In a blow to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, its own general administration department (GAD) on Tuesday cancelled the appointments of nine party members working as advisors and consultants to the Delhi Cabinet on the advice of the Union home ministry. The order, which cited a home ministry letter, drew sharp criticism from the Delhi government’s political executive, which alleged that the move was aimed at derailing the “good work” done in the past three years. A spokesperson said the government will challenge the order in court.The April 10 letter cited by GAD said the posts held by the advisors are not in the list of posts approved for the ministers and the chief minister. The sacked officials include known faces of the AAP government, including Atishi Marlena, advisor to deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on education. Others include Raghav Chaddha, advisor (finance) to Sisodia and the minister’s media advisors Arunoday Prakash and Amardeep Tiwari.The removal of members such as Marlena and Chaddha, who have been AAP spokespersons and figureheads for the party’s campaigns, has come as another setback for chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and suggests that the ongoing tussle between his government, the Centre and the Lieutenant-Governor is set to escalate. Sisodia alleged that the move was a conspiracy by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government to paralyse the “education revolution” happening in the city. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to undermine the Delhi’s education system, that is why this order has been issued today. I am challenging BJP to find one state that it rules, where government schools have not been shut down. And here in Delhi, we are improving the education system,” he said.Standing firm in support of Marlena, who has worked with Sisodia on various education projects, the minister said, “Atishi has been instrumental in improving the standard of government schools and education system in the city.”Delhi government spokespersons said some of the appointees such as Chaddha had already stepped down from their posts and others like Atishi were drawing a salary of only R1.The home ministry letter said “no prior approval of the Central government has been taken for creation of said posts on which these persons have been appointed on co-terminus basis, which is a requirement as per MHA’s rules,” the order stated.It also stated that as per the rules of the home ministry, creation of posts, co-terminus or otherwise, comes under the “services” department, a subject which is under the Central government in Delhi.“Therefore, creation of posts by Delhi cabinet for accommodating these appointees is void ab-initio, being done by an agency not competent under the law to do so,” the letter said.Others sacked include Prashant Saxena and Samir Malhotra, who were appointed as consultants in departments like power, home, industries and health. Power and urban development minister Satyendar Jain’s close aides Rajat Tiwari and Dinkar Adeeb were also removed from their posts. Ram Kumar Jha, advisor (logistics) in the GAD which is under minister Gopal Rai, was also sacked.