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BJP lets crisis fester

BJP lets crisis fester
Highlights

What was initially a turf war between two former bureaucrats doing non-bureaucratic jobs of overseeing the Delhi bureaucracy’s work has acquired political overtones that do no credit to either, and the offices they currently hold. Relations between Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal have not been really cordial through political flip-flops over the last year and a half

Face-off between Kejriwal, Jung stresses need to clarify exact powers of Delhi CM

What was initially a turf war between two former bureaucrats doing non-bureaucratic jobs of overseeing the Delhi bureaucracy’s work has acquired political overtones that do no credit to either, and the offices they currently hold. Relations between Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal have not been really cordial through political flip-flops over the last year and a half. Keiriwal has accused Jung of batting for the Centre, be it the Congress or the BJP.

His sweeping majority in last December polls has made him more confident and confrontational, as is clear from the current spat over who in Delhi has the powers to make appointments and transfer officials.Delhi is not a full State and the respective powers of the Lt Governor and the Chief Minister fall in the Constitution’s grey areas, according to legal experts.

This was exploited in the past as well, even when Delhi and the Centre were ruled by the same party. The current controversy comes soon after the one on who should the Delhi Police report to. Leaving aside the rather pedestrian arguments presented by both sides, this face-off does bring into focus the need to clarify the exact powers vested in the Delhi CM; the issue of federalism; and the authority (or otherwise) vested in the office of LG, particularly if an incumbent, such as the present one, demonstrates no respect for the elected representative heading the government.

The BJP, like any other party in power at the Centre would and does, has reneged on its promise of giving full statehood to Delhi – or at least, has made no visible move since it lost the last polls badly. Indeed, the Union Home Ministry has behaved like the sulking monkey petulantly jumping from branch to branch of a tree on being denied its share of food.

This alone explains Rajnath Singh’s distancing himself from the battle, asking the two combatants to “sit and talk it over.” That, significantly, was after both wrote to the Prime Minister and met the President with their complaints. Singh has let the crisis fester.

His report to the PM confirms the Centre’s standing by its man, Jung, angering Kejriwal, who is no respecter of past precedents and norms. His political platform remains iconoclastic, and on that score, the BJP, despite is tall talk, has been a votary of continuity.

There is an urgent need to clarify the position of the Delhi Chief Minister in terms of the services. And if Jung and the central government are right in maintaining that he has no jurisdiction on something as basic as transfers and postings in his government, then clearly this needs to be looked at afresh. Sadly, this is escalating with 100 IAS officers jointly condemning Kejriwal, and no early end to the controversy is in sight.

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