NEW DELHI, India: Anger, protests and universal condemnation marked the Opposition parties’ reaction to the Union Government’s decision to extend the terms of the Delhi Metropolitan Council and the Municipal Corporation Council and the Municipal Corporation by ‘one year.

The Opposition called it a “murderous attack on the democratic rights of the people” and urged the people to challenge such “unconstitutional” moves of the government. While the Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) at an emergency meeting late on Friday night charted out its program of struggle against the “anti-people” policy of the ruling party, the Janata Party announced its intention to challenge the promulgation of the “black ordinances” in the Delhi High Court. The Communist Party (Marxist) also called upon the people to launch a mass movement to express its views against it.

Interestingly, the Congress (I) preferred to remain silent on the extension of the two bodies but welcoming the appointment of the Sarkaria Commission “to have a fresh look at the administrative and municipal setup in Delhi”. The Delhi Pradesh Congress (I) Committee (DPCCC1) said it always stood for the formation of a legislative Assembly for Delhi and would plead the same before the commission.

The president of the Delhi unit of the BJP, Mr. Madan Lal Khurana said the postponement of the civic and Council elections were “an insult and blatant betrayal of the people by the ruling party”. He said the people of Delhi would have to bear the burden of “a callous incompetent and corrupt Congress (I) administration for another year”. Terming the appointment of the commission as a “drama”, Mr. Khurana said the action was unprecedented. He questioned the “dishonest” motives of the Government and said the commission could have been set up to go into the issue during the five year tenure of the present Metropolitan Council if the Centre was serious of holding the elections on time. He said the Congress (I) was not prepared to face the electorate as it had failed to deliver the goods.

The Jan Morcha leader, Mr. Arif Mohammad Khan said that the postponement of election to the Council and the Corporation posed “a warning” to the people of India who must prepare themselves to face this onslaught on their democratic rights.

Speaking informally to newsmen, Mr. Khan said that it was unfortunate that the Prime Minister had chosen to deny to Delhi citizens their democratic and constitutional rights and had sought to perpetuate an administrative setup which no longer reflected! The will of the people.

The Central Government had conceded defeat of the ruling party in Delhi by choosing not to face the electorate, Mr. Khan said.

“By this decision the ruling clique has shown their true colors that they would like to perpetuate their rule even against the will of the people and even at the cost of undoing the democratic setup”, the Jan Morcha leader said.

Mr. Viresh Pratap Chaudhry, Janata Party Chief of Delhi, said it had become evident that the ruling party would fight shy of facing the electorate following its convincing defeat in the Haryana Assembly polls.

He said the announcement did not come as a surprise in view of the Government’s dictatorial attitude.

Calling it a grievous blow to the norms of public conduct he said “democracy has been robbed of its meaning”.

He said such action was an attempt by the ruling party to save itself from an ingenious showing at the hosting.

Meanwhile, the DPCC1 in a Statement assisted that the party continued to enjoy the support of the people and said it was keen that the new setup should come into existence at the earliest. The party was confident to face the BJP and would defeat “them with the support of the people”, the statement said.

It said that the Congress (I) had made substantial progress in serving the people despite the severe limitation of multiply of authorities and not adequate authority in the hands of the elected representatives.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 8, 1988