(Photo: Sanjeev Verma/HT)
(Photo: Sanjeev Verma/HT)

4 years on, Delhi remains centre of power tussle between BJP, AAP

  • There have been disagreements between Delhi’s AAP govt and BJP-led government at centre on several issues
  • On Thursday, the AAP government completed four years in office

NEW DELHI : Over the years, the New Delhi assembly constituency has witnessed some of the most high-profile contests in state elections. The central Delhi neighbourhood has been represented by chief ministers for the past two decades. In 2015, Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal won the seat with an absolute majority, defeating three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit.

Following Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling over the sharing of power between the Delhi government and the centre to run the national capital, voters from the constituency said that the issue should be solved as it comes in the way of development.

“When there are multiple people in a house, there is bound to be some disagreement. They can be solved, but in this case, no one wants to end them," said Harish Kumar Gupta, 60, who has been running a grocery store in Gole Market since 1996. Gupta was referring to the tussle between the Delhi government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the centre over the transfer of bureaucrats.

On Thursday, the AAP government completed four years in office. However, it was dealt a setback after the Supreme Court decided to refer to a larger bench the matter of whether it is the Centre or the state that gets to decide on appointments, transfers and postings of bureaucrats.

(Graphic: Paras Jain/Mint)

The apex court also added that Delhi being special state, matters of land, services, and law and order come under the purview of the central home ministry and the lieutenant governor (L-G).

“The judgement is against the Constitution and democracy. We will seek legal remedies. The elected government has been left with no powers. How will an elected government function when they don’t even have the right to transfer non-performing officers," Kejriwal said.

Exactly four years ago on this day, Kejriwal had taken oath for the second time to form an AAP-led government in the capital. In a historic mandate, AAP got a brute majority, winning 67 of the 70 seats in 2015. While the party is in a majority in the state assembly, the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi are represented by the BJP.

Ahead of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, the AAP has decided to make statehood its main agenda, an issue that has resonated with a section of voters, particularly in the New Delhi constituency.

“We may not see him (Kejriwal) around in the constituency, but at least there is work that can be seen around us. There has been development in health, education, installation of surveillance cameras and putting systems online," Kaushal Kumar, a retired government official, said.

The AAP scored electoral success by attracting a diverse support base of middle class and lower middle class voters and the economically disenfranchised, with its promise of corruption-free governance and innovative development ideas.

After coming to power, the government’s first decision was to implement its manifesto promise of giving free electricity and water. Since then, it has shifted its focus to education, which accounts for 26% of the state budget, and healthcare, with the opening of mohalla or neighbourhood clinics.

The New Delhi constituency has been one of political significance. The seat was previously represented by three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who was one of the longest serving chief ministers of Delhi and recently made a comeback as the president of Delhi Congress. In 2013, Kejriwal defeated Dikshit by over 22,000 votes. In the 2015 elections, Kejriwal retained the seat by over 30,000 votes.

“It is not like there was no work done during Sheila Dikshit’s regime -- a lot of work happened -- but Kejriwal has changed the way work is done," Rajinder Yadav, a resident of the constituency, said.

In the last year, the stand-off between the state government and the bureaucracy escalated with government officials holding a strike. This led to Kejriwal, along with deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and cabinet ministers Gopal Rai and Satyendra Jain, staging a sit-in protest in L-G Anil Baijal’s office.

“The Constitution has defined the power Delhi has, and it is not unlimited. A lot of things are handled by the centre, L-G and home ministry. Fighting is not a solution. If needed, changes have to be made. Power doesn’t depend on the number of seats you have," Dikshit said after the Supreme Court judgment on Thursday.

Close