The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sheila cries foul over power cut

New Delhi, Sept. 4: Chief minister Sheila Dikshit is up in arms against the Centre’s move to “curtail and usurp” the powers of the Delhi government.

In a note sent by the Union home ministry three days ago, the Delhi administration was told that all its major decisions would have to be cleared by the Centre’s representative, Lt. Governor Vijay Kapoor. Kapoor, a former bureaucrat close to the BJP, will now be in a position to scuttle any decision of Dikshit’s council of ministers and the state legislature.

The chief minister has written to Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, objecting to the move.

Dikshit believes this is a political attempt to reduce her Congress government to a lame duck administration ahead of the next Assembly elections in 2003. The BJP is determined to wrest Delhi, a traditional stronghold, back from the Congress.

“There are a lot of decisions which should be taken by the Delhi government and passed by the Assembly. These powers are being taken away from us,” she said.

The Centre was required by norm to transfer all powers, apart from law and order and land, to the state government, Dikshit added. The home ministry’s move was “in violation of all democratic traditions and conventions”, she asserted.

The Centre was moving to “tamper with” the transaction of business rules, which lay down the business of the elected government and the procedures to be followed, she said.

The Congress believes that the BJP-led Centre is trying to make it difficult for Dikshit to rule.

The chief minister said the Centre wants to grab all credit for the metro rail now that it is near completion. “We worked so hard for it and now everyone wants to take credit,” she said.

The Centre had proposed to introduce a legislation in Parliament and take over control of metro rail’s operations and maintenance, she said. The Delhi government opposed the move when the draft Bill was forwarded to it for its opinion.

Delhi BJP chief Madan Lal Khurana said he was against any attempt to curtail the state government’s powers, but blamed Dikshit for the home ministry’s move. He said the Congress government’s failure to demand full statehood for Delhi exposed its weakness, which was responsible for all the problems.

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