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Najeeb Jung quits as Delhi L-G: Look back at ugly tussle between Centre-AAP in Delhi

Najeeb Jung tendered his resignation as the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi on Thursday. Jung's resignation brings an era of skirmishes, between any state government and a person at Constitutional position appointed by the President, to an end.

Jung, whose tenure was marked with run-ins with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, had close to more than a year and a half to go for his term to end and the reason for his resignation is not yet known. However, in his resignation letter, Jung thanked Kejriwal and the people of Delhi for "unstinted support from them, which in turn helped run the administration in Delhi smoothly and effortlessly."

Speaking with CNN-News18, Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit said that the resignation should not be seen as anything else other than what it is. Political observers have said that the ongoing battle with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi would have eventually worn the LG out.

An eventful year in terms of Delhi politics, 2016 saw a new chapter in the AAP versus central government tussle continuing the drama of last year when the Anti-Corruption Branch was "hijacked" and Kejriwal's office was raided — with experts saying development had suffered and this situation needs to be rectified once and for all.

This year saw a severe setback to the AAP when the Delhi High Court recognised Jung as the administrative head of the Delhi government. This prompted Jung to set up a panel to probe over 400 files related to various decisions taken by the Delhi government ever since coming to power, which it called "illegal". However, the AAP government quickly moved the Supreme Court against the 4 August high court decision and hopes to gain back lost ground in 2017.

 Najeeb Jung quits as Delhi L-G: Look back at ugly tussle between Centre-AAP in Delhi"We have full faith in the Supreme Court and that's why we have approached them. It is our firm belief that in the coming days, things will become clear and we will get justice from the Supreme Court," Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said when asked about the AAP government's expectations from the apex court. What may boost the Delhi government's confidence was the Supreme Court's observation made last — that the elected government should have "some powers" in order to function properly. The Supreme Court has listed the case for final disposal on 18 January.

The confrontation between the Delhi government and the Centre escalated from the very first day of the year when Kejriwal accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Lt Governor Jung of allegedly masterminding the CBI raid at the Delhi Secretariat and the mass casual leave taken by IAS officers here just a day before the first edition of the odd-even scheme was to take off.

In March this year, the AAP government appointed former Chief Income Tax Commissioner Krishna Saini as chairperson of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) without taking Jung's approval. In September, after the 4 August high court verdict giving primacy to Jung, the now-former LG scrapped Saini's appointment ab initio, rendering all decisions taken by him void, and asked the government to start the selection process from the beginning as per the law.

Kejriwal called it a "conspiracy" by the BJP-led Centre to increase power tariff in the national capital as "Saini had issued many orders since his appointment to fix the accountability of power companies". Another flashpoint in the AAP-LG row was when Jung removed Delhi's health secretary Tarun Seem and PWD secretary Sarvagya Srivastava — both officers instrumental in the implementation of the Delhi government's Mohalla Clinic (Neighbourhood Clinic) project.

In response, Kejriwal said Modi was "hell bent on destroying Delhi through the Lt Governor". Interestingly, Seem's replacement, Chandraker Bharti, has constantly been at loggerheads with the government, the most recent instance being his "refusal to visit a hospital along with Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain where a patient died due to non-availability of a ventilator".

Throughout the time that Jung and Kejriwal warred over jurisdiction issues, citizens of Delhi suffered the most. On one hand there is a party swept into power on a popular vote and then there is the central government’s appointee – the Lt Governor. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal thought he was governing Delhi. Jung claimed otherwise.

The tension between L-G and the elected government extended to the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) as well when Jung appointed Alka Diwan as its Member Secretary in October. Diwan stopped payment of salaries to contractual employees of DCW, prompting Kejriwal to seek her removal, terming her appointment unconstitutional and against the Delhi government's wishes.

Jung then replaced Diwan with another IAS officer, Dilraj Kaur. Kejriwal rejected her appointment and directed PP Dhal to officiate in the position.

After Delhi High Court's judgment stating that Jung is the real boss in Delhi, there was a major crisis of governance in Delhi. The rights and wrongs and the limitations of Jung's powers are for the courts to look at, but there was no doubt that decisions taken by Jung, were to paralyse the Delhi government's policy making abilities and also to discredit the leadership of AAP. The power tussle between Jung and Kejriwal infact was criticised by many and rebel AAP leader, and now Swaraj Abhiyan crusader Yogendra Yadav said that Jung is acting as an instrument of the BJP and the real victims in this perceived confrontation between the Delhi Government and the Centre are the common people of the national capital.

Constitutional expert and former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subhash C Kashyap feels that the tussle is taking a toll on development in the national capital. "It is a very sad state of affairs. The tussle between the Centre and the Delhi government is certainly affecting the development works in the city. Those suffering are the people who voted AAP to power," Kashyap had told IANS.

He said the government is run with "cooperation" and "collaboration", not with "confrontation". Pointing to Kejriwal's predecessor, Sheila Dikshit, Kashyap said if the elected government had taken the Lt. Governor in confidence from the beginning, this situation would not have arrived.

As for the future prospects of the tussle, Kashyap said: "It will depend on the results of the Punjab, Goa and Uttar Pradesh assembly elections (in 2017) and what lesson the AAP takes from them."

Former Lok Sabha Secretary General PDT Achary said the Supreme Court will decide the matter of jurisdiction once and for all, putting all controversies to rest. "Whichever way the Supreme Court decides, at least the public will know the government's powers. Whether the High Court verdict is upheld or overruled, all controversies will end," Achary had told IANS.

Achary, however, said the elected government should enjoy certain powers, otherwise there is no point in creating an assembly and a council of ministers.

"As per the Constitution, the elected government and the council of ministers are collectively responsible to the legislature. If the LG has all the powers then this provision of the constitution loses its meaning," he said. "In that case who will be responsible for governance?"

Achary had told IANS that Delhi is the biggest loser in this whole setup and added that Delhi currently faces a peculiar situation due to the prevailing confusion over the matter of jurisdiction. "Due to this, the governance in the city is at a standstill and the government has become powerless. The only hope is that the apex court takes the final decision and ends all the confusion," he added.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Dec 22, 2016 18:37:48 IST