DMC Act amendment: First major move to rein in Kejriwal

Devsagar Singh

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha passed the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2022 yesterday without   any difficulty, but the charges   have stuck that the BJP-led NDA government did so to rob the Kejriwal government of its legitimate rights to run the civic administration of the national capital. The Central Government first exercised its powers to defer the upcoming elections to the three civic bodies  of Delhi and subsequently amended the  DMC Act to virtually take them over. Coming within days  of the AAP’s landslide victory in the Punjab assembly elections, the act of indefinite postponement of the DMC elections was generally interpreted as BJP’s desperate move for fear of losing the civic polls in Delhi. It is another matter that two of the three  civic bodies had performed poorly, mainly because of lack of finances resulting in charges and counter-charges between the BJP and the Aam Admi Party.

Home Minister Amit Shah in his Lok Sabha speech yesterday accused the Kejriwal Government of starving the civic bodies of funds to cause distress to Delhi citizens so that they turn against the BJP. Shah said the fifth finance commission had recommended that the Delhi government grant Rs 40561 crore to the civic bodies. But it released less than Rs 7000 crore.

The fact remains that the civic bodies became a victim of turf war between the BJP and the Aam Admi Party. While  AAP controlled the Delhi government, the three civic bodies were under  the BJP. AAP had been planning for long to win the civic elections in Delhi. There is little doubt that Kejriwal would have won the elections had they been held now. 

Indeed, power structure in the national capital is botched on account of political one-upmanship. Both the Congress and the BJP vied with each other  to give statehood to Delhi.  Once granted, the Congress government under Sheila Dixit went further and trifurcated the MCD in the name of better administration. Running Delhi government was smooth till the BJP or the Congress was in power. After Kejriwal took over with huge majority in the Assembly, the situation changed with the former demanding more and more power. The dual authority—police and land under the Central Government and general administration, including civic bodies under Delhi government—is creating more  and more problems. With the civic bodies gone to the Centre now after the latest amendment,   the AAP is fuming.

For all one can guess, Delhi is going to witness more political fights between the ruling BJP at the Centre and the  increasingly popular Aam Admi Party. Both the BJP and the Congress, the two main players in Delhi, have been marginalized.  There is little hope of them seizing power in the near future.

The Centre’s  scheme  of ruling Delhi through Lt Governor  can be smooth only when the same party is in power in  the Delhi Assembly and in Parliament. Seven years of AAP’s ruling has proved this beyond any doubt.  The DMC Act amendment is the first major move to curtail the Delhi Government authority. Observers say the Centre under Modi  could take further steps to rein in Delhi. Only time will tell.

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