The tenure of Najeeb Jung as Delhi’s lieutenant governor was marred by frequent run-ins with the AAP government, led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
In a very public spat, Kejriwal and deputy CM Manish Sisodia blamed Jung for blocking Delhi’s development, while the L-G criticised them for overstepping their bounds. A three-member committee appointed by the L-G scrutinised all important decisions taken by the government, and often stuck them down, not always without reason.
As a new incumbent steps into the L-G office, the big question is: Can Anil Baijal and Kejriwal forge a working relationship on the key issues that face the national capital? It will be interesting to see if the tide can turn and the focus can shift from a battle of one-upmanship to development.
As a fresh battle for supremacy looms, HT outlines five key focus areas for Baijal:
The L-G had conducted review meetings with all agencies concerned (municipalities, DDA, PWD) after Delhi’s air quality became hazardous in the first week of November.
One-month plan: The new L-G will be expected to not only keep the momentum going, but also push for new measures to combat air pollution during review meetings.
One-year action plan: A policy on restriction of entry of diesel trucks from Delhi’s neighbouring states, revising parking rates and implementation of road vacuuming are some proposals the new L-G will need to look at. The promises of mist fountains and outdoor air purifiers in five high-pollution zones need to become a reality. After settling in, Baijal’s task will be to approve measures to ensure Delhi doesn’t choke during the next Diwali season. For this, he will have to work with the government to ensure fresh steps are taken in advance, and not on an emergency basis once it’s too late.
Three-year plan: Baijal will need to take up the issue of crop-burning issue up with neighbouring states.
One-month plan: The Kejriwal government planned to come up with 1,000 mohalla clinics by December, 2016. However, the government managed to start just 100 such clinics as part of a pilot project. The new L-G will have to clear the file for the remaining mohalla clinics.
One -year plan: The government has set a new deadline of March 2017 for mohalla clinics and the L-G will have to play a crucial role in meeting it. He will have to look after new hospital buildings that are supposed to come up. His other job will be to implement precautionary measures to prevent outbreak of seasonal diseases during the monsoon.
Three-year plan: Bringing modern medical equipment to government hospitals will be Baijal’s biggest long-term challenge.
One-month plan: Former L-G Najeeb Jung had returned a government proposal to make guest teachers, serving in government schools, permanent. Making guest teachers permanent is one of the most ambitious plans mooted by Sisodia. The government wants to give some relaxations, such as extra weightage in written tests for such teachers, based on their work experience. Jung had vetoed the idea, leaving the fate of 17,000 guest teachers hanging in balance. The new L-G will need to find a common ground with the government and give his nod to the proposal.
One-year plan: The Delhi government is trying to overhaul the education system and condition of government schools. The new L-G will have to provide them the support needed to making this possible.
Three-year plan: Some of the Delhi governments education bills, including the one doing away with management quota in nursery admissions and preventing private schools from arbitrarily increasing fees, are lying with the Centre. The L-G will have to act as a mediator to get these bills passed.
One-month plan: Baijal will need to clear files to improve the city’s public transportation system. The Kejriwal government had mooted a proposal for creation of dedicated bus lanes. The file was sent to Jung’s office, who suggested some changes. The government has sent the file back for the L-G’s approval.
One-year plan: Jung refused to give a go-ahead to the government’s ambitious ‘app-based premium bus service’ that was to be rolled out from June 1, 2016. The new L-G will have to consider the proposal and take a call on it.
Three-year plan: Purchasing buses must be a top priority to improve public transport. Baijal needs to prepare an action plan to double the city’s existing bus fleet.
5. Law and Order
One-month plan: The working of the current anti-corruption branch (ACB) has been affected by the spat between the L-G and the government. The new L-G will have to work on ending this conflict one way or the other.
One-year plan: The L-G will need to ensure the ACB is seen as an independent body, free of any political influence that works actively towards ending graft in government departments.
Three-year plan: Crimes against women remain the biggest challenge. The Delhi Police commissioner reports to the L-G, which is a sore point with the Delhi government. With this reporting structure unlikely to change, Baijal is expected to continue in Jung’s footsteps and hold two meetings a week with the police on crimes in the city.