CM-LG rows, a legacy of rival politics

Last Updated 14 February 2019, 16:38 IST

While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a campaign on full statehood for the capital, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, seeking a free hand in taking administrative decisions, continued with his dharna outside the Raj Nivas against Lt Governor Kiran Bedi there.

The 'LG versus chief minister' row in both the states ruled by Opposition parties — the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi and Congress in Puducherry — has once again brought to fore the tension in the federal polity of the country, when rival parties are in power in the Centre and the state.

The judgement of the Supreme Court on the Delhi issue, although it did not clearly address the question of who the boss in Delhi is, has given enough ammunition to the BJP to launch a tirade against Kejriwal for saying the verdict is "against the Constitution and democracy and an injustice to people of Delhi".

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra accused Kejriwal of "declaring war on the Supreme Court" after the verdict, which he said is a "big defeat" for the Delhi chief minister.

This is the second time that the Supreme Court made it clear that the Delhi government has limited power under the Constitution.

In November 2017, the Supreme Court had said the Lieutenant Governor is the final authority in cases of differences between him and the government on any matter, and earmarked the areas in which the state government has no power.

The row between the Delhi chief minister and Delhi Lieutenant Governor had culminated into a massive controversy when Kejriwal and his Cabinet colleagues, in an unprecedented move, had held a sit-in at the official residence of LG Anil Baijal's official residence for over a week, alleging that there is de facto President's rule in Delhi.

He had also sought President Ram Nath Kovind's intervention in solving the "Emergency-like" situation in the capital, accusing the Centre of provoking IAS officers to go on a strike against the government.

Kejriwal had then said Delhi LG "fires one bullet" and went to the extent of accusing him of functioning like Hitler.

This was the culmination of a three-year tussle that started between Kejriwal and then Delhi LG Najeeb Jung over issues such as bureaucratic appointments, administrative control and implementation of policy decisions.

In 2016, Kejriwal had accused Jung of "snooping" on him and his ministers.

In contrast, in 2010-11, when Sheila Dikshit was the Congress chief minister of Delhi, her run-ins with the then LG, Tejinder Khanna, were short term as the Congress was the ruling party at both the Centre and the state then.

In Puducherry, even though Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy started a dharna against LG Kiran Bedi on Wednesday, the seeds of discord were sown right in the last week of May 2016, BJP’s Bedi was appointed LG.

Narayanaswamy took oath as Congress chief minister in the first week of June the same year.

Since then, their relationship has never been cordial. It reached a climax in October last year when the chief minister wrote to Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking a probe into the alleged unauthorised mobilisation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds by Bedi.

The LG-CM row in not new in Puducherry either. During the UPA era, when a breakaway group from Congress, NR Congress, came to power in the 2011 Assembly polls, there was never peace between the UPA-appointed LG Virendra Kataria and Chief Minister Rangaswamy.

Ironically, Narayanswamy became a powerful minister in UPA II government.

Unlike other Union Territories, both Delhi and Puducherry have partial statehood and they can have state Assemblies, although the administrative heads have earmarked roles.

(Published 14 February 2019, 14:36 IST)

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