The battle between Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has heated up further after Jung overruled an order of the AAP government removing principal secretary (services) Anindo Majumdar on the heels of the controversial appointment of Shakuntala Gamlin as acting chief secretary.
Jung’s decision on Majumdar came a day after he appointed senior IAS officer Gamlin as acting chief secretary, ignoring the Delhi government’s charge that she has close links with power distribution companies and had allegedly lobbied to promote the interests of some power companies.
Jung’s decision to overrule the order removing Majumdar was explained in an official statement that also dismissed allegations against him by AAP leaders, including one trying to carry out a “coup”.
“(Majumdar’s removal) does not have the approval of the Lt Governor, who is the Competent Authority to transfer officials of that rank. This order is ab-initio void,” the statement said.
On Saturday, Kejriwal wrote in a letter to the Lieutenant Governor that he was “aghast” at Jung’s “questionable instructions” issued directly to the services department for Gamlin’s appointment.
Kejriwal alleged in the letter that Jung had intimidated Gamlin to “act in concert” with him, The Indian Express reported. Kejriwal further said, “Whatever the political pressure, you have a duty to uphold.”
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who holds charge of the services department, said: “The BJP, through the LG of Delhi, has attempted a coup against the democratically elected government of Delhi with the highest ever mandate in the history of the state. This is for the first time that the LG is issuing direct instructions to officers, bypassing the chief minister and council of ministers.”
Kejriwal also referred to constitutional provisions covering such appointments in his letter.
“May I ask you to cite the relevant article in the Constitution of India or service rules that gives you extraordinary powers to bypass and attempt to render the democratically elected government ineffective?” he asked.
Kejriwal also tweeted about the alleged nexus between politicians, officers and private companies.
“My questions to Delhiites – should a person perceived to be very close to power companies be made CS of Delhi? Should elected CM have no say in selection? All over the country, huge nexus between politicians, officers and companies and in Delhi we are trying to break that nexus. That’s why whole system opposing.”
A detailed note prepared by power minister Satyendar Jain, which was leaked to the media on Saturday, referred to Gamlin’s alleged links with power companies.
“I wish to place on record the suspicion inviting actions of Shakuntala D Gamlin. Before the AAP government was formed in Delhi, she was appointed as principal secretary (power) by the Lieutenant Governor. Since the AAP government took over, she has been aggressively lobbying within the government to promote the interests of Reliance-owned power companies. Many such instances have come to light,” Jain said in his letter dated May 9.
The letter cited one instance where Gamlin allegedly tried to get a “letter of comfort” from the government.
“Reliance-owned power companies have applied for a loan of Rs 11,000 crore to Power Finance Corporation (PFC). She has been persistently pestering me to give some kind of guarantee to PFC in favour of Reliance-owned power companies,” the letter said.
“If the Delhi government were to sign such guarantee, the Delhi government would be liable to repay the loan if the companies defaulted any time in future. Going by her advice, if I had signed the guarantee letter, it would have exposed the people of Delhi to liability of Rs 11,000 crore. If Delhi government were called upon to pay this liability in case of loan default by Reliance in future, the rates in Delhi would have skyrocketed.”
On Saturday evening, Jung reacted to the allegations levelled against him by AAP leaders with the statement that said he had acted while “fully conscious” of his duties.
“The Lt Governor has acted fully conscious of his duties and responsibilities under the Constitution of India. Till date not a single action taken by the Lt Governor’s Secretariat is in non-conformity with the provisions of the Constitution. In the instant case, the Hon’ble Chief Minister was duly consulted on file and the relevant notesheet is in public domain. The delay on the part of the Hon’ble Chief Minister of over 40 hours necessitated a direction from the Lt Governor that orders be issued. It is a given that the office of the Chief Secretary cannot be left vacant,” the statement said.