Chandrababu Naidu turns Brutus for Kejriwal on Delhi Services Bill

Union Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, in the Rajya Sabha on Monday after it was passed by the Lok Sabha last week

Chandrababu Naidu turns Brutus for Kejriwal on Delhi Services Bill

HYDERABAD: Union Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, in the Rajya Sabha on Monday after it was passed by the Lok Sabha last week. The Bill seeks to replace an ordinance promulgated by the Centre earlier this year for handling the transfers and postings of senior officers in the Delhi Government. In May,2023, the Supreme Court had handed over the control of services in Delhi excluding police, public order and land to the elected Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Government, headed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

In a boost for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government at the Centre, Chandrababu Naidu's TDP had announced its support for the Bill, despite being a former opponent of the Centre. This means that both the regional parties of Andhra Pradesh, the ruling Jagan Mohan Reddy led YSRCP and the opposition TDP, are now supporting the Centre. The support is a huge blow to Arvind Kejriwal's AAP. While the BJP and allies in the ruling NDA have 103 members, the support from BJD, TDP and YSRCP will take the number to 127, ensuring that the Bill would be comfortably passed in the Rajya Sabha too.

The YSRCP, which has nine members in Rajya Sabha and 22 in Lok Sabha, has often supported the Centre on critical Bills. With the backing of YSRCP members, the NDA Government can easily get its controversial Delhi Bill through Rajya Sabha, where it does not have a majority. While it was expected that the YSRCP would support the NDA Government, Chandrababu Naidu's u-turn was a bit shocking.

Kejriwal support to TDP in election rallies and their camaraderie naturally turned Jagan against the Delhi Chief Minister from the beginning.

Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh in 2019, and Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, were seemingly on the same page in the lead-up to the 2019 General Elections when they joined forces against what they perceived as a growing centralisation of power by the NDA Government at the Centre. Their collaboration was not only politically expedient but also rooted in shared concerns about preserving the autonomy and rights of State Governments, particularly in the face of attempts to undermine them.

In the months preceding the elections, Naidu and Kejriwal embarked on a strategic alliance that saw them engage in a series of high-profile joint appearances and rallies. Their shared platform aimed to amplify the voices of regional parties and promote a united front against what they characterised as the encroachment of federal authority on State affairs.

Together, Naidu and Kejriwal spearheaded a campaign to garner support for the opposition coalition. They highlighted issues such as the autonomy of State governments, the protection of federal structures, and the importance of cooperative federalism. Their joint efforts included joint rallies, press conferences, and public addresses, where they passionately articulated their grievances against the perceived overreach of the BJP-led Government.

The alliance between the TDP and AAP garnered attention not only for its political significance but also for the rapport between Naidu and Kejriwal. Their camaraderie extended beyond public appearances, as they engaged in strategic discussions and coordinated efforts to rally regional parties around a common cause. This partnership was especially notable given the geographical and cultural distance between Andhra Pradesh and Delhi.

The alliance reached its zenith during the 'United India Rally' held in Kolkata in January 2019. Organised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the event brought together opposition leaders from various states, including Naidu and Kejriwal, to present a united front against the BJP. The rally served as a visual testament to the alignment of their interests and the potential power of a cohesive opposition.

However, the tides have turned dramatically since those days of joint rallies and shared platforms. Reacting sharply to the parties which didn't support the Delhi Services Bill, AAP MP Raghav Chadha said, “These parties (TDP, YSRCP) must have taken this decision under some compulsions... Those who will support this bill will be remembered as anti-national... We will fight to save the Constitution of India, We should also remember that if BJP succeeds in bringing this Bill in Delhi, they will also use it in other non-BJP states.”

While it is too early to say how the AAP and TDP would focus on issues in the future, it is obvious that Chandrababu Naidu's decision to not support Kejriwal in the Delhi Services BIll is bound to have strained their relationship.

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