Nitish Kumar meets Kejriwal in Delhi, assures support to AAP govt amid tussle with Centre
New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday met his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal at the latter’s residence here and extended “complete support” to him in the AAP government’s ongoing tussle with the Centre over the control of administrative services.
Kumar was accompanied by his deputy and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.
The Centre promulgated the ordinance on Friday to create a National Capital Civil Service Authority for transfer of IAS and DANICS cadre officers and disciplinary proceedings against them.
This came a week after the Supreme Court handed over the control of services, excluding those related to police, public order and land, to the elected government in Delhi.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Kejriwal said he will personally reach out to the chiefs of all opposition parties to seek their support in the matter so that any bill brought by the Centre to replace the ordinance is defeated in Rajya Sabha.
“Day after tomorrow (Tuesday), I have a meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata at 3 pm. After that, I will meet every party’s president to seek their formal support for defeating the bill when it comes in Rajya Sabha,” Kejriwal said.
“I have also requested Nitish Kumar ji to talk to all the (opposition) parties in this regard,” he added.
An ordinance has to be ratified by Parliament within six months.
Kejriwal said if the bill is defeated in Rajya Sabha, it will send out the message that the BJP will lose the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
“It will be the semi-final of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls,” the AAP national convenor told reporters.
The National Capital Civil Service Authority will comprise the chief minister of the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi as its chairperson, along with chief secretary and principal secretary, home, who will be the member secretary to the authority.
“Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, the National Capital Civil Service Authority shall have the responsibility to recommend the transfers and postings of all the Group ‘A’ officers and officers of DANICS serving in the affairs of the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi but not officers serving in connection with any subject matter,” the ordinance read.
Kumar criticised the Centre for promulgating the ordinance after the Supreme Court verdict in the matter.
“How can you take away an elected government’s power,” the Janata Dal (United) leader asked.
“Look at the Constitution and see what is right. Whatever he (Kejriwal) is saying is right. We are completely with him,” he said.
Kumar said Kejriwal is doing good work in Delhi and it’s surprising that his government is being stopped from doing its work.
“That’s why we are saying that all (opposition parties) in the country should come together,” he said.
The Bihar chief minister assured that he will make efforts to bring opposition parties together in support of Kejriwal.
“We will hold further meetings. We are trying to ensure that the maximum number of opposition parties come together and a nationwide campaign is launched to demand that laws are followed and there is mutual harmony and brotherhood in the country.
“Efforts are being made to create conflicts among people. Such things should be stopped,” he said.
When asked, Kumar said he will also speak to the Congress leadership on the issue of the ordinance.
“I don’t think anybody will oppose it (supporting Kejriwal). We will talk to them,” he said.
Kejriwal was among the few non-BJP chief ministers who were not invited by the Congress to the swearing-in ceremony of its new government in Karnataka on Saturday, an event which was seen as a show of strength by opposition parties.
Kumar, on the other hand, had attended the event.
Extending his party’s support to Kejriwal, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Yadav alleged the Centre is “continuously troubling and harassing” non-BJP governments in different states.
“We have come here to extend our support to Kejriwal. The BJP government is doing injustice to him,” he said.
Yadav said the way the Centre is harassing the Kejriwal dispensation in Delhi and governments of other parties in different states is not justified at all.
“There is a clear threat to democracy. They want to change the Constitution and we will not let that happen at all,” he claimed.
“The more they (Centre) trouble and harass Kejriwal, the stronger he will become. I can say with full confidence that the BJP will never return to power in Delhi,” he added.
Sunday’s meeting was the second between Kumar and Kejriwal in over a month. Kumar had earlier met Kejriwal here on April 12 as part of his efforts to bring all opposition parties together ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
With Kejriwal’s relations with the Congress far from smooth, Kumar has the task of building some kind of a working relationship between the two as he also sees the grand old party as critical to any Opposition unity bid.
The AAP has grown in Delhi and Punjab by occupying the space once largely seen as Congress territory. A section of Congress leaders believe that reclaiming the constituency is the key to the party’s revival in these states and any compromise on it can hamper their plans.
Kumar has been meeting regional satraps as part of the unity exercise which is yet to take a concrete shape.