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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.

Next Story

Are There Enough Jobs In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Led India?

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

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Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. Pixabay

For people streaming in from rural areas around New Delhi, the first stop is a collection of busy city intersections where contractors select daily wage labor from the crowds of young and old waiting every morning to get work.

Many standing at these intersections say they get work for barely half the month. “I have the ability to work hard. I never turn down any work. But I would prefer to get a cleaner, permanent job,” says 29-year-old Tek Chand. “The problem is one day I have money to buy rations, the next day I don’t.” Like millions of others, he migrated from his village three years ago to seek work and a better life in the city.

FILE - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019. VOA
As India prepares for general elections on April 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being attacked by opposition parties for failing to make good on a promise he made in 2014 to create millions of jobs for India’s huge young population. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party rebuts that criticism and says India is generating new opportunities as it becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies.

Job creation is a massive challenge for a nation with one of the world’s youngest populations — half the country’s 1.3 billion people are under the age of 25.

Recent data shows that joblessness has soared to record high levels. Opposition parties have made joblessness one of their principal election planks and have accused the prime minister of failing the estimated 8 to 10 million young people who enter the workforce every year.

The independent Mumbai-based Center for Monitoring Indian Economy estimates that unemployment reached 7.2 percent last month and that 11 million jobs were lost in 2018. With a working population of 500 million, that translates into more than 30 million people waiting for jobs. An unpublished official survey that showed unemployment at a 45-year-high has also been widely quoted by Indian media.

India's main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019.
India’s main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019. VOA

On the campaign trail, the head of the main opposition Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi, who is seen as Modi’s principal challenger, talks repeatedly about a “jobs crisis.”

“Our government is refusing to accept that we have a massive crisis and potential disaster in front of us,” Gandhi told a group of university students in New Delhi recently, many who will be first time voters.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. It points to a recent industry report that jobs have been created in the medium and small sectors.

The BJP says millions of people have found work in the transport and infrastructure sectors or as delivery boys in booming online businesses as India becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies. They point out that the issue is not jobs but livelihoods, and point to millions of people who are not counted in job data.

They are self-employed people like cab owner Chain Pal Singh. As the app based taxi business boomed, Singh’s friend, who operated a cab, persuaded him to quit his job and take out a loan to buy a car. His decision has paid off — in four years he has earned enough money to invest in two more cabs.

Singh says he is much better off than when he held a job. “I used to earn about $225 dollars a month. Now in some months I can earn almost double that amount. Its beneficial for me.”

Following defeats in key state elections in December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told parliament last month, “This truth has to be acknowledged. The unorganized sector has 80 to 85 percent of the employment.” He pointed to millions of commercial vehicles sold in recent years and questioned if they had not generated jobs for drivers.

Economists admit India’s large informal sector has made it difficult to calculate employment, but they say joblessness or underemployment remains the country’s biggest challenge. While scarcity of jobs is not a new problem, two disruptive economic steps in the last two years exacerbated the problem.

In 2016 a sweeping currency ban meant to tackle the problem of illegal cash, dried up jobs as it created huge currency shortages, particularly in small businesses and in the countryside. A poorly-implemented tax reform known as the Goods and Services Tax a few months later was another blow to businesses.

Meanwhile, Modi’s “Made in India” campaign, which aimed at making India a manufacturing hub like China, has made a slow start and sluggish labor-intensive sectors cannot cater to growing numbers of job seekers.

“We can’t keep patting ourselves on the back that we are the fastest growing economy specially if all these other indicators are not growing at a rate that will absorb the growing labor force,” says Santosh Mehrotra, a human development economist at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

Also Read: The Mental Health ‘Epidemic’: About Six in Ten Teen Say, They Feel A Lot Of Pressure To Get Good Grades

He points out that exports, another sector that created a number of jobs has also not been performing well.

As the campaign heats up, the opposition will try to keep the spotlight on jobs, or lack of them, even as the BJP tries to focus on national security following a recent confrontation with Pakistan. The final verdict on whether to give Prime Minister Modi a second term in office will be delivered by millions of voters when they cast their ballots. (VOA)