Minister of State Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, introduced the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, in Lok Sabha on Friday, 25 March, even as the Opposition claimed that the move was beyond the legislative competence of the Parliament.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, welcomed the introduction of the bill in the Lok Sabha and said it would strengthen the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
The Union Cabinet had approved 'The Delhi Municipal Corporation Amendment Act 2022' on Tuesday, 22 March, which would create a unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi by merging the three existing municipal corporations.
Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Congress, and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) opposed the introduction of the bill.
BJP Fears Defeat: AAP, Congress
Senior Aam Aadmi Party leader said the introduction of the bill in the Lok Sabha was a tactic by the BJP to delay the polls as it feared defeat.
"You (BJP) could have won 15-20 seats had the elections taken place now. But now, with the delay in elections, you will be restricted to single digits, just like the Delhi Assembly elections. If this does not happen, we will leave politics," Atishi said during the ongoing session of the Delhi Legislative Assembly.
Delhi Congress president Chaudhary Anil Kumar, too, shared a similar sentiment.
"This move is a conspiracy hatched by the BJP to postpone their defeat in the civic polls. It is nowhere mentioned in the draft bill how the MCD's financial situation will be improved," he said.
Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta, however, said the bill would strengthen the MCD.
"This move will strengthen the MCD and improve its services like sanitation, health, and education, among others. The Delhi government has been troubling civic bodies by not giving them funds. They (the AAP government) were weakening the MCD. The unification will help MCD employees and ensure timely disbursement of salaries and arrears," he said.
Union Minister Pralhad Joshi also commented on Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2022 and AAP's objection, saying:
"AAP says things like this. They won one more state but lost 100 percent deposit everywhere else. They're habitual liars. Bill has been brought to remove discrepancies due to trifurcation of MCD," Joshi said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had on Thursday said that the nation wouldn't tolerate the drama the BJP was doing.
"They say that they're (BJP) the largest party in the world. We're (AAP) the smallest. Still, they got scared! Largest party got scared of the smallest. Contest polls if you have courage."
On Wednesday, 23 March, Kejriwal had said that the AAP would quit politics if the BJP allowed the polls to be conducted on time and still won them.
Earlier, the central government had deferred announcing the dates for Delhi's three civic body polls, earlier scheduled for Wednesday, 9 March.
While the State Election Commission (SEC) had been preparing to conduct the municipal elections by way of multiple notices indicating that the same would be conducted in April 2022, on 9 March – the day it was to announce the dates for Delhi's three civic body polls – it cited an unofficial communication from Lt Governor Anil Baijal as the reason behind the deferment.
Reportedly, Baijal had conveyed to the SEC that the Centre was intending to pass legislation to merge the three municipal corporations of Delhi.
Delhi State Election Commissioner SK Srivastava said that the Centre wants to reorganise and unify the Delhi municipal corporations.
Meanwhile, the postponement was termed as "murder of democracy" by AAP leader Manish Sisodia, while Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the election commission of buckling under Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) pressure.
On Thursday, 17 March, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) moved the Supreme Court, seeking directions to the SEC to conduct municipal elections without any interference from the Centre.
The BJP has dominated the municipal polls in Delhi for the past 15 years, with the ruling AAP is now looking to dislodge them.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI.)