Kejriwal-Jung tussle takes ugly turn

Our Bureau |agencies | | Updated on: Dec 06, 2021


Principal Secretary locked out of room in Delhi Secretariat in CM-Lt Governor turf war

High drama unfolded in the Delhi Secretariat on Monday morning, in continuation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s turf battle with the Centre over the appointment of acting Chief Secretary Shakuntala Gamlin.

Kejriwal has accused the Centre, through the offices of Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor (LG) Najeeb Jung, of excessive interference and high-handedness reflected in the appointment of Gamlin.

The Chief Minister has publicly opposed Gamlin’s appointment on the grounds that she allegedly tried to favour two Reliance Infra-owned power distribution companies through a ₹11,000-crore loan.

Despite Kejriwal’s strong opposition, Jung had appointed her to the post on Friday. On Saturday, Kejriwal asked her not to take charge of the post but she ignored his directive and followed the LG’s order.

Subsequently, at a public meeting on Sunday, Kejriwal accused the Narendra Modi government of wanting him to “fail”.

The latest episode in this continuing tussle was commotion in the Secretariat on Monday, when Principal Secretary (Services) Anindo Majumdar was locked out of his office. The senior bureaucrat was not permitted to enter his office as per a directive issued by the Chief Minister.

Majumdar had, following instructions from the LG in direct conflict with the Chief Minister’s expressed wishes, issued an order last week notifying the appointment of Gamlin as acting Chief Secretary.

Kejriwal promptly removed Majumdar from his post. Jung, on the same day, annulled the Chief Minister’s order, asserting that it did not have his approval.

The LG’s order was issued on Saturday evening and when Majumdar reached his office on Monday morning, he found that it has been locked as per a directive from the Chief Minister’s office.

On Monday, the CM appointed Rajendra Kumar, a senior bureaucrat known to be close to him, to Majumdar’s post.

Jung promptly shot off a letter to Kejriwal, declaring his posting “void”, and categorically made it clear that he is the final authority in the appointment and transfer of senior bureaucrats.

As the letter found its way to the media, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted: “Strange that a Constitutional Authority leaking letters addressed to Dy CM before it is received. Is it allowed under Constitution of India?”

Right to choose In this ongoing tussle, a majority of the opposition parties — including the Congress and the Left — and some former Chief Ministers such as Omar Abdullah, have sided with the Delhi Chief Minister.

They contend that Kejriwal should be allowed to choose his team of officers.

The Centre, however, has taken pot-shots at Kejriwal, with junior Minister in the Home Department Kiran Rijiju accusing him of bias towards officers from the North East.

Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, advised Kejriwal to treat bureaucrats with respect.

Published on May 18, 2015
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