A hostile government at the Centre has been his biggest challenge since he came to power with a thumping majority 10 months ago, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday.
“It is not rocket science to govern. Everything is possible but it is the day-to-day interference that saps you,” Kejriwal said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Saturday evening.
The CM said Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung was creating hurdles in the smooth functioning of his government. “The L-G is sitting like a headmaster and saying I declare your order null and void,” he said.
The 10-month tenure of the AAP government so far has been marred by frequent run-ins with Jung amid a jurisdictional turf war between the CM and the Lieutenant Governor’s office over administrative matters such as appointments and postings of IAS officers, functioning of the anti-corruption branch, etc.
“Some of it (the problems) is political, some constitutional,” he said.
Asked whether the Swachh Delhi collaboration between the Centre and the state government represented a thaw in relations, Kejriwal said, “In our last meeting I told the PM, whatever your dreams are – Swachh Bharat, Skill Mission or Yoga – I will fulfil them but allow me the freedom to take decisions. The credit will go to you.”
On the PM’s response, Kejriwal said, “Woh kuch bolte hi nahi (he doesn’t say anything).”
Reminded of a common thread between him and the PM in terms of social media and radio use, Kejriwal said, “Woh apne mann ki baat karte hain aur main aapke mann ki baat karta hoon (he says what he feels while I say what you feel).”
He pointed out handicaps in his government’s handling of common people’s security for lack of control over the police.
“We wrote to the Delhi Police Commissioner seeking a list of beat constables and their jurisdiction to be put online but he said he doesn’t report to me and refused to share the list. The same SHO is posted in a police station for several years. We asked for the transfer policy of these officers, but in vain,” he said.
The CM said Delhi is not dependent on Central funding. “Delhi gives the Centre Rs 1.3 lakh crore as income tax and we get Rs 325 crore in return,” he said.
Giving reasons behind his decision to not head a department, Kejriwal said he handles the “politics of governance” while ministers govern.
“I handle external... foreign relations. However, I keep an eye on each minister. All my ministers have a fixed schedule on different days of the week when their work is reviewed. Every Monday, I sit with Manish Sisodia (deputy CM) for three hours,” he said.
So, has the AAP’s brute majority in the assembly stifled dissenting voices? “They have the loudest voice… that is why their images of being thrown out of the House by marshals get prominent display in the media,” Kejriwal said.
Defending the proposed salary hike for city legislators, Kejriwal said if the PM was paid less than what a Delhi MLA would get, he should get a raise, too. “The PM’s salary should also increase if it is less than Rs 1 lakh (per month). If he meets US President Obama and is asked his salary, it won’t look nice. It (salary) should be respectable.”