New Delhi: A simmering row between Delhi's AAP government and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung escalated on Tuesday after he challenged the government decision to appoint Bihar Police officials in the city's Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB), saying it was he who headed the anti-graft body.
Jung's assertion triggered a strong retaliation from the Aam Aadmi Party and its four-month-old government. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accused Jung of making a mockery of governance in the capital.
The lt.governor and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's government are locked in an ugly battle over the appointment and transfer of bureaucrats.
Sisodia said the AAP government had the full right to hire officials in the ACB. He accused Jung of working at the behest of the Narendra Modi-led central government.
Jung's office, reacting to a media report about the deployment of police officials from Bihar, had a different view.
The ACB, being a police station, functions under the authority, control and supervision of the lt. governor, a position that has also been clarified by the ministry of home affairs on May 21, an official release from Jung's office said.
The statement said no proposal on posting of police officials from outside Delhi had been received by Jung's office. Jung further said the he was not kept in the loop.
"The matter will be duly examined as and when the Lt. Governor receives the formal proposal from the Vigilance Department of the Delhi government," it added.
Sisodia said: "The Delhi government and the ACB have complete power to appoint police officers from anywhere across the country."
The AAP was more critical of Jung.
AAP spokesperson Sanjay Singh said: "We have officers here on deputation from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Is it a crime to get officers from Bihar?"
Party spokesman Ashutosh mocked at Jung. "It seems if (US President Barack) Obama is to probe something, he would have to take the Delhi LG's permission."
The May 21 order from the home ministry had also pruned the powers of the ACB, stating that it cannot act against central government employees.
The AAP government has challenged the decree in the Delhi High Court which gave its verdict in its favour. The centre went to the Supreme Court which has sought the Delhi government's response in three weeks.
A Delhi government official said that appointing officers in ACB was well within its ambit.
The Bharatiya Janata Party criticized the AAP government.
"Governance is a serious business. Please do it," BJP leader and central minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, referring to Kejriwal.