Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal warned bureaucrats against playing politics, saying they could resign and turn to politics if they wished but cautioned them from impeding the government’s functioning.
Inviting administrators to be a part of his “honest, transparent and good governance” system, Kejriwal also sounded a warning to those unwilling to work for the people.
“If any officer wants to do politics then resign and please come to the election battlefield. We will fight in the open. But if you do politics as a bureaucrat, we know how to deal with it,” he said, addressing bureaucrats at the Delhi Secretariat on Civil Services Day on Tuesday.
A video of the speech has been uploaded on Youtube.
Kejriwal’s government has had several confrontations with its administrative arm given the division of functioning between the chief minister’s office and the lieutenant’s governor’s office.
Delhi witnessed the first major conflict between the political executive and the city bureaucracy when senior officers went on a day-long mass leave on December 31. The officers were protesting the suspension orders given to two officers of the Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service (DANICS). The special secretaries in the home department were accused of ‘insubordination’. The order was however overturned by the lieutenant governor’s office later.
Talking about the strike, Kejriwal said that it was the first time since 1947 that IAS officers had taken such a step. Citing from his own experience as a bureaucrat, he said when he had a problem, he could have the freedom to raise an objection, but ultimately did what was asked of him if his superiors insisted.
“If an additional or a special secretary says he will not abide by the cabinet decision, then the government cannot function. Most dharnas have been done by our party and we know about protests. If you want to protest against somebody, then talk to them and then give them in writing (your problem). If they do not agree, you give a warning, and then do dharna. Those officers went on strike without talking to us,” he said.
Stating that people were ‘happy with his government’, Kejriwal also told bureaucrats that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led government would likely stay in power for another decade given the ‘historic mandate’.
“The people of Delhi chose us. Fifty-five percent of people voted for us. Even Rajiv Gandhi had not managed to get so many votes. We are here to stay for 10-15 years. The officers should follow the AAP government’s mandate. If you have a problem, get yourself transferred to Central government or resign.”
“Unke pass koi chara nahin hai (They have no option).”
Urging that they work together, Kejriwal made it clear that focus should be on fulfilling “promises made to the electorates”.
“My government is fulfilling the aspirations of the people of Delhi. They have expressed faith in us by giving us massive and historic mandate. I would certainly expect from the bureaucracy to support the government with regard to implementing its policies and programmes,” he said.