The infighting in AAP has not affected the performance of the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi, senior party leader and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said.
"It (infighting) is not happening in the government. No, not at all, it has no bearing on the performance of the government," Sisodia said on Saturday responding to questions about the internal rift in AAP.
The question was asked in the wake of recent controversies in the party and some leaders questioning Kejriwal’s style of functioning and the exit of founder members Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan from the party’s Public Affairs Committee.
Participating in a ’roundtable’ conference of five chief ministers at the India Today conclave, Sisodia also attacked the Centre, accusing it of engaging in "dadagiri" by taking away powers of the Delhi government.
"Delhi is the biggest victim of the central government’s dadagiri. We are not even allowed to pass laws. Delhi government can’t even transfer somebody unless the Centre gives its nod," he said.
The comments of the acting Delhi chief minister came against the backdrop AAP pushing the demand for full statehood of Delhi and complaining of central interference in some of its decisions. Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Kejriwal is at the moment in Bangalore undergoing naturopathy treatment.
Sisodia rued that while Delhi Development Authority, under the Centre, constructs flats, the state government has to face difficulties in obtaining land for constructing schools and hospitals for the dwellers of such flats.
"Delhi is a slave (of the Centre) unconstitutionally," he said.
The discussion saw a sharp divide between BJP and non-BJP Chief Ministers on issues like Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, Gujarat model of governance and devolution of powers and funds vis-a-vis the Centre and the states.
While the Chief Ministers of three BJP-ruled states Maharashtra, Haryana and Chhattisgarh, respectively, Devendra Fadnavis, ML Khattar and Raman Singh, hailed Modi’s steps like replacing Planning Commission with the Niti Aayog and giving more funds to the states from tax collections, Sisodia and Uttarakhand’s Congress chief minister Harish Rawat said that in reality, state funds have shrunk.
Responding to questions about Modi government’s pitch of Team India and cooperative federalism, Rawat said that the question is "how much are the members of Team India being consulted".
He alleged that states were not consulted on a number of issues, including on "changes in funding pattern" and allocation of funds for those amongst them which have received special status.
Rawat also alleged that there is a "bigger discrimination" due to which strong states will benefit and the weaker ones will lag behind.
The discussion saw Sisodia strongly defending the AAP government’s decision to subsidise electricity and provide 700l of free water.
Fadnavis strongly defended his government’s decision to construct a Rs 500-crore statue of Shivaji, saying it will boost tourism.
Raman Singh vehemently rejected the contention that the north Indian states were slowing down the progress of the country and made a strong defence of his government’s rice scheme for the poor.
Fadnavis said there should be healthy competition between states to attract investment but it should not be like a India and Pakistan fight.
Raman Singh said in a lighter vein that he is also "learning a bit" of marketing after it was pointed out that after Gujarat and others, it was Chhattisgarh now which is focusing on marketing the state government’s achievements.
Rawat and Sisodia rejected the contention that the Gujarat model of governance was the ideal one. Uttarakhand Chief Minister said in this respect that he would prefer the model of government in Chhattisgarh led by Raman Singh than the Gujarat model, propagated by Narendra Modi before he became the Prime Minister.
Replying to a question on the absence of Kejriwal from Delhi, Sisodia said that right now he is the Chief Minister as Kejriwal has gone out and has issued a written order regarding the same.
"I am the acting Chief Minister. I have both the mike and the remote with me," Sisodia said when asked whether the remote control is somewhere else even when he is discharging the Chief Minister’s duties.
He added that he was concentrating all his energies on running the government in Kejriwal’s absence.