A hostile tussle for the reins of the Capital reached the doors of President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday as lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung and chief minister ArvindKejriwal visited Rashtrapati Bhavan within four hours of each other over a series of contentious bureaucratic appointments.
Sources said Mukherjee gave both leaders a patient hearing as they submitted their notes to the President on the unprecedented stand-off and promptly sent the documents to home minister Rajnath Singh, who also met with Jung separately.
"We told the President the L-G is acting as if there is President's rule in Delhi. He is trying to rule the city just as he had done during the President's rule," deputy CM Manish Sisodia told reporters after the meeting.
Jung was reported to have described the logjam as a "constitutional crisis-like situation" and defended his stand in appointing Shakuntala D Gamlin as acting chief secretary, saying he was working in accordance with the Constitution.
Gamlin's appointment sparked off the showdown with the AAP accusing the L-G of attempting a "coup" and bypassing an elected government to get in officers of his choice.
"We accepted the L-G's decision to appoint acting chief secretary without consulting us. But he has been appointing officers bypassing city government. He is even threatening them with transfers if they do not follow his orders. It is not good for democracy," Sisodia said.
He also called a meeting of senior Delhi officers at 10am on Wednesday to reiterate the rules under which the city is governed.
The city has witnessed a crisis of governance over the past few days as Jung has repeatedly shot down decisions by the Aam Aadmi Party government , going as far as to override the CM's wishes in appointing the city's top bureaucrat.
But a defiant Delhi government has refused to back down, appointing Arvind Ray as the secretary of the general administration department in the place of Anindo Majumdar, who was removed by Kejriwal on Saturday for issuing Gamlin's appointment letter.
The national capital follows a complex governance pattern with key departments such as law and order under the L-G, who reports to the Union home ministry. This has been a persistent grievance of the AAP, which alleges the Centre is trying to run the Capital by proxy and wants the Kejriwal government to fail.
The Centre too spoke out on the issue with Union finance minister Arun Jaitley askingKejriwal to understand the responsibilities of governing the national capital. "People want governance and not controversy. So they (AAP) should understand their responsibilities and fulfil people's expectations," he said. The AAP hit back, saying the BJP had failed to understand Delhi and will disappear from the Capital in the future.
The CM, however, got a shot in the arm from senior Supreme Court lawyers Rajeev Dhawan and Indira Jaising, who said the crisis of governance had been created solely by the L-G.
The two warring sides had clashed afresh on Monday over the removal of Majumdar, who was locked out of his office and replaced by the CM's secretary, Rajendra Kumar as principal secretary (services), only to have the L-G declared the appointment void hours later.
This prompted an angry AAP government threaten to not comply with Jung's "unconstitutional" orders and complaining to the Prime Minister.