NEARLY THREE weeks after the public show of unity during the swearing-in of the JD(S)-Congress government in Bengaluru, the fault lines in the Opposition camp has come to the fore once again — this time over the protest by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his ministers at Lt Governor Anil Baijal’s office. While the Congress accused Kejriwal of indulging in theatrics to divert attention from its “failures”, other Opposition parties came out in support of the AAP’s battle against the BJP-led Centre.
On Friday, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu came out in support of Kejriwal, a day after West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had backed the Delhi CM. But then, Naidu’s endorsement came on a day when the Congress fielded Kejriwal’s predecessor Sheila Dikshit to attack him. Dikshit argued she had worked with a central government led by the BJP in her first term as chief minister between 1998 and 2003 without any rancour or conflict.
Significantly, the Opposition chief ministers came out in support of Kejriwal ahead of a meeting of the Niti Aayog Governing Council to be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by all the CMs.
Expressing solidarity with the “Government of Delhi elected by people,” Naidu tweeted “the trend of using the Governor’s Office for political benefits of the ruling party at the centre, goes against the spirit of the Constitution.” Coming out in support of Kejriwal, Banerjee had Wednesday argued that “elected Chief Minister must get due respect” and appealed to the central government to intervene and resolve the problem immediately so that people do not suffer.
The Left was more critical. “The BJP central government is using the office of the LG to obstruct the elected state government in Delhi to discharge its constitutional duties. This is despicable. The Centre must abandon this course of confrontation right away. The BJP at the Centre, has a terrible track record on federalism; of targeting states which are Opposition-ruled, their most recent bid was to attempt an illegal capture of the Karnataka state government,” Yechury said.
Senior CPI leader D Raja told The Indian Express that the Lieutenant Governors of Delhi and Puducherry think they are “superpowers.” “Blatantly, they are undermining the elected governments and chief ministers, not allowing then to function according to the mandate of the people, and the union government is using the LG’s offices brazenly. It should be condemned. The Lieutenant Governors think they can do anything. That is happening in Puducherry and Delhi. The Lieutenant Governors want to be in perpetual conflict with elected governments. The Prime Minister should intervene. The union government is doing politics in Delhi and Puducherry,” he alleged.
The Congress, on the other hand, hit out at Kejriwal. Dikshit and Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken recalled how the Congress government in Delhi worked harmoniously with the A B Vajpayee-led Centre between 1998 and 2003. Dikshit said Kejriwal should read the Constitution and then approach the Prime Minister and Parliament for full statehood. Ironically, she had raised the same demand several times when she was the Chief Minister.
Dikshit also questioned Kejriwal’s intention, arguing that the role of the Delhi Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Minister is defined in the Constitution. Maken said the AAP and the BJP in Delhi and at the Centre are indulging in “drama” to divert attention from their failures. He alleged that the dharna by both parties was part of a “well-planned strategy”.
The Centre, meanwhile, said it would not intervene in the row. Sources in the government said the situation has been created by the Chief Minister and he should find a way out.