yet clear in which direction they will be leaning on this occasion.
Naveen Patnaik recently made it clear that his party will not be part of the opposition front. The BJD will go it alone in the 2024 parliamentary elections, he said, and “that was always the plan.”
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