New Delhi: The confrontation between the AAP government and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung escalated on Saturday over a fresh transfer while Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asked Jung “to remain within the confines of the constitution” over his order for posting the acting chief secretary.
Jung’s office said he had acted as per constitution and “delay” by over 40 hours by the chief minister had necessitated the orders concerning Shakuntala Gamlin as interim chief secretary, which had sparked of the whole row.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to “overthrow” the government through Jung but the party dismissed the allegation.
Even as Gamlin took charge on Saturday, the Delhi government transferred Principal Secretary, Services, Anindo Majumdar who issued the order of posting her as acting chief secretary. Jung’s office, however, said that the removal does not have his approval as he was the “competent authority to transfer officials of that rank” and the Delhi government order was “ab initio void.”
In a related development, Parimal Rai, who was backed by Kejriwal, declined to become acting chief secretary, noting that he respects the lt. governor’s directions.
Kejriwal, who has sought time to meet President Pranab Mukherjee over Gamlin’s posting, wrote a two-page, strongly-worded letter to Jung, saying he waa “simply aghast by your questionable instructions” issued directly to Majumdar to the post of an officer of “your choice” as the acting chief secretary.
“In doing so, you have bypassed the democratically-elected government,” he said.
Citing constitutional provisions and rules, he called upon Jung to “remain within the confines of the constitution and the laws relating to the government of NCT of Delhi”.
“Whatever the political pressures, you have a duty to uphold the constitution,” he said, also accusing Jung of “pushing hard” for Gamlin.
“Despite clear procedure, you have opted not to follow the law but have tried to takeover the government and the orders directly issued by principal secretary, services, who I believe was intimidated into acting in concert with you,” charged Kejriwal, terming it “a thinly disguised attempt to render the democratically elected government ineffective” and administer Delhi directly.
Noting his government had been hesitant in appointing Gamlin due reasons cited in a secret note from Power Minister Satyendra Jain, he said he “again strongly opposes her appointment and request you to kindly review the same”.
Jain’s note accused Gamlin of “aggressively lobbying” within the government to promote interests of some power companies.
Jung’s office had rubbished Kejriwal’s allegations and said the lt. governor had acted “fully conscious of his duties and responsibilities under the constitution”.
It said that Kejriwal was duly consulted on the file concerning appointment of acting chief secretary and relevant note sheet was in the public domain.
“The delay on the part of the chief minister of over 40 hours necessitated a direction from the lt.governor that orders be issued,” the release said, adding the office of chief secretary cannot be left vacant as the officer was required not just for normal work but for any emergency that may come up.
Meanwhile, Sisodia accused the BJP.
“In Delhi yesterday (Friday) the BJP made an attempt to overthrow the government through the the LG,” he tweeted.
He said the constitution says the lt. governor will talk to the minister concerned in case of differences on an issue and, if not satisfied, will write to the cabinet.
“If the issue is not resolved, he will write to the president. Whatever directions come from the president, he will tell it to the minister and not to an officer directly.”
BJP spokesman Nalin Kohli, however, rejected the AAP allegations as “baseless”.
“If there is a constitutional crisis created by the chief minister, it is mandatory for the Lt governor to resolve it,” he said.