Arvind Kejriwal today wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to "not stall the Delhi Budget", after the latest clash between his government and the Centre erupted on Monday. The Centre, however, accused the Delhi Chief minister of "misrepresenting facts".
The Delhi Budget was reportedly cleared by Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena at around 10.30 pm last night, after a back-and-forth with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, and sent for President Droupadi Murmu's sign-off.
Sources in the Lieutenant Governor's office said the Delhi Budget was approved by the Home Ministry and "conveyed to the AAP government".
Arvind Kejriwal said the Budget was to be announced this morning and accused the Centre of blocking it, calling it "gundagardi (hooliganism)".
"It is the first time in the country's 75-year history that a state budget has been stopped. Why are you angry with the people of Delhi," Mr Kejriwal wrote in a letter to PM Modi.
"The people of Delhi urge you, with folded hands, to pass their Budget," he said.
His Finance Minister, Kailash Gahlot, said in the assembly, "There can be nothing more unconstitutional than stopping an elected government from presenting its Budget. The Centre knew it was listed for the 21st."
The Centre had asked the Kejriwal government to resend the Budget after addressing concerns flagged by the Lieutenant Governor.
The AAP government was asked to explain the high allocation to advertisements and the relatively low funds assigned to infrastructure and other development initiatives, according to sources.
AAP said the allocation on ads had not been raised and was the same as last year. In the ~CHECK~ 78,800-crore budget, 22,000 crore was assigned to infrastructure spending and ~CHECK~ 550 crore on advertisements, said Delhi's ruling party.
The Home Ministry, claimed sources, had waited for a reply from the Delhi government for four days.
Rebutting the Delhi government, the Lieutenant Governor's office said the Centre's queries were communicated to the Delhi government in time, with "certain observations", on March 9. The Delhi government then sent the budget proposals back for the President's "mandatory approval", said Mr Saxena's office. The Home Ministry wrote back to the Delhi government on March 17. "The LG Office is yet waiting for the file to be sent to it from the Chief Minister," the statement said last evening.
Kailash Gahlot, who took over as Delhi Finance Minister after Manish Sisodia's arrest, said the March 17 letter was "hidden" by the Delhi Chief Secretary and that he found out about the Centre's queries only on Monday afternoon. "For mysterious reasons, the Chief Secretary of Delhi kept the letter hidden for three days. I learned about the letter only at 2 pm on Monday," Mr Gahlot said. But the Budget papers finally came to him four hours later at 6 pm, he said. He sent it back to the Lieutenant Governor at 9 pm.
The Lieutenant Governor's office said it had received the file at 9:25 pm and had sent it back to the Chief Minister at 10:05 pm for "further action as per law".
Mr Gahlot said the file, received by the Delhi government at 10.30 pm, was sent back to the Centre for the final approval. "In the morning, I spoke again to the Principal Secretary, Finance. I was asked to submit the file to the Home Ministry," he said.