Kejriwal takes on UPA government over Lokpal bill
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Friday his government was determined to push through the Jan Lokpal bill in the Delhi assembly, saying it did not need a central government nod.
In a communication made public, Kejriwal urged Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung not to bow down to pressures from the central government aimed at spiking what is stated to be a tough anti-corruption legislation.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader insisted that his government was doing no wrong - despite criticism from the Congress party which supports it - by not referring the bill to the union home ministry.
He said in his three-page letter in Hindi that the AAP government had been told by former Punjab and Haryana High Court chief justice Mukul Mudgal and lawyers P.V. Kapur, K.N. Bhatt and Pinaki Misra that the bill need not be shown to the central government.
"I am aware that there is tremendous pressure on you from the Congress and the home ministry," Kejriwal said.
"I am aware that in the coming days they will put pressure on you so that you don't allow the (special) Delhi assembly session (called to pass the Lokpal bill) at the Indira Gandhi (indoor) stadium.
"I am aware that they will put pressure on you so that you don't allow the Jan Lokpal bill to be presented in the Delhi assembly.
"They know that if the bill is passed, many of them will be jailed.
"I am aware that they will use your office to wrongly leak out select information in a bid to defame my government...
"You have taken oath to be loyal to the constitution, not any party or the home ministry," the letter said. "Don't let the constitution die."
Kejriwal said he was making the letter to Jung public following reports that quoted the Solicitor General as saying that the Lokpal bill required the central government's okay if it were to become law.
Kejriwal said there was no constitutional provision for this.
On the contrary, he described an "unconstitutional" a home ministry directive asking the Delhi government to take permission from the central government to introduce a bill in the Delhi assembly.
"If the central government's permission is to be taken every time a bill has to be passed in the Delhi assembly, then what was the need to hold an election in Delhi?"
Kejriwal said he had wanted to convey all this in person to Jung but called off the meeting after coming to know about the solicitor general's reported views on the Lokpal bill.
The Jan Lokpal bill is a pet theme of Kejriwal and the AAP, which was born from the anti-corruption campaign of Gandhian activist Anna Hazare.
Kejriwal had earlier vowed to convene a special assembly session to pass the bill at the Ramlila Maidan but Delhi Police cited security concerns to torpedo the choice of venue.
His government then picked the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium but the Sports Authority didn't permit its use.
On Friday, the Congress whipped up passions against the AAP government, saying while it was for the Lokpal bill, it would not support the Kejriwal regime in anything deemed unconstitutional.
Arvinder Singh Lovely, president of the Congress in Delhi, said: "We support a strong Lokpal bill but will not support this unconstitutional bill.
"This government has not followed all the legal formalities," Lovely said. "This government needs to work as per the constitution."
The Congress also attacked the AAP after one of its leaders, Ashutosh, called Jung "a Congress agent".
"By questioning those holding constitutional posts, the AAP is showing its mentality," Lovely said. "This has never happened before."
(Posted on 07-02-2014)