Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel said the BJP-led Centre has “attempted to murder the Constitution” by curtailing the powers of the Delhi Assembly through the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021. He was speaking during the two-day monsoon session of the assembly which began on Thursday.
“Pained” by the passage of the law in Parliament, and repeated obstructions by BJP MLAs during question hour, Goel asserted that he will only allot 20 minutes to opposition legislators out of the six hours of House proceedings from now.
Soon after the members gathered, the BJP MLAs tried to raise issues such as lapses in the annual maintenance contract of proposed 1,000 low-floor Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses, waterlogging, and shortage of teachers in schools.
Goel turned down the demand of the BJP MLAs, and requested them to allow question hour to continue without disruptions. Twenty minutes after the session began at 11 am, he ordered that BJP MLA Anil Bajpai be marshalled out. Later, the other three BJP MLAs were also marshalled out.
At one point, Goel stood up and said, “This is the first session after the Centre snatched away the powers of the House committees of the Delhi Assembly. I was extremely pained by the Centre’s move and considered giving up my membership of the House. The Centre is trying to murder the Constitution.”
The amended GNCTD Act, which was passed in March, bars the Assembly or its committees from making rules to take up matters concerning day-to-day administration, or to conduct inquiries in relation to administrative decisions.
The BJP MLAs termed Goel’s ruling that only 20 minutes will be reserved for them to speak as “despotic”. But Goel insisted that he was “following the Lok Sabha model”.
Senior officials said the norm is to divide floor time proportionately so that in an hour-long discussion, the BJP MLAs, with their current strength, stand to get six minutes.
Senior BJP MLA Vijender Gupta said the Assembly was witnessing an “emergency-like situation”. “The opposition MLAs demanded a breach of privilege motion against Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot for misleading the house on procurement of DTC buses and its AMC contract. In addition, the opposition also demanded to know why the matter pertaining to failure of the Delhi government in opening any new school or college and shortage of teachers in schools, that was listed for discussion, was withdrawn from the revised list, unilaterally. Unable to gather any satisfactory answer, the Delhi government marshalled the opposition out,” he said.
Meanwhile, soon after the proceedings started, Goel observed that senior Delhi government officials who were present in the gallery of the House did not stand up while the national song was being played. Later, assembly secretary Rajkumar raised the matter with Chief Secretary Vijay Dev through a letter. The secretary wrote that “necessary action” should be taken against the officers.