Opposition slams MCD amendment bill as move against ‘cooperative federalism’

New Delhi: On Wednesday, leaders of various opposition parties accused the Union government of showing “blatant disregard” for the spirit of “cooperative federalism” and of trying to encroach on the power of the government to Delhi by seeking to reunite the three municipalities of Delhi.

Opposition parties, some of which had recently clashed in Goa, came together in a show of force to oppose the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2022 in the Lok Sabha. The bill seeks to overturn the 2011 amendment to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi Act 1957 by which the former Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was divided into separate Northern, Southern and Eastern Corporations. East. The bill also aims to put a cap of 250 seats on the civic body – up from 272 currently.

Members have questioned the timing of the move, as it comes just days before the three companies go to the polls in April 2022.

The Amendment Bill also notes that a demarcation exercise will likely be conducted to draw the “extent of wards” and mark seats reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates and women. This exercise, MPs pointed out, could lead to a significant postponement of the 2022 municipal elections in Delhi.

Speaking against the motion to pass the bill, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury accused the legislation of showing that the Union government was determined to encroach on the rights of the Delhi government.

While the government in Delhi is currently led by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), whose entry onto the political scene in the nation’s capital has pushed Congress to the fringes, Chowdhury has nonetheless stood up to defend his rights.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Supriya Sule has also demanded that the MCD Amendment Bill be sent to the Delhi Assembly, saying she alone has the power to decide on the matter. .

Trinamool Congressman Mohua Moitra accused the bill’s introduction of showing a blatant disregard for cooperative federalism. Speaking to NDTV earlier, Moitra had said that only the Delhi assembly has the power to make a decision on the MCD bill. She pointed out that the 2011 amendment, by which the MCD was trifurcated, took place at the Delhi assembly.

Moitra also said that the constitution clearly states that power over municipal corporations rests with the states and that they fall under the list of states. In accordance with these two rules, she said, the MCD Act cannot be amended in Parliament.

Moitra also questioned why the amendment was made just as the corporate polls were due to take place in Delhi in April 2022. She said the state’s Election Commission said the elections would be held on time.

The delimitation exercise which has been planned alongside the legislation has the potential to delay the elections of civic bodies in Delhi. With the Amendment Bill to cap the number of seats in Delhi’s civic body at 250 wards and a new demarcation exercise having been planned to draw “the extent of wards”, Moitra expressed concern that the process could take nearly a year. and as such it was no longer clear when the MCD elections would take place.

Earlier, speaking on the need for the bill, Union Home Minister Amit Shah accused the Delhi government of adopting a “mother-in-law attitude” towards the three companies. He said it was essential for civic bodies to function properly in Delhi as it was the national capital and also housed the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Prime Minister’s office, secretariats and other important places.

Virginia S. Braud