New Delhi, May 20 (IANS): The turf war between the AAP government and the Lt. Governor escalated on Wednesday, as Najeeb Jung cancelled all transfers and postings of bureaucrats done over the past five days by the Delhi government, and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing the Centre of trying to run his government by proxy.
The central government, however, distanced itself from the controversy, saying Kejriwal and Jung should meet to sort out their differences. Home Minister Rajnath Singh met President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday, but denied that the standoff came up in the meeting.
“The LG and the chief minister should sit together and find a solution,” Rajnath Singh told reporters after his meeting with the President. In his letter to Modi, Kejriwal asked the prime minister to let his democratically elected government “function independently”.
Official sources said Kejriwal accused the central government of trying to run the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government through Jung.
The letter came a day after Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia complained to the President that Jung was interfering in the working of the AAP government.
Earlier on Wednesday, Sisodia held a meeting with bureaucrats and told them that orders of the Delhi government should be followed.
“Sisodia told us that there was no trust deficit between the bureaucracy and political executive. By citing several articles of the Constitution, he tried to drive home the point that it were the orders of the Kejriwal government that should be followed,” an official, who attended the meeting, told.
Jung’s office issued a statement in the evening, making it clear that the Lt. Governor alone was competent to approve transfers and postings of principal secretary or secretary-level officers, in consultation with the chief minister.
Sources said Sisodia responded by asking the Lt. Governor as to which clauses of the Constitution give him the powers to give directives to the Delhi government.
The Raj Nivas statement said the Lt. Governor had received copies of orders and communication passed over the past few days which had a bearing on the transaction of business.
“These orders and communications have obfuscated the special position that Delhi has as the national capital, which is significantly different from other states. Delhi is a union territory with a legislative assembly and not a state, and therefore has important points of distinction,” the release said.
The release said the order issued by Sisodia on May 15 about the Delhi government’s supremacy in transfers and postings was “fundamentally at variance with the constitution since service matters are assigned to the Lt. Governor under the powers delegated to him by the President”.
“The Lt. Governor alone is competent to approve transfer and posting of principal secretary/secretary level officers, in consultation with the chief minister. This is so prescribed under order No. F. 57/3/94-S.I dated 09.04.1994, which holds even today,” it said.
Referring to Kejriwal’s order of May 17 in which senior officials were asked “to put up all files, including those in which the Lt. Governor has exclusive jurisdiction, through ministers”, the release said the Lt. Governor was required under the Constitution to act, in his discretion, in consultation with the chief minister where deemed necessary.
“The order of chief minister is in basic violation of this basic distinction.”
It also referred to the controversy surrounding the removal of Anindo Majumdar as principal secretary (Services).
“The Lt. Governor has reiterated the constitutional and rule position to the chief minister and conveyed that the situation and procedure prior to the issue of the letter dated 16.05.2015 shall continue,” it said.
The AAP government on Tuesday named Arvind Ray, an IAS officer removed by the Lt. Governor from the post of secretary (home), as the secretary (general administrative department).
The post of secretary (GAD) was earlier held by Majumdar, who was on Monday locked out of his office at the Delhi Secretariat on Kejriwal’s orders for following Jung’s fiat to appoint Shakuntala Gamlin as acting chief secretary on May 15.
It was Gamlin’s elevation which dramatically triggered the worst confrontation between Jung and the AAP government that had stormed to power in February.
Meanwhile, former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium on Wednesday said the Lt. Governor cannot overrule the state government’s decisions as this would “violate the constitutional scheme”.