On Thursday, the Lok Sabha granted approval to a bill that empowers the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) of Delhi with authority over Group A services. Union Minister Amit Shah commented that the opposition parties aligned under the Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) opposed the bill not out of concern for democracy, the nation, or its citizens, but solely to protect their alliance.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was passed through a voice vote despite an opposition walkout.
Amit Shah criticized the opposition’s dual stance, emphasizing that they prioritize their alliance over bills intended for public welfare. He referenced nine bills that were passed without discussion due to opposition protests.
Shah accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of opposing the Delhi Bill to hide corruption and predicted a breakup of the alliance once the bill is enacted.
The parliamentary debate had evident political undertones, with Shah asserting that regardless of pre-election alliances, the Narendra Modi government would secure a majority in the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
Responding sharply, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader Dayanidhi Maran asserted the strength of the INDIA alliance and hinted at a different outcome in 2024.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury argued that the bill violated a Supreme Court order from May 11, which granted the Delhi Assembly decision-making power regarding civil services in Delhi. He criticized the bill for granting bureaucrats the authority to overrule an elected Chief Minister.
After over four hours of debate, the Lok Sabha passed the bill, leading to the suspension of the lone AAP member from Punjab, Sushil Kumar Rinku, for six days of the Monsoon session for disrespectful behavior during the bill’s introduction.
During the debate, Home Minister Amit Shah claimed that confrontations between the BJP, Congress, and the National Capital had not occurred since 1993. He attributed problems to the 2015 government’s alleged focus on confrontation rather than governance.
Shah invoked India’s historical figures like Jawaharlal Nehru, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Sardar Patel, C. Rajagopalchari, and Rajendra Prasad, highlighting their opposition to full statehood for Delhi. He contended that the Kejriwal government’s resistance to the Delhi services Bill aimed to gain control over the vigilance department and scrutinize various policies and expenditures.
Congress member Shashi Tharoor criticized the bill as an example of “coercive federalism,” suggesting that the Centre could potentially override elected Assemblies in other states.
Minister of State for External Affairs and Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi argued that India’s quasi-federal structure gives precedence to the Centre. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi warned that the bill might set a precedent for converting other cities into Union Territories.
Supporting the bill, YSRCP MP P.V. Midhun Reddy described it as unique, hoping it wouldn’t be replicated for other states. Biju Janata Dal member Pinaki Misra supported the bill, noting its inapplicability to “full States” like Odisha, Rajasthan, and West Bengal due to Delhi’s distinct status.
The Home Minister reaffirmed his willingness to address questions and engage in debates regarding the Manipur situation.