Last weekend Prime Minister Narendra Modi took out time from his busy schedule to inaugurate the six-lane Pragati Maidan underpass integrating Ring Road with the Outer Ring Road on the eastern periphery of the city. After missing six deadlines, the corridor project, which includes a 1.4-km-long tunnel under the Pragati Maidan and six underpasses — five of them on the busy Mathura Road, has been finally opened for vehicular movement.
While inaugurating the project, Modi was at pains to underline that the project built at a cost of Rs 920 crore was entirely funded by the Central Government, lest the competitive politics make the Arvind Kejriwal-led state government claim the credit for the project. This is the first major infrastructure addition to the city after the Commonwealth Games (CWG), which was held in 2010. Inauguration of projects like the Signature Bridge among others were only the completion of delayed CWG 2010 legacy projects.
PM’s subtle elucidation and the newly-appointed Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Vinai Kumar Saxena’s actions are clear indications of the fact that the Centre was now in no mood to pow-pow the state government. The suspension of an official posted in Delhi Chief Minister’s office later in the week on corruption charges, albeit during an earlier assignment, also concretizes the feeling that the Centre was only going to toughen its stand vis-a-vis the state government in the matters of governance of the national capital.
Arrest of Delhi Minister Satyender Jain by the Enforcement Directorate (ED)was the beginning of this new relationship. With Jain not getting any relief from the trial court, the Centre may be further emboldened to take on the state government irrespective of the results of Rajinder Nagar assembly seats by elections, which was won by AAP by a handsome margin.
To add to the woes of the state government, the L-G has given the Anti-Corruption Branch permission to investigate allegations of corruption against senior Public Works Department (PWD) officials in building seven temporary hospitals in Delhi. The PWD was headed by Jain till last month, when he was arrested by the ED in connection with the alleged money laundering case.
The state government has registered its protest against the sanction. City deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia claimed that though the AAP government was not afraid of any investigation but sanction of the probe was violation of the rules and procedures. The state government had also claimed that Saxena’s predecessor Anil Baijal had refused to give sanction of the probe. This claimonly further suggests the toughening of the stand by the Centreas regards to the Delhi Government.
The genesis of the toughening stand probably lies in certain actions of the Punjab Police soon after AAP came to power in the border state. Soon after winning the polls and formation of AAP government in Punjab, a police party was at the door steps of its dissident leader Kumar Vishwas in Delhi-NCR. Thereafter, they arrested BJP’s known social media activist Tejender Bagga from his Delhi residence, however, the Punjab Police party was ‘waylaid’ in Haryana and Bagga ‘rescued’.Publicity and freebies sans governance has been the hallmark of Kejriwal’s reign in the national capital.
They were comfortable as long as the Centre decided to take it in their stride. Given the dominating role of Centre in the governance of the national capital, and with the L-G breathing down his neck, Kejriwal would find ‘restricted’ governance becoming routine.To add to this with Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the unified-Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) being fully activated as ‘service-provider’, the state government in coming times would lose more turf to the Centre. Let’s see how it all unfolds.
Author and president, Centre for Reforms,
Development & Justice