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Mamata Banerjee Extends Support to Kejriwal in 'Fight' Against Ordinance on Delhi Services

Defeating the Bill to convert the ordinance into law in the Rajya Sabha will be a "semi-final before the 2024 elections", the West Bengal chief minister said.
Arvind Kejriwal, Mamata Banerjee and Bhagwant Singh Mann. Photo: Screengrab via YouTube/Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday, May 23, said that she would support her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal’s efforts to fight against the Union government’s ordinance to retake control of appointments and transfers of bureaucrats working for the NCT government.

Banerjee met Kejriwal and Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Singh Mann, both from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), in Kolkata. According to the news agency PTI, the West Bengal chief minister said that the forthcoming vote in Rajya Sabha to convert the ordinance on control of services in Delhi into law, will be a “semi-final before the 2024 elections”.

Any ordinance must be approved by parliament within six months of its introduction. While the BJP has an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, it needs the support of parties outside the NDA to get a Bill passed in the upper house.

Kejriwal is on a nationwide tour to garner support against the ordinance, which was promulgated to invalidate a Supreme Court ruling giving control over bureaucrats to the Delhi government. AAP leaders Raghav Chadha, Sanjay Singh and Atishi also participated in the meeting.

According to Indian Express, Banerjee said the Trinamool Congress (TMC) will oppose the ordinance and appealed to other parties to also oppose it. “This is a chance to unite and send a big message that if we can defeat the BJP in the Rajya Sabha, this ordinance can also go,” she said. “If the Centre can pass such an ordinance, it can break any state today, tomorrow. They are in majority but they cannot do this. There are some systems.”

Banerjee said the BJP wants to “bulldoze the constitution”. According to IE, she said, “We fear that they might change the Constitution, they might even change the name of the country and name it after the party… They don’t even respect the Supreme Court verdicts.”

Kejriwal said the BJP has “made a mockery of democracy” because where it cannot form a government “it buys MLAs, uses CBI, ED to try to break the government”and uses “governors to disturb non-BJP governments such as Bengal and Punjab.”

On Tuesday morning, Kejriwal tweeted, “Today, I begin my journey across the country for the rights of the people of Delhi. The Supreme Court passed the order [giving Delhi control over bureaucrats] after years and did justice to the people of Delhi, gave them their rights. The central government took away all those rights by bringing an ordinance. When this law will come in the Rajya Sabha, it should not be allowed to pass under any circumstances. Will meet presidents of all political parties and seek their support.”

He added: “This fight is not only for the people of Delhi. This fight is a fight to save Indian democracy, a fight to save the constitution given by Baba Sahib, a fight to save the judiciary. This fight is a fight to save the country. I expect everyone’s support in this.”

The bone of contention between the AAP government in Delhi and the Union government is the ordinance issued on May 19 to establish the National Capital Service Authority to make recommendations to the Delhi Lieutenant Governor regarding matters concerning transfer posting, vigilance and other incidental matters.

The Supreme Court had on May 11 said the elected Delhi government has power over all administrative services except those pertaining to police, public order and land. Apart from these three areas, the court said the LG is bound by decisions taken by the Delhi assembly.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has extended his support to AAP in the fight against the ordinance. According to PTI, Kejriwal is likely to meet Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray and NCP leader Sharad Pawar on Wednesday in Mumbai.

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