Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung on Sunday instructed officials to not follow chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s order this week of sending all files to him, asking bureaucrats to not flout rules and sparking off a fresh struggle for the reins of the city government.
Jung’s terse response came after Kejriwal’s principal secretary wrote to all Delhi government officials on Thursday to “not bother the office of the lieutenant governor” with policy files, a demand that was termed irregular by former top bureaucrats.
“The role of the CM and the council of ministers is to aid and advise the L-G where the latter is entitled to act solely on his own discretion. All files relating to matters for which legislative assembly can make law should come to the L-G for final approval,” a statement by Jung’s office said, asking officers to follow the rules laid down by the Constitution.
The Delhi government, however, refused to comment on the letter that effectively overturned the CM’s directive.
The power struggle between Delhi’s top two began just 11 days after the Aam Aadmi Party government took over following a landslide victory.
Kejriwal wrote to the L-G asking for files related to police, public order and land to be routed through the chief minister’s office. All
three key departments are not under the CM.
“I am issuing necessary instructions to the home department and the land and building department to route files pertaining to matters connected with public order, police and land through chief minister’s office (CMO),” Kejriwal said, citing provisions in the transaction of business of the government of NCT of Delhi rules, 1993.
The demand was flatly refused, leading to heightened tensions between two of the Capital’s most powerful figures.
Jung and Kejriwal share a torrid history with the Delhi CM often accusing the L-G of siding with the BJP last year when the Capital was under President’s Rule. At one point, the AAP chief even alleged Jung was turning a blind eye to the saffron party’s attempts to poach legislators of his two-year-old outfit.
The two have been on a collision course since Kejriwal’s first term, when Jung criticised the AAP chief for sitting on a dharna that threatened the Republic Day parade last year.
As the national capital, Delhi’s government follows a complicated pattern.
Important departments such as law and order and police, in addition to crucial agencies such as the Delhi Development Authority, function under the Centre and are effectively headed by the L-G, who reports to the Union home ministry.
This has been Kejriwal’s big grouse, who rode to power promising direct control of the police and stricter vigilance on law and order, but has since blamed rising crime in the city on him not having complete control of the law enforcement agencies.
But former officials don’t agree with the CM and say the L-G is well within his rights to ask for all files related to policy matters – an area of responsibility delegated to him by the President.
“The principal secretary to the chief minister has no role in this. Since the CM’s office is not a separate department, he doesn’t have the powers to issue such a letter and this can’t be treated as a government order. If such an order is to be passed, it can be done by the chief secretary not the CM’s principal secretary,” said Omesh Saigal, former chief secretary of Delhi.