Lok Sabha clears the Delhi MCD merger Bill : The Tribune India

Tribune News Service

Vibha Sharma

New Delhi, March 30

The Lok Sabha today cleared the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, that seeks to unify the three municipal corporations of the national capital following an intense debate that saw allegations and counters flying with BJP speakers slamming Arvind Kejriwal and opposition parties like Congress and TMC who called the legislation “unconstitutional” and accused the ruling BJP of “running away” from elections “due to fear of losing”

In a hard-hitting reply to observations by opposition MPs as the Lok Sabha became a battleground of Delhi politics with BJP MPs taking on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Home Minister Amit Shah said the Bill was well within the powers vested in the Parliament as per Section 239 AA of the Constitution. “The Bill is as per the Constitution of India. Since Delhi is a Union Territory, the Government of India has all the right to bring any legislation relating to it,” he said, trashing arguments made by Congress and TMC MPs, including Manish Tewari and Mohua Moitra who also accused the BJP of shedding ” crocodile tears” over the past decade, demanding statehood for Delhi.

“I cannot bring such a law in Maharashtra and Gujarat…those who don’t know the difference between state and UT are trying to mislead the country. The Bill does not infringe upon the rights of the State” Shah said.

“Neither I nor Center can do it in the states. But if you don’t know the difference between a state and the UT, I think Constitution needs to be studied again,” he said

Trashing arguments that the ruling party was bringing the Bill because it was “scared of losing the elections”, Shah said “fear is not the nature of BJP or its cadres.”

“We were not scared when we were two in the house and not when we are 302. Those who are saying that elections (MCD polls) have been postponed due to fear of polls, themselves are scared. If you are so confident of the victory then why do you want elections right now? If you have done good work, you will win six months later too,” he said.

Giving the reference of former PM Indira Gandhi imposing the Emergency after the verdict of the Allahabad High Court Shah said: “I will tell you what is fear. After the Allahabad HC canceled the election of Indira Gandhi, a Prime Minister who did not have the right to vote in this House, snatched away democratic rights in the country and imposed Emergency. That is fear.”

Referring to the Aam Aadmi Party, he said its candidates lost deposits in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in all the seats it contested and in 35 seats of Goa. “No karyakarta of BJP is scared. We are sure than under Prime Minister Narendra Modi we will win everywhere,” he said.

Shah also countered the observation by TMC’s Saugata Roy that the BJP was trying to gain power all over, saying that it was its democratic right like that of all the parties in the country. “Otherwise, why did you (TMC) contest in Goa and Tripura. Yes, we want to contest everywhere…but we don’t want to come to power by killing the workers of the opposition. We don’t want this through a series of murders. We don’t want this by raping the wives and sisters of workers. This is not our culture,” he said.

“Only those who fear the loss of power are objecting to the Bill. Advocates of democracy can never object to it. We want to contest and win elections on the basis of our program, ideology, popularity of our leaders and our performance,” the Home Minister said, also adding that his statement regarding elections in Jammu and Kashmir is on the record and that the election process will be held soon after the delimitation exercise is completed.

Moving the Bill, Shah accused the Delhi government of meeting out “step-motherly” treatment to municipal corporations in the national capital due to which they are struggling with inadequate resources for carrying out their responsibilities. The trifurcation of the MCD was done in a hurry for political reasons which led to an imbalance between the income and liabilities of the civic bodies, he said.

Being the country’s capital, Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament, Prime Minister’s Office, central secretariats, among other important offices, are in Delhi and carrying out civic services is very important here, he said.

The Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi has been critical of the Centre’s move to bring the bill a month before the elections to the three municipal corporations, claiming it was an attempt by the BJP to delay the polls as it feared defeat.