Delhi CM Kejriwal calls LG Jung's remarks 'laughable' as row over DCW office worsens

The national capital once again saw a fresh and bitter row erupt between the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) Najeeb Jung, this time over the appointment of Swati Maliwal as the chief of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW).

On one hand, the AAP government on Thursday sent Jung a file on the appointment of Maliwal as DCW chief, two days after he struck down its decision for not taking his approval on the matter.

 Delhi CM Kejriwal calls LG Jungs remarks laughable as row over DCW office worsens

Delhi L-G Najeeb Jung (left) and CM Arvind Kejriwal. Reuters

On the other hand, Kejriwal sent a terse letter to Jung in which he strongly criticised Jung for his remarks on the DCW chief appointment, saying that it was "laughable" that "the L-G says he is the government of Delhi."

Going by the bitterness of the Delhi CM's words in his letter, it seems Delhi is again in the middle of a political battle which will in all likelihood only get worse in the days to come.

DCW office was locked on orders of L-G, says Swati Maliwal

The political tussle on Thursday began when Maliwal claimed that her office had been locked down but hours later, it was found open, though her name plate had been removed.

Maliwal also claimed that all files had been taken away from her office.

"Why has my office been locked and why was my name plate and that of other members removed from the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) office? I will work for the cause of women and will make DCW the strongest in the world," the 30-year-old Maliwal said on Thursday morning.

When asked about the office being open contrary to her claims, she said her staff had gone to the office in the morning and had found it locked.

"It could have been opened later maybe due to media pressure or any other reason. But it was locked in the morning. Since we were told we cannot sign any files, in a way, the Commission closed down," she told PTI.

Asked why she had not gone to the DCW office, "I am not a DCW poster girl who will only work if she gets the top post, I will continue to work the way I have been working."

On Wednesday night, Maliwal had claimed that Jung asked her not to attend office from the next day and had also said it will be locked, a charge denied by the L-G's office.

She claimed that the DCW has become a "Kitty Party Commission" due to the behaviour of previous authorities and that she intended to do "serious work."

Maliwal said nobody could "shake her morale" and that she will continue to work for women's rights, in an indication of defying L-G's order.

Jung had on Tuesday rejected Maliwal's appointment as chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women, saying his approval had not been sought on it.

Striking down Maliwal's appointment as DCW chief, Jung had, in a letter to Kejriwal on Tuesday, referred to a home ministry order and said 'Government' meant the "Lt Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi" appointed by the President and that he was sole authority in deciding on major issues including appointment to top positions.

AAP govt sends file on appointment of Maliwal to L-G's office

After a meeting with Jung, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the Delhi government sent the file relating to Maliwal's appointment to L-G for clearance but added it was done so to "stop the conspiracy to weaken the panel."

"Modi government made the DCW completely inactive. A new chief was appointed and attempts were being made to make a new beginning from a fresh perspective. But issue is being made out of a signature.

"Nameplate is being removed. But we don't consider this to be an issue. That is why we have given the file to L-G for his signature so that the conspiracy to weaken the panel can be stopped," Sisodia told reporters.

The deputy chief minister also accused the Centre of "attempting to weaken" AAP government's fight against corruption.

On appointment of Maliwal, he said the Delhi government has plans to improve women safety and the DCW has a role to play in this regard.

"We are not making this an issue as government is more concerned about women's safety," said Sisodia.

Kejriwal slams L-G Jung in letter

Finally, in his letter to Jung, Kejriwal said it was not an ego issue and alleged that the L-G was acting at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"The L-G says he is the government of Delhi. How can it be? How can anyone call himself the government? This will result in dictatorship in Delhi. Nothing can be more laughable than this. India is a democracy. Delhi has an elected government.

"It's but a fact that the meaning of Delhi government is an elected government and not any individual," Kejriwal said in the letter, adding, "But why is the L-G making such laughable and unconstitutional statements? The truth is the Lt Governor himself is not doing anything. He is being asked to do things."

"I have come to know that at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jung has made the DCW completely dysfunctional. Before that he had made the ACB dysfunctional. I have been told that the files of all the newly appointed members have been forcibly taken from them and nameplates have been removed. This is totally wrong," said Kejriwal.

Kejriwal sent the letter to Jung hours after Delhi government sent a file to the L-G seeking his approval on Maliwal's appointment as DCW chief.

AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj, in a panel discussion on CNN-IBN, also criticised Jung and said that the L-G had caused a "Rs 4,500 crore loss to Delhi in one year. He is not competent to rule Delhi. We are the ones who have promised Delhi good governance. Central government doesn't want the Delhi government to work."

What other parties say

While Congress leader Kiran Walia told CNN-IBN that these tussles between the CM and L-G took place because the people "have had a street fighter as chief minister", BJP's Shazia Ilmi said that the Kejriwal government had not fulfilled any of its pre-poll promises.

On Wednesday, Opposition leader in the state assembly and BJP MLA, Vijender Gupta, said Maliwal was appointed without statutory concurrence of Jung and charged that the Constitutional Head of Delhi Government is being "deliberately undermined and ignored" by Kejriwal.

"Jung's decision to annul appointment of Maliwal by Kejriwal as DCW chairperson is fully justified and keeping in letter and the spirit of the Constitution," Gupta said in a statement.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jul 24, 2015 07:59:40 IST