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AAP Vs BJP: Is Centre creating hurdles for the functioning of Delhi government?

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By Prachi Mishra

The recent events related to the national capital have highlighted the nebulous relationship of Delhi government with the Central government.

The tension between the Centre and the state ensued with the lengthy debate between Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung over the appointment of bureaucrats. Since then, several other issues have also instigated the sparks between the Centre and the state. Let’s look at some of these issues which have questioned the authority of the Central government in its involvement with the state government’s affairs.

Arvind Kejriwal versus Najeeb Jung

Senior bureaucrat Shakuntala Gamlin’s appointment as acting chief secretary for Delhi triggered a full-blown war between the AAP and LG Najeeb Jung. Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that the Lieutenant Governor was trying to take over the administration.

Later, Kejriwal took this row to the Prime Minister, appealing to him to allow the Delhi government function independently. He even accused the Centre of trying to run the Delhi administration through Lt. Governor.

“In Delhi, Central government is trying to run government unconstitutionally through the Lt Governor. Let Delhi government function independently,” Kejriwal was reported as saying.

However despite several pleas, later the Central Government issued a notification giving Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor, Najeeb Jung, the final say in posting and transfer of Delhi government bureaucrats.

According to the notice, the Lieutenant Governor was not bound to consult Delhi’s council of ministers. In a released statement, the Centre said, “The Lieutenant Governor, “may, in his discretion, obtain the views of the Chief Minister… wherever he deems it appropriate”.

Debate over Delhi’s heritage status

Another issue regarding national capital’s chance to become the first ‘world heritage city’ in India triggered one more feud between the Centre and the State.

The Centre withdrew the capital’s nomination from UNESCO”s list of ‘World Heritage City’ fearing that heritage tag may hamper development in the city.

“The heritage tag will slower the development program in the national capital as it imposes lots of restrictions in bulldozing the ancient buildings,” a minister of Central Government was reported as saying.

Reportedly the Delhi government has already spent Rs 2 crores for the nomination. The officials refused to believe the reason given by the Centre as good enough.

“I have written to the central government asking them to reconsider their decision. It has taken a lot of time and effort to reach this far, and the heritage tag would be a matter of great pride. The nominated zones are a very small area. This will not impact development,” said Delhi Tourism minister Jitender Tomar.

Authority to Delhi Police to file cases; reducing AAP govt’s role

At the latest, the Centre has proposed to give Delhi Police Commissioner the authority to file an appeal in court cases and appoint public prosecutors in cases handled by the Delhi Police. This decision would ultimately reduce the power of the Delhi government.

Currently, the Delhi Police seek the consultation of the Delhi government’s home department before filing an appeal or appointing a prosecutor.

Delhi police have also prompted the Centre to make Lieutenant-Governor as the final authority to issue the order on behalf of Ministry of Home Affairs.

“As far as law and order in Delhi is concerned, it is not with the Delhi government, therefore for other matters, the state government officials have no interest which leads to delays. It also means several rounds of persuasions for us to get a file cleared from the Delhi Secretariat. By making this amendment, we can reduce one layer of decision making and expedite the whole process of delivering justice,” an official was reported as saying by ET.

Public Opinion:

Manoj Khushwaha, a software engineer told NewsGram, “If the state government is wrong, then the Centre should definitely interfere with its affairs”.

Shalini Kaushik, a DU student had a different opinion. She told NewsGram, “I think India should not be called as the union of states anymore. India as the union of pseudo- states would be more appropriate seeing the Centre’s perpetual involvement with the state’s affairs”.

NewsGram contacted the BJP for their opinion on the issue, however till the time of publishing this article they maintained their silence.

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