Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday claimed that the passage of the Bill that aims to give more power to the Capital’s lieutenant governor shows that the Narendra Modi government was insecure about Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s growing popularity. He added that the prime minister was doing “negative politics” to stop good governance.

The National Capital Territory of Delhi Amendment Bill, 2021, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The Opposition, including the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress, walked out just before the Bill was put to vote as a mark of their protest. The controversial Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

Sisodia, while addressing a press briefing on Wednesday, alleged that the Bill was brought in to stop Kejriwal from moving forward and to counter his popularity. “People have started discussing that Arvind Kejriwal could be an alternative to Modi ji,” the Delhi deputy chief minister said. “They are wondering who could give the country a good governance model apart from PM Modi.”

The Delhi deputy chief minister added that the whole world was discussing the work done by his government over the last six years. “There has been improvement in government schools and hospitals in Delhi,” Sisodia said. “The Capital’s Covid management has been excellent. Somewhere, all this is troubling the BJP government.”

Sisodia claimed that no one in the country was talking about the “BJP model of governance”. “Why has the BJP not established a model of development anywhere?” he asked. “If Delhi can get clean water for 24 hours, why are other the states not getting adequate supply? People have begun asking these questions and the BJP is feeling insecure about Kejriwal’s model and his popularity.”

Kejriwal had said on Wednesday that the passage of the Bill marked a “sad day for democracy”. “We will continue our struggle to restore power back to people,” he tweeted. “Whatever be the obstacles, we will continue doing good work. Work will neither stop nor slow down.”

Sisodia also said the Delhi government was in talks with legal experts to challenge the Bill. “CM Kejriwal is a fighter,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Rajya Sabha saw repeated adjournment as the Opposition spoke out against the bill. Kharge, who is the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, had demanded that the Bill be sent to a select committee for consideration. Several other MPs called the Bill “unconstitutional” and said it would take away the powers of the Delhi’s elected government.

National Capital Territory of Delhi Amendment Bill

The proposed law would significantly expand the powers of the Centre-appointed Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, at the cost of the elected Assembly. Among other things, the Bill proposes that the term “government” in the law that underpins the functioning of Delhi refers to the lieutenant governor and not the elected leadership. Additionally, the legislation requires the Delhi government to seek the opinion of the lieutenant governor before taking any executive action.

At the core of the matter is Article 239AA of the Indian Constitution, which gives Delhi the special character of a Union Territory, with a Legislative Assembly that has a lieutenant governor as its administrative head.

Delhi has an elected Assembly, which has been dominated by the Aam Aadmi Party for six years now. The party managed to get consecutive landslide victories in 2015 and 2020, with the Bharatiya Janata Party in a distant second place both times.

This has meant, however, that AAP’s tenure since 2015 has been marked by constant tussles between the government and the Centre, primarily through the office of the lieutenant governor. In addition to that, the tensions have continued as the Centre controls land, public order and the Delhi Police.