Delhi’s governance crisis deepens as govt-officer standoff continues

With officers adamant that until CM Arvind Kejriwal apologises they will not attend any meeting after 5 pm and will not take any verbal order, Delhi’s governance crisis is only growing

Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

S Khurram Raza

The sword of dismissal is looming large over the Kejriwal Government after the face-off between bureaucracy and elected government. According to sources the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijal, has sent his report to MHA noting that there is a constitutional crisis in Delhi. On condition of anonymity, a former Chief Secretary says “The dismissal is totally a political decision but the situation and the report of the LG is ample enough to recommend the dismissal”.

With officers being adamant that until the CM apologises for the incident where Delhi’s Chief Secretary was allegedly manhandled at the CM’s residence by AAP MLAs, they will not attend any meeting after 5pm, will not take any verbal order, every communication should be in writing and will not allow any AAP volunteer to enter their room, the crisis is becoming bigger. Another senior bureaucrat, on condition of anonymity said, “This is the time when government should take a call and dismiss the government otherwise it will become difficult for government to function”. He further says, “The incident of assaulting has taken place in Delhi but if no action takes place, then it would be a direct message for the MLAs of other states that bureaucracy need this kind of treatment and that will be very bad for the governance”. A senior Congress leader says that “seeing the current corruption issues in which Modi government is embroiled, it may dismiss the government and make Kejriwal martyr”. He says, “the martyr image of Kejriwal may revive his diminishing political space and divide the opposition vote and help the BJP”.

“I believe that centre will not go for dismissal because it would make martyrs of the whole party, but surely with this kind of crisis, the centre would use all means to cripple the government and would wait for government to die its own death” says a senior journalist. According to sources, now all eyes are on Union government. But there could be another issue which would hamper the working of the government and that is the presentation of Delhi budget.

The budget is an important annual component of the state and if Chief Secretary does not attend the Cabinet to approve the budgetary provisions then it would send the wrong signal. The government sources say that budget will not be an issue as most of the work related to budget is over

According to sources, the Finance Secretary SN Sahai enjoys good rapport with the state government so budget will not be an issue.

On Monday night Chief Minister convened a meeting at his residence at midnight and it is alleged that the two MLAs assaulted the Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, during the meeting. The two MLAs who allegedly assaulted the CS had been sent to judicial custody for one day after the arrest. After this incident all the officers went on strike on Tuesday and it is alleged that they manhandled Minister Imran Husain, his secretary Himanshu and senior AAP leader Ashish Khetan. Now apart from IAS officer’s Association of Delhi, the officers’ association of several states have expressed solidarity with Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash.

There had been several occasions when officers have been abused by MLAs and Ministers of the Delhi Government. The Secretary, Information and Public Relations and Director of Information and Publicity Jaidev Sarangi had given a written complaint on 15-12-2017 against Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia for using abusive language against him in a meeting held on November 28, 2017. Sarangi has quoted Sisodia as saying “Sarangi tumhara jeena haram kar doonga”. This is not the only incident. According to reliable sources, former Chief Secretary Kutty was also abused several times.

NH image
NH image
A copy of the complaint written by Jayadev Sarangi, Secretary (I &PR), Delhi govt

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