Lok Sabha approves Delhi Services Bill amid Oppn walkout

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the controversial Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which will replace an ordinance promulgated to give the Centre the power to control the transfers and postings of senior officers in the Delhi government.

The Bill introduced by home minister Amit Shah was passed with a voice-vote, amid a walkout by opposition parties. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the BJP of backstabbing the people of the national capital after the bill was passed.

The Lok Sabha also suspended newly-elected AAP member Sushil Kumar Rinku for the remaining part of the Monsoon session for unruly behaviour during the discussion of the Bill.

While replying to the debate, Shah said that Centre, state and union territory are distinct and "we can not interfere with states."

He said that the central government has the power to make laws on Union territories and Delhi, being a Union Territory, the Centre enjoys full rights to make rules also.

"I want to say to the people of this country that the Ordinance and the Bill are constitutional and are for the betterment of Delhi," said Mr Shah.

Launching a scathing attack on the opposition for joining hands against the central government's move to bring the bill, Mr Shah predicted that once the bill is passed, the opposition alliance will collapse.

He alleged that the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government in Delhi has not been not functioning within rules and it is even not convening assembly session regularly. Even the cabinet meeting of the Delhi government is not convened regularly, he said. "For you, the people's Bills are not important. You are only concerned about the small party leaving your coalition," said Shah.

Shah said the BJP and the Congress had ruled the national capital without any confrontation, but problems arose only in 2015 when a government came that had no intention to serve but only to fight with the Centre.

Speaking to reporters, Leader of the Congress Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury claimed that the issue was all about snatching the rights of an elected government but Shah was instead "abusive" to the opposition and made an election speech". He said he wanted to seek some clarifications from Shah, including on the Manipur issue, but was not allowed.

During the discussion on the Bill, AAP MP Rinku came to the well of the house and tore some papers and threw them in the direction of Speaker Om Birla.

Birla objected to Rinku's conduct in the House and asked Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi to move a resolution for the AAP member's suspension. Mr Birla formally named Rinku for conduct unbecoming of a member of the Lok Sabha following which the minister moved a resolution for his suspension for the remaining part of the Monsoon session. The motion was adopted by a voice vote.

Birla, who had abstained from the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, had skipped the House proceedings in the first half of Thursday too, to express displeasure over frequent disruptions. He returned post-lunch only after several opposition leaders met him and assured him that they would maintain the dignity of the chair.

Meanwhile, Kejriwal lashed out at the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and urged people not to believe anything the PM says.

"The BJP always promised to give full statehood to Delhi. In 2014, Modi himself said that on becoming the prime minister, he would give full statehood to Delhi. But today these people stabbed the people of Delhi in the back. Don't believe anything said by Modiji from now on," he said in a tweet in Hindi.

In May, the Centre promulgated the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023 that overturned the Supreme Court judgement handing over control of "services" in the NCT administration to the Delhi government.

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