Millennium Post

Let there be polls in Delhi

Delhi has been under central rule for the past six months. After Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal decided to quit office of  chief minister, following his government’s failure to push through the state ombudsman bill, in the absence of any other party coming forward to form government, city is being administered by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, who is assisted by a team of bureaucrats. Prior to 1993, when National Capital Territory (NCT) Act, Delhi was used to be administered by the LG.

In the past two decades, the popular governments at Delhi Secretariat, despite not enjoying the powers of governing law and order and land matters, have not only enhanced people’s political aspirations but also structured accountability of the city government. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under the stewardship of the likes of Madanlal Khurana and Kidar Nath Sawhney had campaigned long for a representative government in the national Capital.

The first milestone was achieved with the passage of the NCT Act in 1993 with Khurana becoming the chief minister. The BJP government between 1993 and 1998 waged a long battle to get several central government agencies administering Delhi under its wings. However, after the loss in the 1998 assembly polls, the BJP has changed track on giving power to people of Delhi.

Though the party has consistently promised full statehood for the national Capital, in action it has done the reverse. In 2000, with Lal Krishna Advani as home minister at the Centre, the union government took away several powers of day-to-day governance from the duly-elected city government. And now the Narendra Modi-led Central government is not allowing the dissolution of the Vidhan Sabha to allow fresh polls.

The matter has been taken to the courts by AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal demanding that house be dissolved and fresh polls be held. Congress, which holds the key to government formation as the two major parties – BJP and AAP do not have clear majority, has said on record that it would not support any government in the national Capital. There is no unanimity in the BJP either on forming a decrepit government as the party has so far failed to wean MLAs away either from the Congress or the AAP.

With the Centre getting all the blame for a ramshackle administration provided by the Lieutenant Governor, who has neither managed to curb prices of essential commodities nor control a tumbledown on the law and order front, it’s better that polls are allowed lest BJP’s image gets completely besmirched carrying the burden of its loathsome regent.

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