Mamata Banerjee raises concerns over Centre's actions in meeting with Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann
Kolkata, May 23: In a significant development, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann met with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, highlighting the need for opposition unity in light of recent events in Delhi.
The meeting aimed to address the issue of the Centre's bill to convert the Ordinance on Delhi bureaucrats' services, emphasizing that similar actions could be taken against other opposition-ruled states in the future. Kejriwal stressed that the outcome of this bill in Rajya Sabha would be a crucial milestone leading up to the 2024 general elections.
During the briefing after the meeting, Mamata Banerjee, known for her staunch criticism of the Centre, voiced her concerns regarding the alleged "atrocities" being committed on opposition-ruled states. She asserted that only the Supreme Court could protect the country from such actions.
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However, she also expressed apprehension about the subversion of the Supreme Court's rulings, claiming that the Central government intended to rule all states through ordinances, governors, and other means, disregarding the court's decisions.
Banerjee criticised the BJP, stating that they seemed to treat opposition-ruled states as their "bonded labor" or servants. She raised concerns that the government aimed to undermine the constitution and potentially change the country's name to that of the ruling party. Banerjee labeled the current government as "a government of the bulldozer, by the bulldozer, for the bulldozer," suggesting a forceful and undemocratic approach by the ruling party.
Bhagwant Mann also expressed his agreement, referring to the BJP as a threat to the Constitution. He questioned the purpose of elections if the country was to be governed by 30 Governors and a Prime Minister and criticised the significance of Lieutenant Governors when millions of people participate in elections.
The recent Ordinance, which overrides the Supreme Court's order regarding the control of bureaucrats in Delhi, was passed on Friday evening. It establishes a National Capital Civil Services Authority responsible for the postings and transfers of bureaucrats in Delhi, with members such as the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary, and Principal Home Secretary having voting rights on issues. The Lieutenant Governor serves as the final arbiter.
The dispute between the Centre and the Arvind Kejriwal government has lasted for eight years, originating from the Centre's decision in 2015 to bring the Services department under the control of the Lieutenant Governor. Kejriwal highlighted that the Centre introduced the Ordinance while the Supreme Court was on vacation, suggesting a strategic timing to avoid an immediate stay on its implementation.
Kejriwal has been actively engaging with various Chief Ministers to discuss the plan to block the Ordinance in Rajya Sabha. Meetings with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and upcoming meetings with Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray and NCP Chief Sharad Pawar are part of his efforts to rally opposition against the bill.
With 12 MPs in the Rajya Sabha, the Trinamool Congress, along with the NCP's four MPs and Shiv Sena (UBT)'s three members, could play a significant role in opposing the bill. The monsoon session of Parliament, starting in July, is expected to witness the introduction of the bill, with the BJP confident of its passage in both houses. The current composition of Rajya Sabha, with a majority mark of 119 out of 238 seats, sees the NDA and the opposition holding 110 seats each, with the Congress yet to determine its stance on the bill.
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- With inputs from agencies