Stalemate between CM and LG locks Delhi governance

Rajat Kain

kejriwal_aapIt doesn’t usually happen that a top bureaucrat finds himself debarred from going inside his office. But it happened in the national capital Delhi. Delhi government’s Principal Secretary of Services department Anindo Majumdar found his office at the Delhi Secretariat locked on Monday morning. His office has been sealed under the orders of Kejriwal-led Delhi government.

The Principal Secretary Anindo Majumdar was removed by the AAP government on Saturday afternoon as he had procedurally confirmed the appointment of Shakuntala Gamlin, current Power Secretary, to the position of Delhi’s Chief Secretary. But the orders of the Delhi government were declared void by the LG office, hence, reinstating Majumdar to his post on Saturday itself.

However, that wasn’t the only addition to an on-going stalemate between the CM Arvind Kejriwal and LG Najeeb Jung. Soon after the incident of locking Majumdar’s office, Delhi government replaced him with Rajender Kumar, a senior bureaucrat who is considered close to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. But the order to appoint Kumar as Principal Secretary (Services) too was declared void by the office of LG. In his letter to the government, Jung wrote that the orders to appoint Rajender Kumar were void as it did not have his approval.

Another escalation of sorts with Deputy CM Manish Sisodia tweeting “strange that a Constitutional Authority leaking letters addressed to Dy CM before it is received. Is it allowed under Constitution of India?”

The entire stalemate began last week with the temporary appointment of 1984-batch IAS officer Shakuntala Gamlin to the post of Delhi Chief Secretary as incumbent officer KK Sharma is out on a short leave for personal reasons. Arvind Kejriwal himself and his cabinet colleagues had lodged protest against Ms. Gamlin, alleging her proximity with the power discoms in Delhi. However, Lieutenant Governor Nejeeb Jung had cleared Shakuntala Gamlin’s appointment calling her “the senior most and an officer who has a proven track record.”

But the AAP government in its press statement accused the LG of interfering in the functioning of elected government, but the LG cited statutory provisions, conveying Kejriwal-led government that the latter is a constitutional head of Delhi. The episode wasn’t with its own share of bitter drama as Ms. Gamlin informed LG of getting interfering briefs from the Delhi CM Office asking her not to accept the position of Chief Secretary, even temporarily.

Arvind Kejriwal, his cabinet colleagues and his Aam Aadmi Party has been drawing criticism from the opposition for its style of functioning. Also, the BJP- led central government has defended the decisions taken by the LG.

“All appointments happen with full transparency. Everyone should show some respect to civil service officers, otherwise it affects other people as well,” said Jitender Singh, the MoS, Prime Minister’s Office.

Amid the rising confrontation with the Lieutenant Governor office, CM Kejriwal has written to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking an appointment with him.