It took a long campaign for Delhi to acquire the status of a Union Territory with a legislative assembly in 1991. Because this is widely perceived by citizens as having been central to the improved quality of governance in the capital, at one time or another political parties across the spectrum from Congress and BJP to AAP have further promised full statehood.
In 2018 a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court clarified that the Centre’s executive power over the National Capital Territory was “confined” to public order, police and land. So the Delhi government’s powers have limits. But even the existing autonomy and therefore accountability of the elected government now stand to be stripped down, if the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2021 that the Centre has introduced in Parliament on Monday, is passed. Because this Bill makes it necessary for the Delhi government to obtain the “opinion” of the lieutenant governor before taking any executive action.
Also read: Bill in Lok Sabha to give LG more power, stage set for Centre-AAP faceoff
To underline, elections mean the government’s accountability to citizens. To straightjacket an elected government makes a mockery of the vote cast for it in high numbers. Congress and other opposition parties should provide rock solid support to AAP in this matter. Delhi is not a state. But it does have a legislative assembly. Don’t make that legislative assembly meaningless and return Delhi to the last century.
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