It is "sad and unfortunate" that Delhi's Budget was stalled by the Centre, party leader Dilip Pandey said while addressing a press conference, hours after the ministry approved the Budget
The Aam Aadmi Party on Tuesday alleged that the Centre conspired to stall Delhi's Budget and said March 21 was a "black day" as an elected government was "prevented" from presenting it in assembly on its scheduled day.
The presentation of the 2023-24 Budget, which was scheduled for Tuesday, was put on hold by the Union home ministry as it sought a clarification from the Delhi government on its allocations under different heads.
It is "sad and unfortunate" that Delhi's Budget was stalled by the Centre, party leader Dilip Pandey said while addressing a press conference, hours after the ministry approved the Budget.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said that an elected government was "prevented" from presenting its Budget in the assembly. "Today is a black day. An elected government was not allowed to present the Budget in the assembly. It never happened in the history of India. The beauty of democracy is that everybody is answerable," he said.
"Its been 10 days, the Delhi Budget was with the Centre. They did not act for the last 10 days. They knew that if they want to stop the budget from being presented, they need to do something at the 11th hour," Pandey said.
Claiming that the Centre instead of sending the file back to the Arvind Kejriwal government, forwarded it to the chief secretary, he said this action has "shaken" the roots of India's democratic systems.
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"We claim that India is the biggest democracy in the world... world's most vibrant democratic system. The reason for this claim is that the roots of democratic values are very deep," Pandey said.
"The Centre today has tried to dig out the strong roots of democracy. The news is being planted from the Raj Niwas (residence of the Lt Governor). The news is being planted. Useless reasons are being used," he said.
In the assembly on Tuesday, Chief Minister Kejriwal said, "The budget had to be presented today. The Centre stopped it. We replied to (Ministry of Home Affairs) MHA's query without making any changes to the budget and they have approved it now. They wanted me to bow down. It's their ego and nothing else."
Earlier, AAP national spokesperson and Delhi Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said it was utterly "shameful" that the Budget had been stopped. "This is making a joke of us in front of the entire world. It is shameful that the Centre is stopping the Budget of a small state," he said.
Bharadwaj said the MHA had expressed some concerns on the Delhi government's Budget and refused to grant its approval in a letter sent to the chief secretary on March 17.
"He sat on it for three days. This is bigger than any anti-national activity. This should be investigated. The Centre is behind this conspiracy and the budget is being delayed at its behest," he alleged.
The senior AAP leader said the budget is a sacrosanct document and a secret exercise. "How can a 'babu' sitting at the Centre question the expenditure of the government," he asked.
Sources in the Lt Governor's office accused Kejriwal, his ministers and the AAP of deliberately making false statements with the sole purpose of misleading the people of Delhi and the media, and distracting them from the failures of the AAP government.
"He has been saying that the Centre has blocked a 'State's' Budget. This is patently false. Delhi is a Union Territory and not a State and therefore it is fully a part and parcel of the Government of India. Moreover, the Budget has not been blocked," said a source at the LG office.
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