As part of a nationwide tour to gather support for his fight against the CM Kejriwal Center Ordinance along with his party’s CM for Punjab Bhagwant Mann met Banerjee in Calcutta. They were accompanied by AAP leaders Raghav Chadha and Atishi Singh.
Joint press meeting
During the meeting, leaders discussed the central ordinance establishing a National Capital Civil Service Authority which essentially nullifies a Supreme Court order last week that awarded oversight of services, excluding those related to the police, to public order and the territory, to the government elected in Delhi.
After the meeting, Banerjee, Kejriwal and Mann held a short joint press conference in which the CM of Bengal assured that he would urge other opposition parties to join the fight and not vote for the ordinance.
“The central government will govern all states, through governors, ordinances and letters… I request all opposition parties that if you are willing to work together, do not let a single vote go to the BJP, I want everyone to vote for the not BJP against that order,” Banerjee said.
The center could change the Constitution: Banerjee
He also attacked the BJP-led Center for making a “mockery of democracy” and accused it of “using the CBI and the ED to try to break up opposition governments” in states and using “governors to disturb administration”.
“This government has become a government ‘of the agency, by the agency, and for the agency’. We fear that the central government may change the constitution, may change the name of the country… They don’t even respect the Supreme Court’s verdicts “, he added.
Banerjee further said that such drastic measures were a sign of desperation and that “the double engine (BJP rule) has become an engine in trouble”.
Semifinal for 2024: Kejriwal
Thanking Banerjee for her support, Kejriwal said, “I thank Didi (Mamata Banerjee) for assuring us that she will support us in the Rajya Sabha (against the Center’s order to create an authority for the transfer and secondment of A Group officers in Delhi).I believe if this bill is stopped in Rajya Sabha then this will be a semi final for 2024 (Lok Sabha election).”
Sources in the CM secretariat said the two sides had been discussing the 2024 national election and the possibility of forging opposition unity.
Before starting his journey to Kolkata, Kejriwal had tweeted: “Today I start my journey to the country for the rights of the people of Delhi. The Supreme Court has issued a ruling that brings justice to the people of Delhi. The Center has seized away those rights carrying the order”.
“When this comes to the Rajya Sabha, you have to make sure it doesn’t pass. I will meet the leaders of all political parties and ask for support,” he added.
The National Capital Civil Service Authority will deal with the transfer of IAS and DANICS cadre officials and also with matters related to disciplinary proceedings against them.
The AAP has already sought the support of all non-BJP parties saying that this is a “time for agni pariksha” for opposition parties and that they should unite if they are to save the country’s democracy and constitution.
BJP mocks Kejriwal-Mamata meeting
Meanwhile, the BJP called the meeting between Banerjee and Kejriwal in Calcutta “political tourism of would-be prime ministers ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls”.
The party said the dreams of these “would-be PMs” will remain unfulfilled as the BJP returns to power for the third consecutive time next year under the leadership of Narendra Modi.
BJP state chairman Sukanta Majumdar said the meeting between the two top leaders to create unity was a “futile exercise” as efforts to form such an alliance in 2014 and 2019 had failed. “The people of this country would never vote for an unstable and opportunistic alliance over a stable government offered by the BJP,” he said.
Undermining Congress Policy: Chowdhury
State Congress Chairman Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that the AAP and TMC are following the same policy of trying to weaken the Congress and increase their strength, thereby helping the BJP. “The electoral battle of the two parties in Goa, Gujarat, Mizoram and Tripura has only helped the BJP,” said Chowdhury.
On Monday, AICC secretary general KC Venugopal said Congress had not taken any decision on issuing the ordinance.
“We will consult state units and other like-minded parties. The party believes in the rule of law and, at the same time, does not condone pointless confrontations, political witch-hunts and campaigns based on lies against political opponents by any party political,” Venugopal said.
Congress calls on Center to honor SC’s verdict on Delhi services
The sentiment of the Congress high command coincides with the suggestion of the party rank and file.
The point was forcefully reiterated by Delhi Congress leaders Ajay Maken and Sandeep Dikshit in recent days, which explains the announcement of “consulting state units”. Crucially, the issue figured in the deliberations between Congress head Mallikarjun Kharge and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, also attended by Rahul Gandhi, on Monday.
BJD and Reddy hold the key
The NDA lacks a majority in the upper house and will depend on the assistance of Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YRS Congress and Odisha BJD CM Naveen Patnaik to pass the legislation in the monsoon session.
Both leaders have so far resisted attempts to join the anti-BJP bloc.
The NDA currently has a strength of 110 in Rajya Sabha and can add a couple more by filling the two vacant posts of nominated members. Even then, it will still be eight under a majority in the House with an effective strength of 238.
(With contributions from agencies)