- Derek O’Brien urged Rajya Sabha chairman to put off discussion on bill
- Trinamool wants Delhi Bill discussion postponed until after Bengal polls
- The planned law gives more powers to the Lieutenant Governor
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien said today that his party MPs had “air-dashed” to Delhi to stop the “bulldozing” in parliament of a Bill that aims at giving more power to the Centre over Delhi.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has been passed in the Lok Sabha and now has to clear the Rajya Sabha. The planned law gives more powers to the Lieutenant Governor, who represents the Centre in Delhi, compared to the city’s elected government.
Mr O’Brien, who has written to Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu asking him to put off discussion on the Bill until after polls in Bengal and other states, called it a “knife to the heart of democracy, the constitution and parliament” in a tweet.
“Two days to go for elections in five States. Yet Trinamool’s Rajya Sabha MPs air dash to Delhi to stop bulldozing of #GNCT Bill that disempowers an elected Delhi government. Another knife into the heart of democracy, the Constitution and Parliament. Worse still, Home Minister electioneering, not piloting Bill. Cruel irony,” tweeted the Trinamool Rajya Sabha member.
In his letter, Mr O’Brien had on Tuesday told the Rajya Sabha chairman that the bill was “an extremely important piece of legislation” that had a significant impact on all of India and it would be “gross miscarriage of justice” if it was rushed through.
He said it would not be possible for Trinamool members to attend parliament because of the Bengal election, which is starting Saturday.
“Each and every member of Parliament should be given the opportunity to express themselves when the House takes up the discussion on the Bill. Depriving members of that opportunity goes against the spirit of deliberative, responsible governance that Parliament embodies,” he said, adding that it would set a bad precedent on passing laws.
The Bill, which caused multiple disruptions in the Rajya Sabha yesterday, emphasizes that the “government” in Delhi means the “Lieutenant Governor”. It also says the Delhi government must take the opinion of the Lieutenant Governor before any executive action.
It is seen to be a blow to the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi, which accuses the centre of blocking its every plan and move and ruling Delhi by proxy since 2013, when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) first came to power in Delhi.
Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge, the Leader of Opposition in the upper house, said yesterday that the Bill was aimed at snatching the powers of the elected government.
“This is a very dangerous Bill. It will destroy democracy. You want to make the Lieutenant Governor the ‘government’ and the elected dispensation his servant,” Mr Kharge said.