A caustic war of letters over a clash for the reins of the Capital escalated on Friday after the lieutenant governor wrote to the chief minister saying Arvind Kejriwal’s frequent remarks against the Prime Minister were unsavoury and avoidable.
Najeeb Jung was responding to an acerbic letter by the CM in which Kejriwal alleged PM Narendra Modi was trying to rule Delhi by proxy through the LG and make the Delhi government fail.
"The tone of your letter leaves me deeply disappointed. Such inappropriate references vis-a-vis the PM do not reflect well on the chief minister of a union territory. Your letter leads to unsavoury and avoidable comments, not just within the country but also overseas," Jung said.
The LG also refused to sign a file confirming the appointment of Aam Aadmi Party nominee, Swati Maliwal, as the chief of the Delhi Commission for Women, saying it contained notifications that declare an AAP minister the appropriate authority to take decisions as “government” – a claim disputed by Jung.
“This needs to be rectified since it would not hold good in law and a fresh, revised notification needs to be prepared,” the four-page letter said. He also dismissed Maliwal’s charge that her office had been locked or files taken away.
“The legal position was conveyed to her in the best interest of the organisation and the government. The DCW is a quasi-judicial body and any infirmity in the appointment of the chairperson and members could nullify actions taken by them and leave us all in an embarrassing situation,” he added.
The latest war broke out over the LG rejecting Maliwal’s appointment as he was not consulted before the decision and saying his office was synonymous with the Delhi government under the rules, triggering allegations by Kejriwal that Jung was trying to blackmail the AAP administration.
"How can one individual claim to be the 'government'? If that were the case, there would be dictatorship in Delhi," the CM’s letter said.
But Jung clarified on Friday, saying Kejriwal had misunderstood the communication from the LG’s office.
“My office quoted the legally established definition of “Government” which reads ‘Government’ means the lieutenant governor of the NCT of Delhi appointed by the President,” the LG said.
He also hit out at Kejriwal for not routing files through the LG’s office, saying such decisions taken solely by the AAP government were contrary to law and established practice and could expose the government to legal challenge.
“All these files may please be sent to me urgently to accord ex post facto approval to avoid legal complications and to safeguard the government’s interest,” he added.
The appointment of top bureaucrats and approval of files have been two of the most contentious subjects in the six-month-old Delhi government. A string of AAP appointments have been reversed by the LG and Kejriwal has issued a standing order directing all officials to send files only to him and the cabinet, not to Jung’s office.
The fight is rooted in Delhi’s status as a national capital, which puts key departments such as law and order and services under the LG, who reports to the Union home ministry. This arrangement has miffed the AAP, which says the Centre is trying to rule the city through the LG and crippling the state government’s efforts.
But Jung’s letter also struck a conciliatory note, saying it was never his intent to negate the authority of an elected AAP government. “I have always agreed on your proposals on non-reserved subjects where the L-G is to act on the aid and advice of the CM and his council of ministers,” Jung said.
“I have always honoured your proposals on transfers/postings of officers. It has been my consistent endeavour to agree to all your requests in the spirit of democratic functioning and giving full respect to your wishes as chief minister.”