Congress supports AAPs fight against Delhi ordinance ahead of Opposition meet
Venugopal hoped that the AAP will now participate in the upcoming meeting of the Opposition parties in Bengaluru. File photo

Congress supports AAP's fight against Delhi ordinance ahead of Opposition meet

The Congress on Sunday made it clear that it will not support the Centre’s ordinance on the control of administrative services in Delhi and will oppose any such attempt of the central government to “sabotage federalism” in the country.

Congress general secretary KC Venugopal said the party’s stand is clear as it will oppose any such move by the Centre to intervene in states ruled by Opposition parties through the governors and has decided to oppose the Delhi ordinance in Parliament whenever a Bill comes up.

“We are consistently opposing the attempts of the Union government to sabotage federalism. We are consistently opposing the attitude of the central government to run the Opposition states through the governors. Our stand is very clear, we are not going to support the Delhi ordinance,” he told PTI.

Also read: Oppn meet attendees rubbish AAP charges against Cong over Ordinance

Bid to sabotage federal system: Cong

Venugopal said the Congress usually convenes its parliamentary strategy committee meeting just before a session to decide on important matters coming up in Parliament. “Yesterday, we had a meeting and we already made the decision,” he said, when asked whether the Congress will support or oppose the Delhi ordinance.

“Not only the Delhi ordinance, any attempt to sabotage the federal system of the country and intervene in the state matters by using the governor, we are not going to support. The same way, on the Delhi ordinance also, we are not going to support. It is very clear,” he said.

With the Congress making its stand clear on the Delhi ordinance issue, Venugopal hoped that the AAP will now participate in the upcoming meeting of the Opposition parties in Bengaluru. “I think they are going to join the meeting tomorrow,” he said.

AAP hails move, but mum on Oppn meet

On the other hand, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said the Congress’ “unequivocal opposition” to the Delhi ordinance was “a positive development”. AAP MP and national spokesperson Raghav Chadha tweeted, “Congress announces its unequivocal opposition to the Delhi Ordinance. This is a positive development.”

The AAP, however, is yet to make it clear whether it will join the Opposition meeting. The party had earlier said it would join the meeting only if the Congress extended its support to the AAP in opposing the Delhi ordinance in Parliament.

In their first meeting in Patna, the Opposition parties resolved to take on the BJP unitedly in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP-led central government brought the ordinance on the transfer and posting of bureaucrats in Delhi in May, virtually negating a Supreme Court verdict giving the elected government in Delhi the control over services matter.

Also read: Ordinance row: Delhi, Punjab Congress leaders urge Kharge, Rahul not to back AAP

The ordinance seeks to set up a National Capital Civil Service Authority for the transfer of and disciplinary proceedings against Group-A officers from the DANICS cadre. Transfer and postings of all officers of the Delhi government were under the executive control of the lieutenant governor before the May 11 verdict of the apex court.

Tight ropewalk for Congress 

The decision to oppose the Centre’s ordinance wasn’t an easy one for the Congress, as the resistance from its colleagues in Punjab and Delhi presented a clear dilemma.

The AAP has grown electorally at the cost of the Congress in both Delhi and Punjab, where it came to occupy power by not just displacing Congress regimes but also eviscerating the party’s electoral footprint. Additionally, Kejriwal has been vicious in his criticism of the Congress and its first family, the Nehru-Gandhis, and continued to push for his party’s electoral expansion in states where the Congress was directly pitted against the BJP.

However, not opposing the ordinance would pit the Congress and the BJP on the same side of a raging debate on the vital issue of federalism; a touchy subject with most members of the Opposition bloc, particularly TMC, DMK, Left Front, JD (U) and the RJD, many of whom are existing allies of the Grand Old Party and have already endorsed Kejriwal’s campaign against the Bill.

Sources said the Congress high command, thus, decided that while it would oppose the controversial legislation on the floor of Parliament, it would continue to keep its distance with the AAP politically except when issues arise on which the broader Opposition bloc is united. “It is issue-based support and must not be seen as an indicator of any future alliance, electoral or otherwise, with the AAP,” a senior member of the party’s Parliament Strategy Group told The Federal.

Also read: Congress hints at opposing Delhi ordinance in Parliament

Earlier, following a meeting of the Congress’ Parliamentary Strategy Group on Saturday, the party’s chief whip in the Rajya Sabha, Jairam Ramesh, said, “The Congress has always fought against the Narendra Modi government’s assaults on the constitutional rights and responsibilities of democratically elected state governments. This assault comes directly and it comes indirectly through governors. The Congress party has fought against this in the past and will continue to fight against it in the future”.

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