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AAP has to find a way to ensure governance and not get stuck in a gridlock with the Centre

In the AAP-bureaucracy face-off, none of the stakeholders showed any demonstrated intent to avert frequent stalemates

editorials Updated: Feb 21, 2018 18:17 IST
Aam Aadmi Party,AAP,Chief Secretary
A file picture of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (PTI)

The confrontation between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and the bureaucracy in Delhi could not have got uglier. Possibly for the first time, a chief secretary, the top bureaucrat in a state government, has accused lawmakers of assault. The MLAs concerned and the deputy CM have denied the charges and several AAP members have lodged their own set of complaints against the chief secretary. While the jury is still out on the allegations and counter-allegations, the AAP and the bureaucracy have a long history of similar altercations. Within three months of the formation of this government in 2015, the chief minister’s office openly opposed the appointment of an acting chief secretary by the Lieutenant Governor. The incumbent chief secretary’s predecessor was last year accused of not following the chief minister’s order to re-examine the metro fare hike and skipping important meetings.

The AAP government also had an open confrontation with at least another half a dozen IAS officers heading several important departments. More than 200 officials had proceeded on mass leave when two civil servants were suspended in December 2015. The Union Home ministry then revoked the suspension on jurisdiction issues, further deepening the ever-expanding chasm between the state government and the L-G’s office. Admittedly, there is an inherent problem in the overlapping power-sharing structure of the Delhi administration between an elected government and the LG’s office. This contradiction played out in the past as well but more often than not the adversaries — former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and former Home Minister LK Advani, for example — succeeded in maintaining a civil, working relationship so that their differences never got out of hand or brought governance to a standstill.

These are different times and so are the two governments at the helm in Delhi. The fierce political rivalry between the two parties in power at the Centre and the state has long descended into bitter public acrimony, which perhaps makes climbing down over any issue difficult. The bureaucracy, for the most part, is caught between the two sparring rivals. In this face-off, what has been baffling is that none of the stakeholders showed any intent to avert stalemates. It was a matter of time before things got to where they are now. The image that AAP complains too much is not helping the party or the people who voted it to power. Ultimately, it is for AAP to find a way to run the Delhi government.

First Published: Feb 21, 2018 18:17 IST