Delhi's elected representatives versus Delhi's Lieutenant Governor — it's a debate done to death. Yet, the elected Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators have entered a four-day session of the Assembly from Monday seeking clarity on the powers that they have.
In light of the recent Delhi High Court verdict that ruled the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) was the supreme administrative authority of Delhi (which the Delhi government has decided to challenge in the Supreme Court), it appears the four-day session will be an exercise in futility.
During the four-day session, which is expected to be stormy, the AAP MLAs have decided to bring in resolutions in the House against Delhi Police and the BJP government at the Centre, demanding the Delhi government approach the apex court.
"The voters of Delhi have elected us to power. If, an elected government in any other state can function independently, without interferences from the Centre or the state governor, why we shouldn't be allowed to do so? (sic) Are Delhi voters less important than any other state? Keeping this in view the legislators could pass a resolution demanding Delhi government approach Supreme Court. Let the apex court interpret how the powers of an elected government has been undermined," a senior AAP functionary associated with the party's policy matters said.
While the Delhi High Court order making L-G the administrative head of Delhi will be at the top of the agenda, the party legislators will also raise the issue of arbitrary action of Delhi Police against AAP MLAs.
"Arbitrary action on AAP MLAs by the police will be taken up prominently. Till now 12 AAP MLAs have been arrested on flimsy grounds, which is unprecedented and never happened elsewhere," the AAP functionary said.
Will Assembly session end the power-tussle between the two arms of the Delhi government?
From the day AAP formed its government in Delhi, the power tussle between the L-G Najeeb Jung and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has become an issue of such importance that every other issue facing the national capital region gets relegated to the background.
Whether in the Assembly or outside, this single issue has dominated all other important issues related to common man. Over and again the issue of granting statehood to Delhi has emerged as the single-point agenda of the ruling government.
"Granting statehood to Delhi is an ongoing issue, which we're taking up in every platform. The other problems are arising due to absence of it. It can't be ignored in the Assembly session," the party functionary added.
However, Constitutional experts feel that nothing worth will come out of this four-day session, as it'll be a futile exercise.
“There can’t be a government within a government. Right from the beginning, and even after Delhi got its first CM and an Assembly, it’s under the Government of India. Since there has been no change in rules and regulations and transaction of business procedures, the status remains the same," said former secretary, Delhi Assembly, SK Sharma.
"There are ample references in our constitutional history and legislations were passed that clearly show that National Capital Territory (Delhi) can’t be under local government or local administration. Constitutionally, Delhi is a quasi-state with the L-G as the state head. He also has the control over law and order and land in the NCT. Debating on this issue every time especially in the assembly session seems a futile exercise," he added.
Other economic issues
The other key issues to be taken up are: A proposal to exempt luxury tax on rooms in budget hotels with a tariff up to Rs 1500 and ratifying the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill. The Delhi government may become the fourth state after the BJP-led Assam and Jharkhand, and JD(U)-led Bihar to ratify the 122nd Constitution amendment bill to roll out the goods and services tax (GST). "Implementation of GST will increase Delhi government’s share in central taxes. Thousands of people visit Delhi everyday from outside and many find it difficult to stay in a hotel due to high tariff. If luxury tax is exempted on rooms up to Rs 1500 in budget hotels, it'll help them," an AAP MLA said.