Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal ratcheted up the rhetoric on Thursday and lashed out at the lieutenant governor for rejecting an AAP nominee for the top job of a women's panel, saying Najeeb Jung's actions amounted to "blackmail".
In a letter to Jung, the Aam Aadmi Party chief said the LG was working at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to weaken the Delhi government. Kejriwal wrote the letter a day after Jung dismissed AAP nominee Swati Maliwal's appointment as chief of the Delhi Commission for Women as lacking legal sanctity.
"The LG says he himself is the Delhi government. How can one individual claim to be the 'government'? If that were the case, there would be dictatorship in Delhi. The 'Delhi government' stands for the elected government, not an individual," the letter said.
"The reality is the LG is not doing this on his own. He is doing all this at the instance of the PM. Even the home ministry is increasingly become helpless before the prime minister's office."
The strongly-worded letter came on a day Maliwal said she found her DCW office locked but was later opened though her nameplate was removed.
"I am not a DCW poster girl who will only work if she gets the top post, I will continue to work the way I have been working," the 30-year-old activist told reporters.
Kejriwal's letter said the smooth functioning of the DCW was crucial amid a spike in crimes against women in the city.
"The issue of DCW is very important and sensitive. For us, this is not an ego battle. I now pray with folded hands that you sign the file and get the DCW going," he added in a sarcastic tone.
On Wednesday, Maliwal had said the L-G called her up asking her to not report to office and return all files related to the commission but Jung's office denied all allegations.
The conflict stems from Delhi's unique position as the national capital, where several important departments such as police and law and order, in addition to key agencies such as the DDA, function under the LG, who reports to the Union home ministry.
The lack of control of the elected state government over these institutions makes them unaccountable to the people and is responsible for the rising crime in Delhi, says Kejriwal.
The latest flashpoint between the two was a letter from Jung's office to the chief minister saying his approval was not sought in the appointment of Maliwal, who is Kejriwal's close associate and the wife of senior AAP leader Naveen Jaihind.
The Kejriwal-led AAP flattened the opposition in the February polls but has been embroiled in a turf war with Jung after he appointed several senior bureaucrats against the wishes of the chief minister and overruled many Delhi government picks.
The protracted battle has adversely affected governance in the Capital, experts say, but Kejriwal -- a former revenue officer whose AAP was born out of massive anti-corruption protests - says the Centre was trying to run Delhi by proxy.