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Delhi officials turn down offer for talks, demand action against CM, deputy CM

Bureaucrats say they want a ‘written and public’ apology from Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

delhi Updated: Feb 27, 2018 11:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
AAP govt,Bureaucracy,Delhi govt crisis
Senior bureaucrats Pooja Joshi and Sandeep Mishra during a press conference at the secretariat in New Delhi on Monday. The officials wore black bands to protest the alleged assault of Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakash by AAP leaders.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

Delhi bureaucrats on Monday turned down an invitation of dialogue by the AAP government to resolve the stalemate triggered by an alleged assault on the Chief Secretary and demanded action against the Chief Minister and his deputy, saying the attack took place in their presence.

The Joint Forum of the Delhi Government Employees made it clear that they will settle down for nothing short of a “written and public” apology by the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The officials have been at loggerheads with the government ever since some AAP MLAs allegedly assaulted Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash in a midnight meeting at CM’s residence on Monday.

The Delhi government had deputed minister Rajendra Pal Gautam to initiate a dialogue with the protesting officials and break the week-long standoff.

“The joint forum demands that the prerequisite to any dialogue with the political executive is a specific written and public apology from the CM and deputy CM. Communication between the political and permanent executive can only continue through formal written means and no talks are possible,” said Pooja Joshi, one of the members of the forum, an umbrella body of various employee associations of the Delhi government.

Joshi also said that the government officials will continue boycotting meetings of Kejriwal and his cabinet of ministers.

“The joint forum notes that instead of apologising and admitting their mistake, the CM and deputy CM are in denial mode. This shows that they were a part of the conspiracy and since they are specifically identified in the FIR, we appeal to L-G and the police commissioner (Amulya Patnaik) to take action as per law against them,” a resolution by the officers’ body said.

The Chief Secretary resumed work on Monday after four days. He came to office in the morning and later went to attend a meeting with Centre and then headed to lieutenant governor Anil Baijal’s office for another meeting. He returned to the secretariat around 5.30 pm. Government sources said that the CS is not likely to apply for a transfer to the Centre. It remains to be seen if the CS will attend Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.

Gautam said building trust was not the sole responsibility of political leadership.

“The government has taken an initiative to end the face-off. Now, the (agitating) officers should come forward in a bid to build trust and have a dialogue so that governance is not affected,” Gautam said.

The officers’ body also said that the political executive not only “failed to condemn or regret” the incident, but AAP MLA Naresh Balyan gave an open threat to “thrash” the officers in the presence of CM and yet Kejriwal did not condemn it.

“The joint forum resolves that all employees will continue their protest in the form of a five-minute silence at 1.30 pm (lunch time) in all government offices till such time a specific written and public apology is tendered by the chief minister and deputy chief minister, and steps are taken to ensure the personal safety and dignity of officers while they discharge their official duties,” the resolution issued by the forum stated.

The officers said they were working with “full vigour” and there is absolutely no hindrance to work.

First Published: Feb 26, 2018 23:39 IST