New Delhi: As the central government made it clear on Friday that lt.governor will have the last word in posting and transferring of bureaucrats in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal made a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “trying to run” the state through the backdoor, back-stabbing people of Delhi and seeking to protect the corrupt.
In a hurriedly-convened press conference following the home ministry’s decree on the lt. governor’s powers, Kejriwal likened Modi to “London” and Lt.Governor Najeeb Jung to “viceroy.”
The home ministry notification came after days of intense wrangling between the Aam Aadmi Party government and Jung over transfer and posting of senior officials.
The notification, issued on Thursday and made public on Friday, states that the Delhi government “will have no executive power” with regard to “services” — a reference to Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) officers and some others.
It also takes away the power of the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB), which is under the Delhi government, to prosecute “officers, employees and functionaries” of the central government. Recently, the ACB had filed a case against a Delhi policeman for taking a bribe. This had led to a retaliation by the police which filed an FIR against unnamed officials for “kidnapping” the policemen.
The notification said that the “Lt. governor of National Capital Territory of Delhi shall in respect of matters connected with ‘public order’, ‘police’, ‘land’ and ‘services’… exercise the power and discharge functions of the central government.”
Kejriwal came hard down on the order and said it showed the nervousness of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the centre over the efforts of his government against corruption.
He alleged that Jung was just the face and the orders to him are coming from the Prime Minister’s Office. “Pre-independence, Queen of England used to send notifications to the viceroy here. Now, Jung sahab is the viceroy and the PMO is London,” he said.
Kejriwal said his government was taking views of constitutional experts on the notification and a decision will be taken soon.
Accompanied by his deputy Manish Sisodia, the chief minister alleged that money was changing hands for transfers earlier but has ended under the AAP government.
He also alleged that people from the Congress and the BJP failed to get contracts in Delhi and went to the PMO.
“BJP and the Congress want to have their own officers in Delhi and get government contracts for their own people. They want control over the transfer-posting industry,” Kejriwal said, adding that the central government has back-stabbed the city’s people.
He said Modi government was trying to run Delhi with three BJP MLAs through backdoor.
Referring to mention of the ACB in the notification, he asked who were the people Modi government was “trying to protect”.
Noting that his government has brought corruption down in its last three months and 36 officials have been arrested, Kejriwal said: “Now, the centre wants that if the ACB sees any sort of corruption by its central government employees, it should overlook it.”
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley however said that the “clarificatory notification” was to resolve disputes about powers of the elected government and the lt. governor.
“The home ministry circular (has been issued) so that no dispute remains. The reserved powers of the central government are exercised through the lt. governor. The clarificatory notification is about it so that there is no confusion.
“We do not want that offices are locked due to confusion,” Jaitley said, referring to the AAP government ordering locking of the office of a senior officer apparently for following orders of Jung for appointing Shakuntala Gamlin as acting chief secretary.
Gamlin’s appointment had turned into a major flash point in the confrontation between the ruling AAP and Jung with Kejriwal questioning the lt.governor’s authority.