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Centre returns Sheila fire

New Delhi, Sept. 5: The home ministry today hit back at Congress chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who had claimed yesterday that North Block was “usurping” and “undermining” the powers of the Delhi government.

Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, in charge of the home ministry, said today his officials had made no change in the rules of transaction of business of the government of the national capital territory of Delhi, which have been in force since 1993.

Advani, however, said he would ask officials concerned, including the law ministry, to take a second look at the rules governing the administration of Delhi as Dikshit had written a letter to him in this regard.

The home ministry circular sent a few days ago says all powers under the conduct of business rules that were diluted in 1998 would now be vested in the Lt Governor.

All business — legislative and administrative — would be conducted through the Lt. Governor and the state’s council of ministers would now be accountable to him.

“There is no way that the National Democratic Alliance, which believes in devolution of power to the states, would clip the wings of the Delhi government,” explained a senior home ministry official.

“The Congress is making a fuss about nothing,” added the official.

According to the Rule 23, eight items have been listed on which any decision taken by the state administration has to be routed by the chief minister, through the chief secretary, to the Lt Governor for approval.

“This has been clearly laid down by law,” pointed out a home ministry official. However, this law was not followed in letter and spirit.

Lt Governor Vijay Kapoor, the Centre’s representative, was not amused at being by passed.

A few months ago, he wrote to the home ministry asking North Block to take a look at the rules governing the national capital territory. The ministry studied the rules, referred it to the law ministry and found that Kapoor had a point.

The ministry then sent a copy of the rules once again to the Delhi administration to remind the Congress government that it had not been following regulations. “It was a gentle reminder that the Dikshit government was not on track,” said an official.

Dikshit, however, raised an alarm yesterday and talked of the Centre harassing the Congress government in Delhi to make it a lame duck administration to help the BJP wrest back the state in the next elections.

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