Aam Aadmi Party’s campaign against the unconstitutional Ordinance issued by the Centre gained impetus on Tuesday with Trinamool Congress Chairperson and West Bengal CM Ms Mamata Banerjee providing her support to the initiative. The West Bengal CM met the visiting AAP delegation led by Delhi Chief Minister Shri Arvind Kejriwal and assured full cooperation of her party in this campaign. Other senior AAP leaders who visited Kolkata along with the Delhi CM included Punjab CM Sardar Bhagwant Mann, Rajya Sabha MP Shri Sanjay Singh, Rajya Sabha MP Shri Raghav Chadha and Delhi Education Minister Ms Atishi. West Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee has announced that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) will oppose the ordinance in the Rajya Sabha, expressing concerns over its implications for the rights of the Delhi Government.

The battle over Services between the Delhi Government and the Central Government finally came to a resolution earlier this month with the Supreme Court ruling in favour of the former. After a long and arduous legal battle, Chief Minister Shri Arvind Kejriwal emerged victorious, marking a significant milestone for the Delhi Government. However, the peace of the constitutional arrangement was short-lived as the Central Government swiftly overturned the Supreme Court’s directives within a mere eight days through the introduction of an ordinance. This move has drawn criticism from leaders across the nation who argue that the ordinance infringes upon the rights of the Delhi Government.

Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee expressed her strong opposition to the Centre’s ordinance, asserting that it undermines the authority and autonomy of the Delhi Government. She called upon all opposition parties to unite in the Rajya Sabha to defeat this ordinance, emphasising the opportunity it presents to thwart the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the 2024 elections.

Shri Arvind Kejriwal, in his passionate plea, labelled the potential failure of the Centre’s bill in the Rajya Sabha as the “semi-final” of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. He accused the BJP of resorting to coercion, horse trading, and manipulation of governing bodies in non-BJP states to maintain their grip on power. He urged the public to rise against this perceived arrogance of the government and strive to remove them from power.

Adding to the chorus of dissent, Sardar Bhagwant Mann raised concerns over the threats posed to the country’s constitution by the actions of these political parties. He questioned the course of action political parties would take if the very existence of the nation was compromised.

Addressing the media after the meeting, Ms Mamata Banerjee said that her state government would cooperate fully with the AAP-led Delhi Government in opposing the unconstitutional Ordinance that was promulgated by the Centre last week. She said that this is a great opportunity for the opposition parties to come together and oppose the wrongdoings of the BJP-led Central Government. “We all can come together and defeat the BJP in the Rajya Sabha regarding this Ordinance. This will be a good opportunity to defeat the BJP ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The Trinamool Congress has decided that it will oppose this Ordinance in the Rajya Sabha, if it happens to be introduced over there as a Bill. We are also willing to approach the Supreme Court to plead for justice in this case,” she said.

Shri Arvind Kejriwal thanked Ms Mamata Banerjee for her support and said that she received the visiting Aam Aadmi Party delegation in Kolkata with a lot of love and respect. “Didi is like my elder sister. Today I have travelled here to Kolkata to ask for her support in opposing the unconstitutional Ordinance that was promulgated by the Centre last week. When our government was formed in Delhi for the first time in 2015, the Centre passed a simple notification and snatched away the powers that the Constitution had given to the state government. After that we did not have the powers to conduct transfer posting of any government officer or suspend any corrupt officer. For eight years, we fought against this injustice and approached the Supreme Court. Finally now, when the court ruled in our favour and the people of Delhi won the battle, the Centre promulgated an Ordinance and overturned the court order,” he said.

The Delhi CM highlighted that the Centre waited for the court to go on vacation before promulgating the Ordinance, because it was aware that this order is illegal, unconstitutional and against the people of Delhi. “The Central Government was fully aware that if it brought in the ordinance before the court vacation and if the Delhi Government challenged it, it would not last in the court for even 5 minutes as it is completely unconstitutional,” he said.

He said that the BJP-led Central Government has gone on to make a mockery of democracy in the country. He pointed out three ways in which the Centre tries to topple elected governments in the state. “The first is that in those states where the BJP loses the election, it tries to buy the MLAs of opposition parties and tries to topple the state government. Second, in those states where the first option does not work, the Centre uses the ED-CBI and threatens the MLAs of the ruling party and tries to break the party and get the MLAs to join their party. The third, in those states where the first two plans don’t work out, the Centre uses the office of the Governor to obstruct the work of the elected government and promulgates Ordinances that do not let the state government function effectively. We have seen in states such as West Bengal, Punjab and Tamil Nadu how the Governors are causing problems for the elected state government,” he said.

Shri Arvind Kejriwal said that what the Centre has gone on to do in Delhi is completely against the mandate of the people. He further said that by promulgating an Ordinance, they have basically told the country that now they are not willing to follow the order of the Supreme Court of India. “The leaders of the BJP have become very arrogant and when arrogance gets to a person’s head then he does not think about the wellbeing of the nation. Therefore, I firmly believe that it is time for the people of the country to overthrow this arrogant government at the Centre. I would like to thank Didi for supporting us in taking this important step. She has assured us that her party would support our demand in the Rajya Sabha and help us defeat the Ordinance if it is presented over there as a Bill. I believe that if this Bill is defeated in the Rajya Sabha, then in some ways it will be a semifinal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

Punjab CM Sardar Bhagwant Mann also thanked Ms Mamata Banerjee for supporting the Aam Aadmi Party in its initiative and said that even earlier in the Lok Sabha, the Trinamool Party was always there whenever a Bill that was against the wellbeing of citizens was introduced by the BJP. “The relationship between Punjab and West Bengal has historically also been a very strong one. Even during the freedom struggle of the country, Shahid-e-Azam Bhagat Singh would often come from Lahore to Kolkata to fight against the British rule. Even now, the relationship between the two states is very strong and several of our Punjabi brothers and sisters live and work over here in West Bengal, particularly in the transport sector,” he said.

He further highlighted how the Centre has been bossing over states, and particularly those that are run by the opposition parties. “Despite having 91 out of 117 MLAs in Punjab, to have a Budget session of out legislative assembly, I was forced to take the matter to the Supreme Court. It was only after the SC rapped the Governor and said that he had no power to stop a Budget session from taking place, was it allowed to happen. If this is how this country is to be run then what is the point of holding elections. The 30 or so odd Governors and the Prime Minister can run the entire country. There is no pointing in electing any state government then,” he said.

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