In what could be an indication of further confrontation between the Delhi and central governments, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday that he would go “to any extent” to ensure the passage of the AAP government’s Jan Lokpal Bill.
AAP sources said the party was willing to “push the boundaries” to ensure the Bill is passed, including staging another protest. “We will go to the streets if need be and seek support of the people in our fight for the Lokpal,” said party leader Gopal Rai. The party also tried to rope in the support of social activist Anna Hazare as Kejriwal met him at Maharashtra Sadan late on Saturday night and handed him a draft of his government’s Jan Lokpal Bill.
Earlier in the day, speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange, Hazare disclosed that Kejriwal had asked him to unveil the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill, but he had not made a commitment yet. “I do not know what the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill has, I have not seen it. Yesterday, Arvind called saying he wants me to unveil the Bill. I said I don’t know where I will be on February 16, and I don’t know what is in the Bill. Once I see it, I will decide,” said Hazare.
The Congress, which backs the minority government from outside, has said it won’t support any Bill that is unconstitutional.
Last week, the AAP government even wrote to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), requesting the withdrawal of a rule that makes it mandatory to take the ministry’s approval to pass Bills in the Delhi Assembly. “The Delhi cabinet, after approving the Bill last week, also passed a resolution that the central government order was unconstitutional,” said a Delhi government official.
Confirming this, Kejriwal told PTI on Saturday, “We have written to the Home Minister to withdraw the (2002) order which directs the Delhi government to take approval of the ministry before passage of any Bill in the Assembly…That was only an order… which is completely against the Constitution. How can an order by the home ministry curtail the law-making powers of the Delhi Assembly? It is a very serious issue…I have taken oath of the Constitution and not the home ministry’s order. I will uphold the Constitution.”
According to Kejriwal, the Congress and BJP do not want a strong Jan Lokpal. “They (Congress) realise that if there is a strong Lokpal then many of them will get into trouble. For seven years, the BJP is in power in the MCD, and they may also get into trouble. If the Bill is passed, all the CWG cases will go to the Lokpal,” he said.
Kiran Bedi tried to establish her credentials as a secular, pro-women candidate.