Will Congress Back AAP Against Centre's Move On Delhi Officers? Party Says...

KC Venugopal tweeted, "The Party believes in the Rule of Law and at the same time does not condone unnecessary confrontation, political witch-hunt and campaigns based on lies against political opponents by any political party"

Arvind Kejriwal has started a huge outreach to Opposition parties.

New Delhi:

The Congress on Monday indicated that while it agrees in principle that the Centre's executive order on transfers and postings in Delhi is undermining the Supreme Court, they would prefer to take a collective decision on their stance on siding with Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party in parliament. KC Venugopal, the party's Organisational in-charge tweeted this evening that the party will "consult its state units & other like-minded parties on the same".

"The Party believes in the Rule of Law and at the same time does not condone unnecessary confrontation, political witch-hunt and campaigns based on lies against political opponents by any political party," he said in the tweet.

Sources earlier told NDTV that the party will support Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and oppose the Centre's executive order in the monsoon session of parliament, which begins in July. It would have been the first time that the party offered unsolicited support to AAP, with which it has been at loggerheads in Delhi.

On Sunday, senior Congress leader Ajay Maken advised Mr Kejriwal to follow the "Sheila Dikshit model" of engaging with officers respectfully, rather than "mistreating" them.

Sources, however, said the Central leaders are concerned about the BJP government's "undermining of the Supreme Court" and its "efforts to subvert democracy". The Ordinance, they said, brings the Chief Minister on par with the Chief Secretary, giving him one of three votes in a decision. This is also undermining of an elected government, they said.

The Ordinance, passed late on Friday evening, overrides a recent order of the Supreme Court -- which said the elected government is the boss of Delhi -- and makes the Lieutenant Governor the final arbiter of the issue.

The Congress had earlier welcomed the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court, which said in a democratic form of governance, the power of administration must rest on the elected arm. If the officers stop reporting to the ministers or do not abide by their directions, the principle of collective responsibility is affected, said the bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud.

The judgment came after an eight-year tussle between the Centre and the Arvind Kejriwal government, following the Centre's decision to place the Services department under the control of the Lieutenant Governor in 2015.

The Centre's Ordinance last week creates a National Capital Civil Services Authority, which is tasked with postings and transfers of bureaucrats serving in Delhi. The Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary and the Principal Home Secretary will be members who can vote on issues. The final arbiter is the Lieutenant Governor.

Mr Kejriwal has started a huge outreach to Opposition parties, starting with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar yesterday.

He is expected to meet Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar on May 24 and 25 in Mumbai to discuss the plan to block the Ordinance in the Rajya Sabha.

The bill on the matter is expected to reach parliament in the monsoon session and the BJP is confident that it will be passed in both houses. The current strength of Rajya Sabha is 238 and the majority mark is 119. Both NDA and the opposition currently have 110 seats.

In case of opposition from the Congress and other parties, a crucial role will be played by Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal and YS Jaganmohan Reddy's YSR Congress. Both have 9 seats each and prefer to remain equidistant from the Congress and the BJP. While they have lent issue-based support to the government in the past, it is not clear yet which way they will lean on this occasion.

Recently, Naveen Patnaik had made it clear that his party will not be part of the opposition front. The BJD, he said, will go it alone in the 2024 general elections and "that has always been the plan".