Repeated confrontations and public spats over administrative jurisdiction have been punctuated the relationship between the office of lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal ever since the Aam Aadmi Party came back to power in February 2015.
Senior politicians and bureaucrats, who have served Delhi for long, said that though differences existed between these two offices even during the previous Congress and BJP regimes, they never went beyond making headlines for a day or two.
Senior Congress and BJP leaders said the current crisis exists because the Aam Aadmi Party’s focus, unlike previous governments, is not solely governance.
“Unlike the current dispensation, we were able to get even contentious issues cleared by the L-G. It was only through discussions as at the core of it was governance. Rules have always favoured the L-G, but it never came to such a pass. Controversy broke out when the Delhi government wanted to transfer the sewerage system from the MCD to the Delhi Jal Board. The then L-G was appointed by the NDA government, but our government was able to sail through as we convinced the L-G,” said former Delhi minister and Congress veteran AK Walia.
Senior BJP leader and a minister in Madan Lal Khurana and Sahib Singh government, SP Ratwal, shared similar experiences when certain people friendly decisions were implemented by the BJP government, “irrespective of the laws in place”.
“The rules have remained same, with the L-G being the administrator. But that never affected the routine functioning of the BJP government as governance was at its core. (Former) Chief minister Madan Lal Khurana was able to prevail upon the Congress government’s at the Centre and in Haryana to get the bills for water supply from Yamuna waived off,” Ratwal said.
A senior bureaucrat, who has served in the L-G office too, recalled how a file on revising the circle rate led to a confrontation between then chief minister Sheila Dikshit and L-G Vijai Kapoor, who was appointed by the NDA government. “The matter was settled soon after the government was able to convince the L-G,” the official said.
AAP leaders, however, said while governance and delivery of electoral promises has been the sole target of the ruling party, the repeated confrontation between the Delhi government and L-G office is a result of “a vicious and revengeful style of Jung’s functioning”.
“It has been proved on several occasions that Jung was following the mandate of his political masters. His equation with the top AAP leadership and the government has had a marked difference when we were in power for 49 days and after we returned following the historic mandate,” an AAP functionary said.
Political analysts described the political slugfest as a clash of two personalities and interpretation of the same rules in their individual ways.
“The rules have never been interpreted word by word the way it has been done over the past two years. Both sides have given it deep meaning and rightfully so. The chief minister thinks he heads a popular government so his views should prevail. The L-G is right when he interprets that his view should prevail as he is the constitutional head. In that context, the acrimonious fallout is largely due to the clash of two personalities, more than anything else,” Sanjay Kumar of CSDS told HT.