BIHAR CHIEF MINISTER Nitish Kumar Sunday strongly backed his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal in his tussle with the Centre and said there was a need for all parties to come together to stop the Centre from changing the Constitution to its advantage.
“What the Centre is trying to do after the Supreme Court order is odd. Look at the Constitution. How can you take away the rights of an elected government? This is why we are saying that parties across the country need to come together so that they (Centre) cannot tweak the Constitution and other things to their advantage,” Nitish told reporters outside Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal’s residence after a meeting.
Kejriwal had Saturday sought support from Opposition parties to defeat an ordinance the Centre had promulgated the previous day to create a new authority to recommend transfers and postings of Group A and DANICS officers. The three-member authority, chaired by the Chief Minister, has the Chief Secretary and Principal Secretary (Home) as the other two members, effectively giving the bureaucrats powers of transfer and posting even if the elected CM disapproved.
After the meeting with Kejriwal, which lasted for almost an hour, Nitish said, “The people of Delhi have given him (Kejriwal) a strong majority. We agree that he is doing a very good job. Can the Centre stop work being done by a state government? This is shocking. We stand by him… In the meetings that happen in the future we are trying to bring the Opposition parties together, and run a campaign across the country for the rule of law to apply. There should be brotherhood. The attempts to create issues between people should end… We all are on the same page. If this happens, we are with him (Kejriwal), he is right.”
Nitish was accompanied by RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, the Deputy CM of Bihar, to the meeting with Kejriwal. “Today’s meeting was to discuss the rights a democracy grants to an elected government and the way governments in non-BJP states are continuously being harassed by the BJP,” said Tejashwi.
“The problem Arvind Kejriwal ji is facing, we are here to offer our full support. The Centre is being unfair to him. When the SC judgment has come, everything is clear. The way he is being harassed or the way the Centre is treating other states unfairly is not right. This is a danger to democracy. They want to change the Constitution, which we will not allow… If Delhi had a BJP government, would the L-G have dared to act like this? The more they trouble Arvind Kejriwal ji, the stronger he will get. I am sure the BJP will never return to power in Delhi,” he said.
Addressing the reporters, Kejriwal said, “If the entire Opposition comes together to fight the central government ‘s unconstitutional ordinance to suppress the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Rajya Sabha, there will be no BJP in 2024.”
“If we succeed in thwarting this unconstitutional ordinance in the Rajya Sabha, it will be akin to the semifinal for 2024 [Lok Sabha elections], sending a strong message that the BJP government’s days are numbered,” said Kejriwal, who will also be visiting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray this week to garner support for the AAP government in Delhi.
“I would like to thank Nitish ji and Tejashwi Yadav ji and all the other leaders who have come here with them today to support us. The SC in its order had very clearly said that officials of the Delhi Government should be answerable to the democratically elected state government. But within eight days of the court order, the central government brought an ordinance and overturned the court order,” he said.
On Friday, the Centre promulgated the ordinance that paved the way for formation of a National Capital Civil Service Authority, which will comprise the Chief Minister and two bureaucrats. It also gave the Lieutenant-Governor the right to veto the Authority’s decisions.
Kejriwal said, by bringing this order, the central government illegally “snatched” the powers from the Delhi Government and gave them to the L-G to run the national capital.
“It was a unanimous decision of a constitution bench that was overturned by the Central Government within eight days… We discussed the ordinance matter in detail and he also disagrees with it and the injustice it has done to the elected government,” Kejriwal, referring to the meeting with Nitish.
He said the Bihar CM is in talks with leaders of other non-BJP parties in an effort to bring all Opposition parties together. “He is currently involved in a movement that is trying to bring all the Opposition parties on a common platform. The idea is to unite all non-BJP parties. I have requested him that after the Opposition parties unite, we would urge them to stand for the people of Delhi in the Rajya Sabha and oppose the illegal ordinance that has been promulgated by the Centre,” Kejriwal said.
“If this Bill is introduced in the Rajya Sabha and the Opposition comes together and defeats it in the House, if we successfully manage to do that, then it will be a semifinal for BJP before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
Kejriwal’s call for an alliance with opposition parties is not new. In 2019, he sought an alliance with the Congress in Delhi till days before the voting day.
Recently, he sent an invitation to the Opposition parties to launch a ‘G-8’ platform to “learn from one another by visiting each other’s states and implement the good practices”. In March, Kejriwal said the meeting could not be held because of Assembly sessions in other states but said the plan was very much in place. The meet is yet to take place.
BJP MP Manoj Tiwari, meanwhile, said, “Nitish ji met Kejriwal. Nitish ji, Tejashwi Yadav, Lalu Prasad’s son, are running the government in Bihar. Several Opposition leaders have sidelined Kejriwal. Recently, during the Karnataka election people called Kejriwal the most corrupt leader. I feel pity that Nitish ji met Kejriwal because every person who has met him has lost his stature.”