Delhi CM, FM allege that the Centre has stalled the budget, MHA says needs clarification on allocation for advertisement
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the office of the Delhi Lieutenant Governor dismissed allegations by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that the centre had stalled the budget on the eve of its presentation on Tuesday, March 21.
On Monday, March 20, MHA said it has ‘requested’ the Delhi government to resubmit the Delhi budget after the lieutenant governor (LG) raised concerns of an administrative nature.
“The Lieutenant Governor, Delhi, had raised certain concerns of an administrative nature on the proposed budget, keeping in view the fiscal interest of the National Capital Territory, on which MHA, vide its letter dated March 17, 2023, has requested the GNCTD to resubmit the budget addressing these concerns for further action”, the home ministry said.
The ministry also said that it has been waiting for the last four days for a reply from the Delhi government.
Earlier in the day, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal alleged that the Centre had stalled the Delhi government’s budget.
“You will be shocked to know about something that has happened for the first time in India’s history. Tomorrow, the Delhi government is presenting its budget before the Assembly. The Centre has stalled our budget this evening. The Delhi government’s employees, doctors and teachers won’t get their salaries tomorrow. It is hooliganism”, Kejriwal, who is also AAP convenor, said.
Delhi’s newly appointed Finance minister Kailash Gahlot also took to Twitter to blame the MHA for stalling the budget.
We have responded to MHA’s concerns and submitted the file back to Delhil’s LG, after CM’s approval, at 9pm today. It’s very clear that the concerns raised by MHA are irrelevant & seemingly done only to scuttle Delhi govt's budget for next year. Sad day for Indian democracy. 2/2 https://t.co/y17JecNeEY
— Kailash Gahlot (@kgahlot) March 20, 2023
“For the first time in India’s history, the MHA has stopped the Delhi government from presenting its annual budget for 2023–24 on its scheduled date, March 21, 2023. The budget was sent for MHA’s approval as per regular practice well in advance on March 10, 2023,” Gahlot said.
It is now learned that the MHA expressed some concerns about the Delhi government’s budget and refused to give it approval through a letter sent to the Chief Secretary on March 17, 2023, Gahlot said.
“For mysterious reasons, the Chief Secretary of Delhi kept the letter hidden for 3 days. I learned about the letter only at 2 pm today, i.e., March 20, 2023,” he said. “The file with the MHA’s letter was put up to me officially only at 6 pm today, i.e., just the day before the budget was to be presented in the Delhi Assembly. “Subsequently, we have responded to MHA’s concerns and submitted the file back to Delhi’s LG, after CM’s approval, at 9 pm today,” he added.
The role of the Chief Secretary and Finance Secretary of Delhi in delaying Delhi’s budget ought to be investigated, the minister said.
Refuting MHA’s queries, Gahlot said, “It is also unfortunate that MHA is spreading falsehoods about the Delhi government’s budget. Nearly 22,000 crores have been allocated for capital expenditure next year, whereas the allocation for advertisements is only ₹550 crore, which is similar to that of last year.”
“The concerns raised by MHA are irrelevant and seemingly done only to scuttle the budget for next year’s Delhi government,” he added.
Meanwhile, the office of the Delhi LG said that LG Vinai Kumar Saxena approved the annual financial statement for 2023–2024 with certain observations on March 9 and sent the file to the Chief Minister.
“The Government of Delhi, thereafter, sought the approval of the President (as mandated by Law), by sending a letter to the Home Ministry. The Home Ministry conveyed its observations to the Delhi Government on March 17,” LG said.
While the budget was to be presented on March 21, the LG Office is still waiting for the file to be sent to it from the Chief Minister, the LG Office said.