By Gaurav Sharma
The Delhi turf war, involving Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is reaching its crescendo with the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) knocking the doors of President Pranab Mukherjee, hours before the CM was scheduled to meet the President.
After making a visit to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the L-G met the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and discussed the stand-off that has rocked the executive.
For the past few days, Jung and Kejriwal, the city’s top two authorities have been locked in a bitter confrontation over the appointment of senior bureaucrats, with the Aam Aam Party not shying away from accusing Jung of bypassing an elected government in its ‘rightful’ attempt to place officers of its choice.
The heated battle was reignited after Principal Secretary Anindo Majumdar was removed from office and replaced by CM’s Secretary Rajendra Kumar. Hours later, the new appointment was declared as void by the L-G.
Subsequently, a red-faced AAP government threatened to not comply with the “unconstitutional” orders and intended on speaking with the President. Some TV reports suggested that Kejriwal had appointed Arvind Ray general administration department secretary, in place of Majumdar.
“Your directions are against the provisions of the law and the Constitution. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal will apprise Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the issue,” deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia wrote to the L-G.
While the L-G refuses to budge from his position and maintains that he is the main authority in dealing with transfer and postings of senior bureaucrats, eminent lawyers back Kejriwal as the supreme authority in the matter.
Demolishing Jung’s claims, Senior advocate Indira Jaising observes, “There is no provision granting the L-G the power to act at his own discretion in the matter of appointment of the chief secretary.”
Almost echoing Jaising’s views, Supreme Court lawyer Rajeev Dhawan says that Kejriwal has the ‘perfect right” to choose a chief secretary of his choice and the current crisis has been created by the L-G.
Others, however feel that the real reason behind the removal of Majumdar from office is the issuance of a letter of appointment to Shakuntala Doley Gamlin against the CM’s wishes.
Kejriwal went ahead and further accused Gamlin of favouring power companies, an allegation that has come under sharp criticism from Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, as being insulting to the people of North-East.
The confrontation, which has transfused into a full-blown war, has already seen the embarrassing lock-out of a senior IAS officer in Majumdar. It is a case in point of the dismal way in which bureaucrats are treated in the country.
When the honest bureaucrats who are the real architects behind the smooth functioning of the country as a well-oiled machine, are subjected to such deeply humiliating gestures, it speaks volumes about the dictatorial attitude that the political representatives espouse.
The Delhi turf war is but a ‘war of egos’ , in which the real work-horses of the administrative machinery are toyed with as mere puppets. Denigrating such high-ranking officials only serves to throttle the vibrant democracy that is India.