RS Passes NCT Bill, Kejriwal Says ‘Sad Day for Indian Democracy’
This comes two days after the NCT Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha.
The Centre’s controversial Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, 24 March, even as the Opposition staged a walkout over the Bill.
Reacting to the development, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal called it a “sad day for Indian democracy”.
The Lok Sabha had passed the Bill on 22 March, amid much controversy.
The Bill had been taken up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday amid uproar by Opposition parties, which had stormed into the well of the house.
Causing repeated disruptions in the proceedings of the House on Wednesday, the heated discussion over the Bill had led to the Rajya Sabha being adjourned multiple times.
Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh opposed the introduction of the Bill and said, “I seek justice for the 2 crore people of Delhi, for 130 crore Indians, to seek justice from all members to save Constitution.[sic.] I tell all members, we'll be here only if Constitution is there,” ANI reported. However, the Chair rejected his objections, according to PTI.
The Bill moved by the Centre on 15 March proposes that the government in the national capital territory of Delhi means the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. It gives discretionary powers to the L-G even in matters where the Legislative Assembly of Delhi is empowered to make laws.
The proposed legislation also seeks to ensure that the Lieutenant Governor is necessarily granted an opportunity to give their opinion before any decision taken by the Council of Ministers or the Delhi Cabinet is implemented.
Parties Demand Bill be Sent to Select Committee, Stage Walkout
Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge demanded that the newly introduced Bill, which enhances the powers of the Lieutenant Governor in the national capital, to be sent to Select Committee.
The Congress staged a walkout even as voting over the Bill was underway, reported ANI.
Samajwadi Party MP Vishambhar Prasad Nishad also demanded the Bill to be sent to the Select Committee, calling it “absolutely anti-democracy and anti-Constitution”, reported ANI.
“We oppose this Bill and stage a walkout,” he said.
Biju Janata Dal MP Prasanna Acharya also said that the party had decided not to become a party to passing of this Bill as it “undermines the authority and power of an elected government of an elected Assembly.”
“Without lowering the dignity of the House, we are peacefully staging a walkout,” he said, according to ANI.
The YSRCP also staged a walkout from Rajya Sabha amid the heated discussion on Wednesday.done
Meanwhile, BJP’s Minister of State of Home Affairs Kishan Reddy defended the Bill saying, “We're making amendments to the Act brought in by the Congress in 1991. These are not new. We are bringing these amendments to ensure that Delhi Government functions properly.”
What the Opposition Had Said
“Central government is liable to bring a Constitutional Amendment Bill in House before making any amendment to constitution. I gave a notice in Rajya Sabha yesterday that this (GNCTD Amendment) Bill is unconstitutional and mustn’t be allowed to be presented in House,” Singh had said.
Singh added, “They (BJP) have been losing for 23 years & now want to remove a govt (AAP) that has consistently worked for people of Delhi & has also been winning by majority. All political parties are opposing this Bill because this can happen to anyone tomorrow.”
TMC MP Derek O’Brien tweeted on Wednesday saying that the new Bill is “another knife in the heart of democracy.”
‘Snatches Democratic Rights’
Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday said the Bill could snatch the democratic rights of the elected government.
“They should withdraw it and restore the Delhi government’s power. Today it’s AAP, tomorrow it’ll be someone else. They can’t snatch democratic rights of elected government and Union Territories.”Kharge said, speaking to ANI.
The Congress had issued a whip to its MPs in Rajya Sabha and asked them to support the party's stance on the Bill. Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has asked all Opposition parties to oppose the Bill in Rajya Sabha.
Amid all the chaos on Tuesday, the Rajya Sabha had decided that it will sit from 10 am on Wednesday to discuss the Bill and that there will be no Zero Hour or Question Hour in the House, reported ANI.
According to ANI, AAP Rajya Sabha MPs later met Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal over the discussion that took place in the House on Tuesday. Kejriwal had tweeted on Monday that the passing of the Bill is an insult to the people of Delhi.
(With inputs from ANI)
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