New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt Governor Najeeb Jung today took their bitter fight to President Pranab Mukherjee and accused each other of violating the Constitution and overstepping their respective jurisdictions. Hours before Kejriwal met the President, Jung, in a sudden turn of events, called on Mukherjee and apprised him of the ongoing tussle over the appointments of key bureaucrats in the Delhi government with sources maintaining that it was a “constitutional crisis-like situation in Delhi”.
The Lt Governor has been maintaining that he has the power to appoint and transfer the bureaucrats and none of his actions has been “unconstitutional” as was being alleged by the AAP government.
Kejriwal, who was given an appointment by the President yesterday, met Mukherjee along with his deputy Manish Sisodia, who said “LG was functioning as if there is President’s Rule in the national capital and there is no elected government here.”
“Despite having a democratically elected government, he (LG) is bypassing the chief minister and ministers and issuing instructions to officers. He is even threatening them with transfers if they do not follow his orders. It is not good for democracy.
“We told the President that we accepted LG’s decision to appoint acting Chief Secretary even without consulting us. But after that too, he has been appointing officers bypassing the elected government. He is even interfering in the appointments of secretaries and directly ordering them. Then where is the
democracy,” Sisodia told reporters after meeting Mukherjee.
Earlier in the day, Jung had also met Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the issue and informed him about his stand-off with the AAP government. The tussle over appointment of Shakuntala Gamlin as acting chief secretary of Delhi had turned into a full-blown war between the AAP government and Jung with Kejriwal alleging that the LG was trying to take over the administration.
Despite Kejriwal’s strong opposition, Jung had appointed her to the post. Describing the meeting with Mukherjee as “good”, Sisodia said, “We have requested him (President) to ask him (L-G) to not do what he is doing. President listened to us carefully and I hope that he will look into this matter.”
“We told President that Lt Governor is acting as if there is President’s rule in Delhi. The main thing is that he is directing officers directly. In the last one week, he has directly ordered officers at least four times, bypassing chief minister, ministers, Council of ministers,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the AAP government appointed senior bureaucrat Arvind Ray as Principal Secretary of general administration department bypassing Jung. Significantly, the order to appoint Ray was issued by Rajendra Kumar in his capacity as Principal Secretary (Services) though his appointment to the post by AAP government was declared “void” by Jung yesterday.
The charge of general administration department as well as services department was given to Kumar after Aninda Majumdar was divested of both the responsibilities by the AAP government.
Majumdar was removed on Saturday after he issued an order notifying the appointment of Gamlin as acting chief secretary on Friday. The LG, on the same evening, had declared the order to transfer Majumdar “void”.
Yesterday, Majumdar had found his office in Delhi Secretariat locked. Later the AAP government had appointed Kumar as Principal Secretary of services and general administration departments.
In its order today, the AAP government said Ray has been appointed as Principal Secretary in place of Kumar. Earlier this year, AAP government had removed Ray as Principal Secretary of the home department and had not assigned him any work since then.