A controversial bill proposing to give more powers to Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor – the centre’s representative – compared to the city’s elected government, was cleared by President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday, officially becoming law. The Union Home Ministry will now declare when it will come into effect.
On Wednesday, the bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha amid a walkout by the Congress and several other opposition parties including Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party.
The bill is seen as a huge setback to Arvind Kejriwal’s government, which has been sparring with the Lieutenant Governor since it came to power for the first time in the national capital in 2013.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill makes it clear that the term “government” in Delhi means the Lieutenant Governor and his opinion has to be taken before the Delhi government takes any executive action.
The bill was passed in parliament after two days of chaos in the Upper House, where opposition MPs repeatedly said it will destroy democracy. The opposition has been demanding that the bill be sent to a Select Committee.
The legislation was passed in Rajya Sabha by a voice vote. The opposition had sought a division when the government moved the bill for consideration. During voting, 83 members were in favour while 45 opposed the bill. Just before the passage of the bill, the Congress too walked out.
The AAP government in Delhi has regularly accused the BJP of trying to rule Delhi by proxy through the Lieutenant-Governor.
Most opposition parties, including the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, Shiv Sena, the ruling YSR Congress of Andhra Pradesh, and the Akali Dal had opposed the bill. The YSR Congress had walked out in the middle of the debate.
AAP said the bill will not be accepted by the people and there will be protests, much like the farmers’ protests. It also said one of the key reasons the bill was brought was Mr Kejriwal’s support for the protesting farmers.