As part of a nationwide tour to drum up support for his fight against the Central Ordinance to control appointments and transfer of bureaucrats in the city-state, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal along with his party’s CM for Punjab, Bhagwant Mann, met former Maharashtra CM and Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray and MP Sanjay Raut in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Stating that the saffron party neither has any respect for democracy nor the Supreme Court, Kejriwal, during a joint press conference with Uddhav Thackeray, said, “By bringing in Delhi Ordinance the BJP has sent across a clear message that they will not be abide by the Supreme Court’s verdict. They neither believe in democracy nor the apex court.”

Kejriwal, who is on a two-day visit, will also be meeting Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) head Sharad Pawar on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Kejriwal and Mann met their West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata. They were accompanied by AAP leaders Raghav Chadha and Atishi Singh.

The AAP leaders held an hour-long meeting with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief at the state secretariat (Nabanna).

After the meeting, Kejriwal told media persons that a forthcoming vote in the Rajya Sabha on a bill to convert the central ordinance into law will be a ‘semi-final’ before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Mamata Banerjee told reporters that the TMC supports the AAP in the fight against the Central ordinance, adding that it is a grand opportunity to defeat the saffron party ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls in the Rajya Sabha as all the opposition parties are united on the issue of the ordinance.

“We fear the Central government might change the Constitution, they might change the name of the country as well. They don’t even respect the Supreme Court judgments,” Banerjee said.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, Kejriwal had tweeted, “Today, I am starting my journey around the country for the rights of the people of Delhi. The Supreme Court had passed a judgment giving justice to the people of Delhi. The Center snatched away those rights by bringing the ordinance.”

“When this comes up in the Rajya Sabha, it has to be ensured that it has not passed. I will meet the leaders of all political parties and ask for support,” he added.

The AAP has already sought support of all non-BJP parties saying this is a “time for agni pariksha” for opposition parties, and that they should come together if they want to save the country’s democracy and Constitution.

Supreme Court verdict

A Constitution Bench led by the Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on May 11 held that the Delhi government has ‘legislative and executive power over services’ in the national capital.

In other words, the Delhi government can make laws and administer civil services in the national capital.

The apex court also clarified that the LG does not have sweeping executive powers over the national capital, and the center should be mindful of the unique “asymmetric federal model” of governance adopted for Delhi.

The court limited the role of the LG, an arm of the Centre, over bureaucrats in the capital to three specific areas — public order, police and land.

What is the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023?

However, on May 19, the Center turned the tables on the judgment, with the President promulgating the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023 that aims to give the LG of Delhi more power over the administration of services and also nullify the Supreme Courts verdict.

According to the ordinance, the National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCCA) will be the new statutory body responsible for making recommendations to the Lieutenant Governor (LG) regarding transfer posts, vigilance, and also matters of disciplinary proceedings against them.

The NCCSA comprises the Chief Minister of Delhi, the Chief Secretary and the Principal Secretary of the Home department.

Decisions taken by the NCCSA will be on the basis of a majority vote, which means that the elected Chief Minister can be overruled by the two senior bureaucrats.

If a difference of opinion remains, the final decision will be taken by the LG, effectively reversing the Supreme Court’s verdict.

Political observers say that it violates the principle of federalism and is undemocratic as it gives the LG more power than the elected government of Delhi.

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