A bitter tussle between the AAP and Centre heated up on Wednesday after the President-appointed lieutenant governor called himself the "government of Delhi" while the Arvind Kejriwal-led party accused the city's police of attempting to kill one of its leaders.
The latest flashpoint was a letter from lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung's office to the chief minister cancelling the appointment of Kejriwal associate Swati Maliwal as the city's women's panel chief on the grounds that the AAP government did not take the L-G's approval before the move and it lacked "legal sanctity".
"In respect to the NCT (national capital territory) of Delhi the Government means the Lieutenant Governor of the NCT of Delhi appointed by the President under Article 239 and designated as such under Article 239 AA of the Constitution," the letter said.
“As the notification in question has been issued without the Lt. Governor’s approval, the competent authority, in breach of rules and procedures, the notification has no legal sanctity and any action taken by the chairperson or any member of the Commission, including quasi-judicial decisions, would be ultra vires and infructuous,” the letter said.
According to Maliwal, the L-G called her up on Wednesday evening asking her to not report to office on Thursday and return all files related to the commission.“The L-G called my office and I was informed that I wasn’t to sign any files or documents. The message was very clear that I shouldn’t be in office tomorrow,” Maliwal told Hindustan Times.
The L-G office, however, denied the allegation and said no call was made either to Maliwal or her office.
A home ministry notification this year gave the lieutenant governor the discretion to decide if the chief minister should be consulted before making an appointment or transfer and while penalising civil servants.
The battle stems from Delhi’s unique position as a union territory doubling as the Capital where both the L-G and police department report to the central home ministry and the local government has no say over several important departments.
The Kejriwal-led AAP, which romped to power winning 67 of the 70 seats in the February assembly election in, has been at loggerheads with Jung after he appointed several senior bureaucrats against the wishes of the chief minister and overruled many Delhi government picks.
Delhi's ruling party also threatened on Wednesday to launch a mass protest against the city's police, accusing the department of an "attempt to mow down" the AAP's city unit convenor Dilip Pandey with a van.
Senior party leaders met the L-G to discuss the issue after Pandey said a vehicle of the law enforcement agency tried to run him over outside the Rajinder Nagar police station on Tuesday night where AAP volunteers were detained for protesting against the department's alleged sloppiness in probing a young woman's murder.
"There was an attempt to kill me last night by (Narendra) Modiji's police. We will not be bogged down. This is not Gujarat. We will take this battle to the streets," Pandey said after party leaders met Kejriwal at his residence.
A minute-long video on YouTube and Twitter shows the van driving past Pandey and AAP volunteers while he was talking to reporters. Seconds later, some people are seen stopping the vehicle and thrashing the driver before he was rescued by a handful of officers.
Delhi Police chief BS Bassi rubbished the allegations and said the department was not prejudiced against anyone.
"For the first time in my career, I have come across such an allegation," he told the media. "We'll look into the complaint. The AAP should not be afraid or get paranoid."
AAP leaders said Jung promised action in the case and they were also slated to meet commissioner Bassi to examine the matter.
(With agency inputs.)