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Democracy fails

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Democracy fails
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The turf war between the AAP government and the Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung over the transfer and postings of bureaucrats have intensified with Jung cancelling all the postings done by the Delhi government over the past five days, landing the capital in an unusual crisis.

There have been differences between the AAP government, that came to power in Delhi in February and the Lt. Governor over a range of issues. The confrontation worsened when Jung decided to appoint IAS officer Shakuntala Gamlin as acting Chief Secretary of Delhi, without consulting the Chief Minister. The Kejriwal government has accused Gamlin of lobbying for power companies. The Delhi CM also alleged that Jung was trying to interfere in the administration and wrote to the Prime Minister accusing the Centre of ‘trying to run the government unconstitutionally through the lieutenant-governor’. In his letter to Modi, the CM also asserted that his government should be allowed to ‘function independently’. The Lt. governor wrote back to Kejriwal maintaining that all appointments taken by the AAP government without his approval was invalid and asserted that he had the ‘power to appoint and to transfer’ the bureaucrats. Kejriwal shot back a reply asking Jung to explain the ‘clause of the Constitution’ under which he was ‘sending the directives’.

He said that the files need only to go the concerned Ministers and not to the governor. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in a meeting of senior officials told the bureaucrats not to “blindly” follow Lt Governor’s orders and asked them to discharge their duties in line ‘with constitutional provisions, without any fear or apprehension’. Both Nejeeb Jung and Kejriwal met the President separately to make him clear of their respective stands. It is evident that both the governor and the CM are not concerned about governance but rather interested in conflict of self importance. The Centre asked both Jung and Kejriwal to ‘sit together and find a solution’ to the issues and said that both of them should be discharging their duties in accordance with rules and the Constitution. Home Minister Rajnath Singh met with the President to make clear the Centre’s stance on the matter and claimed that the Home Ministry has the power to control the CM as well as the Lt. Governor.

It is clear that neither the Constitution nor the Lt. Governor was responsible for the ongoing crisis in the capital but Modi’s government’s strong aversion to the AAP Ministry. The BJP government at the Centre has been intolerant towards Kejriwal and his party since he stormed to power in Delhi. Kejriwal accused the governor of going ahead with the appointment of Gamlin safeguarding the interests of companies including Reliance. In a retaliatory attempt, Kejriwal removed the Principal Secretary from his post without consulting with the Governor and two additional officers were appointed despite the Governor claiming that the appointments were invalid.

The architects of the constitution formed it sealing up all loopholes that could undermine the Federal set up of the nation. But the politically motivated amends to constitution later on is the reason for the present crisis in Delhi. There have been complaints regarding the jurisdiction of the Central government since the formation of Delhi in 1993. But there have been no confrontations so far because same party had been in power both at the Centre and in the state. Article 239 (AA, AB) in the Constitution grants special powers to the Delhi lieutenant-governor that he can exercise independently of his council of Ministers. It also says that the Governor can consult the Ministry on key matters and if required seek their assistance and advice. The conflicts over the transfer and postings of bureaucrats arose due to the lack of such policies in the case of Chief Secretary appointments. Policing is the major portfolio for the state government and its absence has crippled the Delhi government. The predicament in the capital is currently being dubbed as the crisis of the whole country and been a hot topic of discourses in foreign countries. The Constitutional stature of Delhi now needs an extensive evaluation for a smooth and effective functioning of democracy.

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