Kejriwal, Mamata meet in Delhi ahead of Bihar polls
New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee shared a stage here in a declaration of sorts of a joint front of non-NDA state governments. The message was clear -- disenchantment with the Narendra Modi-led central government. Both chief ministers said this meeting was just the beginning of putting in motion the implementation of a federal structure that was being impinged upon by the central government.
"Declaring (state government) orders null and void is not good... What is happening in Delhi and other states is not co-operative federalism. It is a danger," said Banerjee, while addressing the gathering at a city hotel, in an obvious reference to the ongoing Lieutenant Governor-CM spat in Delhi.
Speaking about her own state, Banerjee said decisions were being taken by the West Bengal governor, without informing her. "Security forces were requested by the governor from centre ahead of the West Bengal municipality elections, and I was not even told. Thanks to ministry of home affairs that informed me about the move. This is an example of running a parallel government which is not co-operative federalism," Banerjee asserted.
Speaking to IANS, Banerjee said: "You can expect something good to come out of this (meeting). We all will meet again very soon." Kejriwal pointed to the 30 orders of the Delhi government declared "null and void" by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung.
"This is the first time in 23 years (of Delhi government) that 30 orders have been struck down by the Lieutenant Governor. Intervention by the centre in state matters is not right." The meet was crucial given that the Bihar poll is less than a fortnight away.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar could not attend as he was busy with the assembly election, Kejriwal said. However, Delhi government sources said the idea of such a meeting of non-NDA chief ministers in Delhi was first suggested by Nitish Kumar.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar was also a part of the deliberations on co-operative federalism, but did not participate in the public address that was handled by Kejriwal and Banerjee.
Puducherry Chief Minister N. Rangaswamy and Mizoram Chief Minister Lalthanhawla were also expected to participate in the meet, but were not present due to prior work commitments. Kejriwal, however, told IANS: "It was a mistake to announce the date of the consultation in advance."
"We announced the date. That was a mistake. We should have consulted all the six chief ministers for a suitable time. Mizoram CM was busy with some finance work, but Puducherry CM has written a very strong letter of support to us," Kejriwal told IANS. Nitish Kumar and Lalthanhawla have also sent letters of support.
"You can expect something major out of this (meeting of CMs). Soon we will all meet again after the Bihar polls," Kejriwal told IANS when asked if this was a consolidation of a secular opposition in the country.
Kejriwal, however, said he had spoken to chief ministers of different parties including the Congress and extended an invitation for the meet.
But they could not attend because of various reasons from prior work commitments to "political compulsions", as Kejriwal put it. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat was also invited and was reportedly supposed to attend this meet. But government officials said he did not respond to the invite.