The Congress today indicated that while it agrees in principle that the Center’s executive order on transfers and appointments in Delhi undermines the Supreme Court, it would prefer to take a collective decision on its position on siding with Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party in Parliament. KC Venugopal, the party’s organizational officer, tweeted this evening that the party would “consult with its government units and other like-minded parties on the same issue”.
“The party believes in the rule of law and at the same time does not condone unnecessary confrontation, political stalking and campaigns based on lies against political opponents by any political party,” he said in a tweet.
The Congress party has not taken any decision on the issue of the order against the Supreme Court ruling on the powers of the NCT government in Delhi with regard to the appointment of officers. It will consult with its government units and other like-minded parties on the same issue.
– KC Venugopal (@kcvenugopalmp) May 22, 2023
Sources earlier told NDTV that the party will support Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and oppose the Center’s executive order in the monsoon session of Parliament, which begins in July. This was the first time the party had given unwanted support to the AAP, with which it had been at odds in Delhi.
On Sunday, senior Congress leader Ajay McCain advised Mr Kejriwal to follow the “Sheila Dikshit model” of treating officers with respect, rather than “mistreating” them.
However, the sources said that the center leaders were concerned about the BJP government’s “undermining of the Supreme Court” and its “efforts to undermine democracy”. They said the decree puts the prime minister on par with the chief secretary, giving him one of three votes in the decision. They said this also undermines an elected government.
The decree, which was passed late on Friday night, rescinds a recent Supreme Court order – which said the elected government is the president of Delhi – and makes the deputy governor the final arbiter on the issue.
Congress had earlier welcomed the landmark ruling of the Supreme Court, which said that in a democratic form of government, the power of administration should rest with the elected arm. If officers stop informing ministers or do not abide by their directives, the principle of collective responsibility is affected, said the council, which is chaired by Chief Justice of India D. Y. Chandrachod.
The ruling came after an eight-year struggle between the Center and Arvind Kejriwal’s government, following the Centre’s decision to place the Services Department under the control of the Deputy Governor in 2015.
The Center Decree last week created the Civil Service Authority in the national capital, which is charged with appointments and transfers of bureaucrats working in Delhi. The Prime Minister, Secretary General and Principal Home Secretary will be members who can vote on issues. The final arbitrator is the Lieutenant Governor.
Mr Kejriwal has started a lot of outreach to opposition parties, starting with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar yesterday.
He is expected to meet Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray and NCP President Sharad Pawar on May 24-25 in Mumbai to discuss the Rajya Sabha law prevention plan.
The bill on this issue is expected to reach Parliament in the monsoon session and the BJP is confident that it will pass in both Houses. The current strength of the Rajya Sabha is 238 and the majority score is 119. Both the NDA and the opposition currently have 110 seats.
In case Congress and other parties oppose, Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal and YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress will play a crucial role. Both have 9 seats and prefer to stay equidistant from the Congress and the BJP. While they have given issue-based support to the government in the past, it is not yet clear which way they will lean on this occasion.
Recently, Naveen Patnaik made it clear that his party will not be part of the opposition front. He said the BJD would go it alone in the 2024 general election and “that’s always been the plan”.