In the ongoing stalemate between Delhi Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal and the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the city, the ultimate victims are the people who have nothing to do with the tug of war. The alleged strike of the bureaucrats is hampering people’s welfare works.
The funds meant for the students from the economically weaker section (EWS) were supposed to be transferred to the private schools, but the money has not been sent so far, apparently, because of the strike.
The last installment of the payment for the Signature Bridge has not been paid.
The constructions of new Mohalla Clinics have halted because of the ‘strike’. The Cabinet of the city government approved lab tender for the clinics on December 12 last year, but due to the undeclared ‘strike’ of bureaucrats, lab tender has not been floated till date. The Delhi government’s Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) cleared the proposal of construction of 94 polyclinics on February 7. Due to IAS officers’ ‘strike’, the proposal has not been put up before Cabinet after four months.
The danger of dengue outbreak is looming large in the city, but the government does not even have a fresh plan to tackle the emergency situation. The officers – alleged senior AAP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh – are not even attending the meeting called for planning to control dengue that would wreak havoc in the city in a month.
The construction work of the roads and the drains in the unauthorised colonies has halted. The white-washing of the government school building that was supposed to be finished during the summer vacations has not been done.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Health Minister Satyendar Jain (who is also on an indefinite fast) and Transport Minister Gopal Rai have been sitting in the waiting room of the Raj Niwas (the official residence of the L-G) in Delhi for the past two days with a pledge that they won’t leave till the L-G gives in to their demands.
Launching a scathing attack on Baijal, CM Kejriwal on June 12 alleged that the office of the L-G is “threatening” the IAS (Indian Administrative Services) officers deputed in the city government “not to call off” their undeclared strike and return to work. The CM, along with his Cabinet ministers, have been sitting at L-G’s house, for L-G to order IAS officers to break their four-month-long, unconstitutional and politically motivated strike.
“The IAS officers of the Delhi government recently met (Deputy Chief Minister) Manish Sisodia and told him that they want to call off the strike and resume their works. But – they said – they are being threatened by the office of the L-G not to do so. It shows that the L-G is supporting the strike. On May 24, three ministers – Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai – met the L-G who denied the allegation saying that it is baseless. He asked for one more week to convince the officers to return to work,” Kejriwal alleged in a video message shared on Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s official page.
The ‘babus’ in the national capital have allegedly been on an “undeclared and partial strike” for the past four months following an alleged assault on their boss – Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash – during a midnight meeting at CM Kejriwal’s residence on February 19.
They are allegedly not attending any government meeting. Neither – as alleged – they are picking up ministers’ phone calls, nor replying to their text messages. They reportedly attend to only “extremely important” files, but are not doing any other work related to health, education, etc.
“I wrote to L-G and met him personally several times, requesting to get this strike called off. Our entire Cabinet met L-G on February 23 to request him to intervene and get the issues resolved. He sought a week’s time to get it done but did nothing,” alleged the chief minister.
Deputy CM Sisodia – said Kejriwal – wrote a letter to the L-G on February 26, but again to no effect. “I personally met the L-G on February 28, and asked him what happened in the one week he had sought to pursue the officers to return to work. He asked me to give further one week. Manish Sisodia shot off another letter on February 28. I too wrote another letter on March 1. I met the L-G again on March 16, and told him that one month has passed and no officer has begun full-fledged work. He sought one week for the third time. I asked him to issue a written direction, asking the officer to come back to work as the strike is illegal. But he refused to issue any written direction saying that he will convince the officers,” added the chief minister.
When the three ministers (Sisodia, Jain and Rai) – said Kejriwal – met the L-G after a week on June 7, the latter continued asking for the next one week. “It means the L-G does not want this strike to be called off,” he said, adding that “therefore, we came to the L-G residence and have decided to leave only if our demands are met”.
The two demands include an end to the strike by IAS officers and approval for the new doorstep delivery of services scheme.
The chief minister and his ministers are also protesting against the L-G’s alleged refusal to the proposed ‘doorstep delivery’ scheme in which, ration distributed to the people under the public distribution system (PDS) will be delivered to people directly at their residence.
This decision – says the chief minister – has been taken to check the rampant corruption in the ration distribution system. “The L-G told us that he cannot permit this decision. We need to get it cleared from the Central government. We know what it means. We know that – as per the law – no sanction of the Central government is required for this permission,” said Kejriwal.
“The IAS lobby is playing in the hands of Modi government. We are ready to fight all the obstructions created by BJP-led Central government and its L-G,” he added.
Meanwhile, experts admit that the officers (whose cadre controlling authority is the Union Ministry of Home Affairs) are enjoying the backing of the L-G who reports to the President, but also say that it is the city government that is responsible for the ongoing crisis.
“As far as I know, the bureaucracy is not on the strike in Delhi. The officers come to their offices and go as usual. But they have stopped cooperating with the government without making it public. They know that they will get protection from the L-G because Delhi is the territory of Union and these officers report to the Centre through the L-G,” SK Sharma, former secretary of the Lok Sabha and Delhi Legislative Assembly, told Newsclick.
Asked if this undeclared strike is permissible within the law, he replied, “Of course not. The biggest loser in this tug of war is the people of the city who have nothing to do with all this. But it is the government which is responsible for the situation to come to this level. How do you expect the officers to cooperate with you when you intimidate them by getting their boss (the chief secretary) thrashed by your bouncers (the 11 MLAs),” he said.
According to him, the ongoing situation could have been avoided had the chief minister called the chief secretary and said sorry for what had happened.
“As I see, given the present situation,” said Sharma, “Delhi has no government and even the Assembly of the national capital has become null and void”.
Different letter exchanged can be read here.