Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung flexed his administrative muscle on Wednesday, cancelling all bureaucratic appointments made by the Aam Aadmi Party government without consulting him in the past four days, deepening an unprecedented political stand-off in the Capital.
The L-G's move came hours after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, complaining against Jung's conduct. "In Delhi, (the) central government is trying to run (the) government unconstitutionally through the L-G. Let the Delhi government function independently," the AAP chief said.
The two men - who have a history of bitter confrontation - clashed afresh after Jungappointed IAS officer Shakuntala Doley Gamlin as acting chief secretary last week against the wishes of the CM. Since then, the stand-off has turned more hostile with each passing day, as the AAP and the L-G sparred over bureaucratic appointments, with Jungrepeatedly rejecting Kejriwal's nominees.
The Centre, however, refused to enter the spat as home minister Rajnath Singh -whomJung reports to - asked the duo to sit together and find a solution.
"I believe the L-G and the chief minister will definitely find a solution," Singh told reporters after meeting President Pranab Mukherjee, a day after both Kejriwal and Junglanded up at Rashtrapati Bhavan with their grievances.
Singh denied talking to Mukherjee about the showdown but sources said the home ministry sought the opinion of the attorney general. "I have been sounded out by the ministry and am examining the matter," attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told HT.
Jung had reportedly written to the CM on Tuesday, saying the AAP came to power with a political revolution and 'they must sit back and talk'. But with Kejriwal upping the ante,Jung dropped the conciliatory tone and asserted on Wednesday he was the sole authority in matters of ordering transfer and posting of officials.
In three separate letters, he cancelled all AAP appointments, including that of Rajendra Kumar as principal secretary (services) and Arvind Ray as principal secretary (general administration department). Both had replaced Anindo Majumdar, who was removed by Kejriwal on Saturday for issuing Gamlin's appointment letter.
The scramble for controlling the city stems from Delhi's complicated position as a union territory functioning as the Capital, because the state government has no power over a number of important departments and agencies that function under the L-G, who reports to the Union home ministry.
Jung reminded Kejriwal of this peculiar situation in his letter, saying the AAP was trying to "obfuscate the special position that Delhi has, as the national capital, which is significantly different from other states".
"Delhi is a union territory with a legislative assembly and not a state and therefore has important points of distinction," the L-G office said.
Jung's repeated rejection of AAP appointments had angered the Delhi government, with deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia saying on Monday that they wouldn't comply with any of the L-G's orders.
But Jung hit back in his letter, saying Sisodia was "fundamentally at variance with the Constitution" since service matters were assigned to the L-G under the powers delegated to him by the President. Meanwhile, the Delhi government also held a three-hour-long meeting with top officers to clarify any confusion about rules.