Is India’s Quasi Federal set -up under threat?

Modi Kejriwal

With the hugely controversial GNCTD bill passed hastily and pushed down the opposition throat arbitrarily in a very high-handed manner ,pulling through amassing the required number of yes votes just like the three infamous farm bills, the present govt has once again floundered its astute manipulative overture in gaining an upper hand in the transfer of sweeping executive powers to its protégé, Lieutenant Governor instead of leaving vested in the democratically elected Delhi government of Kejriwal.

BJP government which, once clamoured for the statehood to Delhi and L.K Advani was vociferously advocating for it once has taken a complete u -turn swerving its instance probably because it perceives its virtual ostracization in this key capital in the wake of well-established robust popularity of AAM ADMI Party despite BJP’s virtual sweeping of every single state either through its own ruling state governments or as a formidable opposition playing out horse-trading games of either toppling them or imposing president rule like in Jammu &Kashmir lately.

Since time immemorial in India’s democratic set up centre-state relationship has always been the crux of tussle as our constitutional structure is as such that India tends to be unitary in character, but federal in structure and even the power sharing in cases of making the laws on the centre, state and the concurrent lists, the centre is deemed to have an upper hand as it is constitutionally empowered to play that hegemonistic role on the concurrent list also.

Since Delhi, a hugely populated megapolis of nearly three crores, has its teething innumerable urbanisation linked problems a loner Lieutenant Governor could not be entrusted with the onerous task of tackling total administrative governance at his will and whimsical wantonness dealing with the governance nightmare and monitoring the democratically elected Chief Minister who, in fact enjoys the legitimate support of majority of the Delhiites for now two straight terms and has the entire cabinet ministers to assist him in the day-to-day management affairs, planning and policies.

This primacy bill on BJP’s platter could be heralded as one of the saddest days in the Indian democracy, despite the uproar from all opposition parties vowing to fight back to restore powers to the people of the National Capital Territory by their unprecedented pushback against overweening Centre which seeks to strengthen its clout through every possible means in an undemocratic fashion thriving on the so-called constitutional lacuna of the governors’ ceremonial or customary and mandatory nod in every bill or decision taken by the cabinet houses.

The long-drawn war of attrition waged by the centre against the democratically majority Kejriwal’s two terms government by stalling or dillydallying tactics by L.G of every policy decisions or welfare schemes or moves like Mohall Clinics or Doorstep Delivery of rations, subsidised electricity, water supply and regularisation of the unauthorised slums and colonies of poor and minorities has been the greatest stumbling block in the smooth functioning of Delhi government and if this clash of vested interests continues to contribute to the rifts already widened and well-known ,Delhiites will have to pay dearly in this pathetic pandemic and sluggish economic downturn.

AAP is up in arms against this Centre’s move of making the state administration virtually imponent simply because the centre being constitutionally imponent can hardly has any better bargain in losing this already defeated battle of supremacy through its hand-picked Lieutenant Governor and its formidable representation in Delhi’s Municipal Commission, but Delhi is not a small city to be governed as a municipality by an all-powerful individual termed as L.G who is probably not at all empowered constitutionally or administratively to carry out the insurmountable task of running the future city of millions of people including lacs of immigrants apart from being the hot seat of all central government machineries and foreign diplomatic missions headquarters.

This war over NCT bill and Delhi Model Vs BJP Model propositions are just the tip of the iceberg of a larger backdrop in which many of the non BJP states have been pitted against the centre’s contra interventions in a highhanded manner in terms of the fiscal policies, power sharing, unified taxation in the name of GST distribution and state share, language impositions, governors’ sudden transfers and presidential direct rule in the extreme case incurring the wrath of the elected legitimate state governments, given the nature of our unitary form of the democracy with a federal structural provision enshrined.

Whether this bill will pass the judicial scrutiny in the absence of its being completely unconstitutional when the democratically elected Chief Minister is reduced to the status of a Chief Secretary and answerable to the L.G,a direct representative of the central government as the constitutional acting head without any popular or public mandate to work independently and prove detrimental or debilitating to the smooth governance against or contrary to the laid down principles in our constitution article no:239 AA which only exclude land ,law and order and police from the Delhi govts’ rights.

The clarity already forwarded by the supreme court ruling regarding centre state relationship or power sharing and should serve as a guiding principle in formulating any new bill before any majoritarianism from the mighty centre is reflected through its leaning towards consolidating its own political foundation by undermining the states as subservient to the Central authority.

Mohammad Haseen Ahmed (a columnist and educationist),English Language Instructor, King Abdul Aziz University, English Language Institute Jeddah, Saudi Arabia



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