Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has cancelled the allotment of office space to the Aam Aadmi Party on DDU Marg near ITO by the Arvind Kejriwal government, a development that could lead to another round of confrontation between the Delhi government and the L-G office.
While the development invoked sharp criticism from AAP leaders, L-G office sources said the decision was taken in the light of a report by the three-member Shunglu committee that red-flagged the decision because the lieutenant governor’s approval was not taken despite land being a reserved subject under the Centre’s purview.
Officials said the decision was taken after receiving a written observation from the Public Works Department, which had allotted 206, Rouse Avenue on DDU Marg to the ruling party to set up its office on January 20 last year, that the “allotment was done in violation of the rules”.
“The concerned department will follow the procedure to get the office vacated as per the rules,” an official said.
AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal said at a rally in Nangloi: “L-G sahib and BJP has put a lock at AAP office. They want to close our office. They even got CBI to raid my office (at the Delhi Secretariat). In this country, they have found only one corrupt person. That’s me. But they could only find four mufflers in the (CBI) raid.”
PWD sources said in such cases the department serves a notice to the occupant to vacate the property in a specified time frame.
“If the occupants wants to extend their stay, they need to furnish rent,” an official said.
The development could lead to further straining of relations between the AAP government and the L-G office, which have shared a bitter relationship over administrative jurisdiction. While there has been a relative lull in the stormy relationship after Baijal took over from Najeeb Jung, two back-to-back decisions by the L-G office to strike down the AAP government’s decisions could reignite the confrontation.
Last month, in the first open disagreement with the AAP dispensation, Baijal rejected the government’s decision to give ₹1 crore compensation to the family of ex-serviceman Ram Kishen Grewal, who committed suicide over the one-rank, one-pension issue last year.
Responding to the development, AAP leader Sanjay Singh said the decision smacked of “discrimination” against the ruling party that came to power with a historic mandate in Delhi.
“Every party, big or small, has been allotted office space in Delhi. Then why are they singling out @AamAadmiParty? Doesn’t a party with 67 MLAs deserve an office space? Are there two sets of laws? One for AAP and another for BJP, Congress, etc,” AAP leader Ashish Khetan said in a series of tweets.
The single-storey four-bedroom house with a huge garden, from where the AAP has been operating since January 25 last year, is located opposite the Delhi Congress office. Before it was allotted to the AAP, the property was earmarked to former Delhi ministers. The Shunglu committee had raised questions on the allotment as no approval was taken from the L-G.
“On 08.10.2015 Chief Secretary circulated a decision of the Cabinet approving allotment of land to political parties for construction of offices. The Cabinet feels that there is an elected Government in National Capital Territory of Delhi and it has the prerogative to frame its own guidelines to allot land, to the political parties having their representation in Delhi Legislative Assembly...
“Since Land is a reserved subject this decision should be deemed null and void. It is clear that this decision to allot land to political parties was really to validate allotment of government accommodation to AAP and nothing more because it is common ground that the elected government does not have any power to deal with the subject of land, let alone allot it. Therefore, to house the office of AAP the only choice was to allot government residential accommodation,” the report read.