New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Ajay Maken on Tuesday strongly opposed extending any support to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on the issue of the Centre's ordinance on the administration of services in the national capital.
He said that if all previous Delhi chief ministers could perform their roles without creating any fuss, why was Arvind Kejriwal stirring up chaos? He asked whether it was mere political posturing.
Kejriwal has sought the support of various political parties on the Delhi services issue and on Tuesday met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. He also sought Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's support during their meeting earlier this week.
He is appealing to other parties too for support on the issue. The AAP has said that rejecting the proposed legislation to replace the ordinance will be a litmus test for the opposition unity.
Maken, a former Union minister who headed the Delhi Congress earlier, put out a long statement, titled "an examination of reasons to not oppose the ordinance - administrative, political, and legal aspects".
He said the Congress should not oppose the proposed legislation to be brought in Parliament on the Delhi services issue, replacing the ordinance promulgated by the Centre last week.
The ordinance for setting up a National Capital Civil Service Authority for the transfer of IAS and DANICS cadre officers and disciplinary proceedings against them virtually negated the May 11 Supreme Court order that ruled in favour of the AAP government.
Maken said that primarily, cooperative federalism principles don't fit in Delhi's context.
Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Partap Singh Bajwa endorsed Maken's viewpoint and said the party high command should not support Kejriwal on the issue as he deserves no sympathy.
"Aam Aadmi Party and Arvind Kejriwal deserve no support or sympathy from the Congress. AAP's Punjab government has launched ruthless witch-hunt against Punjab Congress leaders and workers and has made their lives hell by misusing the police and investigation agencies," he said on Twitter.
"I appeal to Congress high command to consult the leadership of Punjab, HP, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Gujarat and Karnataka before even considering helping AAP. It was instrumental in giving a political edge to BJP in these states. AAP is the B team of BJP and they are two sides of the same coin. Let's not protect a wolf in the sheep's clothing," Bajwa said.
Asked whether the Congress has decided to oppose the proposed legislation, party spokesperson Gourav Vallabh said the party will discuss the matter with its state units in Delhi and Punjab before taking a final call on the issue.
The AAP is in power in Delhi and Punjab.
AICC general secretary K C Venugopal on Monday said, "The Congress party has not taken any decision on the issue of the Ordinance brought against the SC judgment on the powers of the Government of NCT of Delhi with respect to appointment of officers. It will consult its state units & other like-minded parties on the same."
"The party believes in the rule of law and at the same time does not condone unnecessary confrontation, political witch-hunt and campaigns based on lies against political opponents by any political party," Venugopal said on Twitter.
Maken said Kejriwal is now seeking the support of the Congress, but his past political engagements raise some questions.
"His party, along with the BJP, passed a resolution requesting the Union Government to withdraw Bharat Ratna from our beloved Rajiv Ji.
"Moreover, Kejriwal backed the BJP both inside and outside of Parliament on the Jammu & Kashmir issue. This support came when J&K was divided and reduced to a Union territory, leaving its people disenfranchised for five years," he said.
The Congress leader said Kejriwal also supported the BJP during the move to impeach CJI Dipak Mishra on various charges, after the CJI refused to entertain a PIL for investigating the suspicious circumstances around the death of Justice Loya.
Kejriwal was the first to implement the controversial anti-farmer Laws, he charged, adding that his party also opposed the opposition's candidate for the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson and instead supported the BJP-sponsored candidate.
"Kejriwal's support for the BJP in Gujarat, Goa, Himachal, Assam, Uttarakhand, and in the recent Karnataka elections, where he fielded candidates against the Congress party, also begs the question - why only in states where Congress is the primary opposition or ruling party," he said.
"...anyone backing Kejriwal and opposing the ordinance is essentially going against the wisdom and decisions of Pandit (Jawaharlal) Nehru, B R Ambedkar, Sardar Patel, Lal Bahadur Shastri, and P V Narasimha Rao. The key question remains - if all the previous Delhi chief ministers could perform their roles without fuss, why is Kejriwal stirring up chaos now?
"Is this mere political posturing? Unfortunately, it's Delhi that bears the brunt of this unrest. In this turmoil, Delhi suffers the most," Maken charged.
He also said Delhi being the national capital, cooperative federalism principles don't fit in this context.
"...none of the prime ministers since independence allowed the elected Delhi government the powers to transfer and post officials," Maken said.