The Delhi government’s Budget for 2023-24 got a go ahead from the the Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday, and the decision has been conveyed to the administration, sources in the Lieutenant Governor’s office said.

This eases the pressure in the tussle between the Centre and Delhi government when the budget hit a road block. The Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had alleged that the Centre had “stopped” the Delhi budget presentation planned on Tuesday.

Unprecedented event

“It is the first time in the country’s 75-year history that a State budget has been stopped. Why are you angry with the people of Delhi. The people of Delhi urge you, with folded hands, to pass their Budget,” Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal had written earlier in the day.

The MHA in a late night official statement stated that the Delhi LG had raised certain concerns of administrative nature on the proposed budget keeping in view the fiscal interest of the National Capital Territory”. On that, the MHA had requested the Delhi government on March 17 to “resubmit the budget addressing these concerns for taking further action. The reply from the GNCT (Government of National Capital Territory) is awaited for last four days”.

The ministry, as per its official statement, had urged the Delhi government to submit a reply immediately for the benefit of the people.

Issue at hand

Dubbing the Centre’s objection as goondagardi, the AAP said the allocation on advertisements were not raised and remained the same as last year. Of the ₹78,800-crore budget of Delhi, ₹22,000 crore was earmarked for infrastructure spending and another ₹550 crore on advertisements, the AAP clarified.

The LG’s office, meanwhile, stressed that the MHA’s concerns with “certain observations” were communicated in time to the Delhi government on March 9. The Delhi government asked the Centre for President’s mandatory approval of the budget after it was returned by the MHA. The LG office is waiting to hear from the UT.

Delhi finance minister Kailash Gahlot charged late last evening that the March 17 letter of the MHA was not shared by the Delhi Chief Secretary. “For mysterious reasons, the Chief Secretary of Delhi kept the letter hidden for three days. I learned about the letter only at 2 pm today,” Gahlot claimed.

He said, he got the Budget proposal file at 6 pm on Monday and in three hours time, he had replied to the MHA’s concerns “and submitted the file back to Delhi’s LG”. “The role of the Chief Secretary and Finance Secretary of Delhi in delaying Delhi’s budget ought to be investigated,” Gahlot said.