An unusual support came for Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal from the opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. The support came amid the ongoing tussle between Kejriwal and Delhi Lieutenant-Governor (LG) Anil Baijal. Ever since coming to power in Delhi, Kejriwal has been claiming that the LG doesn’t let him exercise the power he deserves after becoming an elected chief minister. His government has even fought out this issue in the court, but without much success until now.
The latest flashpoint between Kejriwal and Delhi LG is over the home delivery of services scheme planned by the Delhi government. The LG has stalled the scheme. Not just with Baijal, Kejriwal also had an acrimonious relationship with ex-LG Najeeb Jung. On many occasions, Delhi government had called him an agent of the Centre deliberately not letting the AAP government carry out governance tasks in Delhi.
On Thursday, voices in support of Kejriwal came in the Rajya Sabha from leaders of four parties, who accused the Centre of treating the Delhi CM as a “Chaprasi (peon). Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal told the Rajya Sabha that the Delhi government doesn’t have any power and the LG treats the CM as a “Chaprasi”. Agarwal also sought more powers for Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party government. Later, leaders from Mamata Banerjee’s TMC, CPI and CPM also echoed the concerns raised by Agarwal.
Agarwal’s support for Kejriwal came during the debate on regularising unauthorised colonies in the national capital. From the Centre’s side, Union minister Vijay Goel alleged that the Delhi government was failing to act against illegal colonies. He even urged the Centre to dismiss the Delhi government.
However, Agarwal countered Goel, saying the BJP-ruled three municipal corporations of Delhi have the mandate to check unauthorised constructions.
As many leaders demanded an end to the tussle between LG and the CM, Rajya Sabha deputy chairman PJ Kurien asked Union Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri to take some steps in this regard. Puri promised he would try to negotiate peace between LG and the CM. However, he pointed out that it won’t be an easy task.
Meanwhile, in another debate, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan alleged in the Rajya Sabha that the Delhi government was not doing much to tackle pollution in Delhi. “There are certain critical issues like water sprinkling to curtail air pollution. Likewise, landfill sites are not being maintained properly,” Vardhan said, adding Delhi government was not following guidelines to manage solid waste and dust mitigation.