Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday threatened to take his fight against lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung all the way to the Prime Minister as the warring sides clashed yet again over a fresh bureaucratic appointment.
The CM is also scheduled to meet President Pranab Mukherjee and apprise him of the matter at 6pm on Tuesday.
Two days after it removed principal secretary (services) Anindo Majumdar, only to have Jung declare the order void, the AAP government locked the senior official out of his office and replaced him with the CM’s secretary, Rajendra Kumar.
The L-G ruled Kumar’s appointment void too, saying it didn’t have his approval. This prompted a defiant government to issue a fresh letter to Jung, protesting against his “unconstitutional” orders and threatening to escalate the matter.
“Your directions are against the provisions of the law and the Constitution. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal will apprise Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the issue,” deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia wrote to the L-G.
Earlier, Jung wrote a terse letter of his own to the CM, dismissing the appointment of Kejriwal’s secretary as principal secretary (services).
The appointment was against established rules and procedure, the L-G said.
Kumar was to replace Anindo Majumdar, who had earned Kejriwal’s ire by issuing an appointment letter to acting chief secretary Shakuntala Doley Gamlin against the AAP chief’s wishes.
Gamlin’s appointment had started the big fight in the first place, with Kejriwal accusing Jung of bypassing an elected government to get in an officer of his choice.
“The decision to appoint a secretary can be taken by the concerned minister and the L-G has no role in it. The minister has decided to appoint Kumar for the post and it is up to Kumar whether he wants to work from that office or his existing office on the second floor,” said a Delhi government official.
Majumdar had no place to work from as he found his seventh-floor office in the Delhi secretariat locked on Monday morning, following directions from the CM’s office.
The tussle for Delhi’s reins began within days of Kejriwal assuming power in February after the CM instructed officials to route all policy files through him and not the L-G, only to be promptly rejected by Jung.
The latest confrontation started with Kejriwal protesting Gamlin’s appointment as acting chief secretary, accusing the IAS officer of favouring power companies and alleging that the Modi government wanted the AAP to fail.
Earlier in the day, Gamlin met Union home secretary LC Goyal. The meeting was also attended by Delhi Police commissioner BS Bassi and home ministry’s joint secretary (Union Territory) Rakesh Singh.
“The meeting took place to discuss departmental promotion matters of the Delhi police,” said an official. Despite repeated queries, Gamlin kept mum about the meeting as well as the controversy surrounding her appointment.
The CM also issued orders saying any instructions from the L-G, written or verbal, should be routed through the concerned minister and the CM, in order to ensure bureaucrats don’t bypass the AAP government.