Get us out of Delhi: Officials seek transfers as Kejriwal-Jung battle escalates

Caught in the crossfire between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, several government officials are lobbying hard  for central deputation or assignments in other states as they fear they will be persecuted by the Delhi government.

At least a dozen senior officers working with Delhi government are understood to have approached the Home Ministry to get postings outside, amidst the ongoing row over appointment of an acting Chief Secretary.

Sources said the officers of both IAS and DANICS (Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands) cadre are keen to get postings in any other place under the jurisdiction of the Union Territory cadre or in the central deputation.

The officers were apparently not being able to adjust with the style of functioning of the AAP government and hence wanted to leave the city administration.

Some of them have approached officials in the Home Ministry, which controls the UT cadre IAS and DANICS officers.

However, no formal communication has come from any of the officers, sources said.

Senior  IAS officer Amitabh Kant, currently the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) secretary, tweeted about how the current political face-off is impacting the morale of government officials.

As Firstpost's Akshaya Mishra points out, the spat between the Chief Minister and the Lieutenant Governor may be ugly, but it's likely to pay dividends for the national capital which has long been treated as a fiefdom of the Central government, which controls all key issues of local governance. But such long-term gain is unlikely to console Delhi state bureaucrats who are caught in the middle of a constitutional battle between the Chief Minister and Lieutenant Governor, both of whom happen to be their superior.

They said the stand-off between Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and AAP government over appointment of Shakuntala Gamlin as acting Chief Secretary had a negative impact on Delhi government’s bureaucracy that led to the development.

 Get us out of Delhi: Officials seek transfers as Kejriwal-Jung battle escalates

Delhi CM and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

The confrontation over Gamlin’s appointment as acting Chief Secretary turned into a full-blown war between ruling AAP and the Lieutenant Governor last week with Kejriwal alleging that Jung was trying to take over the administration.

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

Kejriwal, Jung meet Prez Pranab; accuse each other of violating Constitution

Both Jung and Kejriwal on Tuesday met President Pranab Mukherjee separately and apprised him about their respective side of the story. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused Jung of interfering in the working of his elected government and even threatening officials.

The Lt Governor has been maintaining that he has the power to appoint and transfer the bureaucrats and none of his actions has been "unconstitutional" as was being alleged by the AAP government. Kejriwal, who was given an appointment by the President yesterday, met Mukherjee along with his deputy Manish Sisodia, who said "LG was functioning as if there is President's Rule in the national capital and there is no elected government here.

Delhi govt calls meeting of all senior bureaucrats on Wednesday

Meanwhile Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has called a meeting with all senior bureaucrats  on 20 May in the backdrop of the turf war between Delhi government and Lt Governor Najeeb Jung.

"Sisodia will hold a meeting with all department heads, including Principal Secretaries and Secretaries, to discuss flow of work," sources said.

The Deputy CM will also cite the rules under which Delhi is administered and will ask officials to follow the government's directions, they added.

On Tuesday, the AAP government had issued an order signed by Kejriwal, asking the bureaucrats, including the Chief Secretary, to first consult the Chief Minister and other Ministers about any communication from the LG before acting on such directions.

"To ensure smooth functioning of day-to-day affairs of our government in accordance with the Constitution of India, the
government of NCT of Delhi Act and Transaction of Business of the Delhi government it is hereby ordered that any direction
or order, whether oral or written, received from honorable LG or his office to the Chief Secretary or any administrative
Secretary, shall first be submitted by the concerned administrative Secretary/Chief Secretary on the file to the Minister incharge and the Chief Minister for a decision," the order said.

Senior lawyers criticise Jung, say he has exceeded authority

Also, in a shot in the arm for the AAP, senior lawyers Indira Jaising and Rajeev Dhavan criticized Jung, with one of them saying he had exceeded his authority.

The two lawyers submitted their legal opinion to the Kejriwal government on its request following the tussle over the posting of Delhi bureaucrats.

In his written advice, Dhavan said: "It is abundantly clear that the Lt Governor has exceeded his authority and has turned the entire relationship between himself and the council of ministers on its head to jeopardise democracy and the constitution."

In her letter, Jaising said the political executive was "constitutionally empowered" to choose its own officers in accordance with the cadre.

"Who will be the chief secretary or any other secretary of the government is a matter in which the governor has to yield to the will of the political executive which has been democratically elected," she said.

BJP to Jung's rescue, Jaitley says Kejriwal has let down Delhi's voters

Soon after, the  Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stepped in, obliquiely in favour of Jung, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley saying the Kejriwal government had let down Delhi's voters.

"Primarily development works have to be expedited but the AAP government has instead chosen a path of confrontation," he told a BJP meeting.

AAP spokesman Ashutosh hit back, saying Jaitley, who "ran away" from Delhi to contest the Lok Sabha election from Punjab, was now insulting the people who voted for the AAP.

Earlier in the day AAP also bypassed Jung and appointed Arvind Ray as Principal Secy

Earlier in the day, the AAP government appointed senior bureaucrat Arvind Ray as Principal Secretary of general administration department bypassing Jung. Significantly, the order to appoint Ray was issued by Rajendra Kumar in his capacity as Principal Secretary (Services) though his appointment to the post by AAP government was declared "void" by Jung yesterday.

The charge of general administration department as well as services department was given to Kumar after Aninda Majumdar was divested of both the responsibilities by the AAP government.

Majumdar was removed on Saturday after he issued an order notifying the appointment of Gamlin as acting chief secretary on Friday. The LG, on the same evening, had declared the order to transfer Majumdar "void".

On Monday, Majumdar had found his office in Delhi Secretariat locked. Later the AAP government had appointed Kumar as Principal Secretary of services and general administration departments.

In its order on Tuesday, the AAP government said Ray has been appointed as Principal Secretary in place of Kumar.

Earlier this year, AAP government had removed Ray as Principal Secretary of the home department and had not assigned him any work since then.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: May 20, 2015 11:13:56 IST