Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is seeking to unite the opposition to defeat the Center’s bill on control of Delhi bureaucrats in the Rajya Sabha, declared today that Delhi has the support of Nationalist Congress chief Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray.
Speaking from Mumbai, where he met Uddhav Thackeray yesterday, Kejriwal said the BJP’s game plan is creating “a very dangerous situation for the country.” “This is not an opposition issue, it is a country issue,” he said.
Mr. Kejriwal has already met his Bengal counterpart, Mamata Banerjee, and Bihar’s Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar. However, there is much hope in the meeting with Sharad Pawar, one of the most respected political leaders and veterans of the opposition camp. There is speculation that Mr. Pawar’s help might be needed to get Congress on board with the Rajya Sabha strategy.
“Sharad Pawar, sir, is one of the most important leaders in the country today. I ask Mr. Pawar, while he supports us himself, he helps us to get the support of other parties in the country,” Kejriwal said in a joint press conference where Mr. Pawar and NCP leaders shared the stage.
“I think Arvind should get support by talking to non-BJP parties, be it the Congress or the BJD,” said Sharad Pawar. “This is not the time for discussions. Democracy must be saved… I have completed 56 years in politics. The advantage of this is that if you go anywhere in the country, everyone is familiar,” Pawar added.
“After I leave tomorrow, I will look for a date with Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi,” Kejriwal replied.
Congress has yet to express its position on the matter and said it would do so only after consulting with its regional leaders, many of whom are against the idea of helping regional parties. The Delhi unit of Congress is at odds with Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, and its top leader, Ajay Maken, has been singled out in his criticism of AAP.
Congressional involvement is essential if the AAP is to win the Rajya Sabha battle. The party has 31 deputies in the upper house. The Trinamool Congress has 12 MPs, NCP has four, Shiv Sena (UBT) has three members and AAP has 10 MPs.
The bill on the issue is expected to be introduced in parliament in the monsoon session and the BJP is confident it will pass both houses.
The NDA currently has 110 seats, close to the majority mark of 119. The opposition also has 110, which means that if all parties come together, the role of non-aligned parties like Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal and the Andhra Pradesh ruling YSR Congress will be crucial.
The Center Ordinance or executive order passed last week overturns a recent Supreme Court order, which said the elected government is the boss of Delhi in terms of controlling bureaucrats.
It creates a National Capital Civil Services Authority which handles the assignments and transfers of bureaucrats serving Delhi. The Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary and the Chief Home Minister shall be voting members. The final arbitrator is the Lieutenant Governor.
The ruling came after an eight-year dispute between the Center and the government of Arvind Kejriwal, following the Center’s decision to place the Services department under the control of the Lieutenant Governor in 2015.