AAP’s dialogue with Delhi; Prelude to seek statehood

Rajat Kain

modi0kejriwalArvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party will be holding a mega public meeting in the heart of Delhi on Monday evening. Called as “Jan Samvad”, the session that will be held in the Central Park of Connaught Place is tipped to be an open cabinet meeting of the incumbent Delhi government where the members of general public is expected to chip in with suggestions and opinions. The government is also expected to propagate their performance of its first 100 days.

However, there is other side to this mega show.

The open dialogue session or the “Jan Samvaad” can be seen as a prelude to Delhi government’s move to demand the full statehood for Delhi. Already the Arvind Kejriwal led government had called for holding a special Assembly session on Wednesday and Thursday. The special session may see a fierce debate over the Home Ministry notification last week declaring Lieutenant Governor as the administrative head of Delhi when it comes to the matter of public order, police, services, land and transfers/posting of the officers. This notification was the result of over a week-long impasse between the AAP-led Delhi government and LG Najeeb Jung’s office on the issue of appointments, transfers and postings of the senior bureaucrats in Delhi.

The stalemate had intensified last Friday as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a press conference alleged that BJP-led Central government is interfering in the affairs of Delhi government through the office of LG Najeeb Jung.

“Modi government at the centre has back-stabbed the people of Delhi through this notification. BJP with its 3 MLAs wants to run the government which has 67 MLAs,” Arvind Kejriwal had alleged.

As per the stated position in the constitution, the state of Delhi may have its own elected government but subjects like police, law and order, land and the issues involving appointments, reinstatements, transfers and postings of the officers are done and dealt by the office of Lieutenant Governor.

It all began over the minor issue of appointing a stand-in Chief Secretary of Delhi after incumbent KK Sharma took a short leave for personal reasons. The temporary appointee Shakuntala Gamlin, who also holds the charge of Delhi’s Power Secretary, was opposed by the CM alleging her proximity with the power discoms. But the LG office went ahead appointing Ms Gamlin reasoning her proven record, integrity and seniority. The row then escalated further with CM Kejriwal removing Principal Secretary (Service) Anindo Majumdar for he had formalised Ms Gamlin’s appointment, a duty expected out of procedures. The LG, on the other hand, declared the orders to remove Majumdar void and in turn ordered his reinstatement.

But it took an unexpectedly ugly turn when Majumdar found his office in Delhi secretariat locked and himself replaced with CM’s Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar, an officer considered close to CM Arvind Kejriwal. The LG again stepped in to declare CM’s orders void and later issued a public release declaring his jurisdiction over every service matters in Delhi.

As the impasse between the two sides reached peak last week, they held separate meetings with President Pranab Mukherjee.

The President is yet to pronounce his opinion on the issue.