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AAP vs Bureaucracy

AAP vs Bureaucracy
In a day of swift developments, the Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash's medical report states swelling and bruises on his face and head, leaving little doubt about the allegations that he was assaulted by AAP MLAs at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's residence on Monday night. An FIR was lodged against AAP MLAs and two of them, Prakash Jarwal and Amanatullah Khan, were produced in the court and sent to judicial custody. Dismissing the Delhi Police's request of seeking custody of the two MLAs, a city court also asked the DCPs of the respective areas to personally monitor the cases pertaining to the assault. Prakash also skipped a meeting of the Question and Reference Committee of the Delhi Assembly on alleged irregularities in a cooperative bank. Taking exception to the Chief Secretary's absence, the members of the committee recommended privilege proceedings against him for contempt of House. Important unions representing Delhi government employees such as DANICS, DASS, and the IAS associations remained firm on their stance that officers will not meet political executives and they will communicate with them only in writing. Meanwhile, AAP claimed that the two MLAs, Prakash Jarwal, and Amanatullah Khan, have been targetted because one of them is a Dalit and the other a Muslim. The party strongly defended them. AAP's Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh claimed that there is no evidence to suggest that the Delhi Chief Secretary was assaulted by AAP MLAs. Singh said that the accusations by Delhi Chief Secretary are a part of a plan hatched by the Centre to topple the AAP government in Delhi. The AAP government in Delhi has had a tenuous relationship with its bureaucracy ever since the AAP came to power. The main reason for the strained relationship between the state government and the bureaucracy is a turf war between the state government and the Centre, which wields decisive power in some areas of governance. The AAP vied for a full statehood for Delhi while the Centre would look at it as a Union Territory. Many of the decisions of the state governments were not carried out by the state bureaucracy as the Centre appointed Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) would put his foot down. There were countless occasions when the state government's decisions were struck down by the L-G. The latest, in which AAP MLAs have been accused of assaulting the Chief Secretary, is among the most serious face-offs between the state government and its bureaucracy. Interestingly, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Secretary Manish Sisodia have not spoken on the alleged assault of the Chief Secretary. While the Chief Minister was away to Madurai to attend a function organised by Kamal Hassan, the Deputy Chief Minister remained busy with his work at the Delhi Secretariat. Among the major works that may be affected by the ongoing tussle between the state government and the bureaucracy is the Delhi Budget, which will be introduced in the Delhi Assembly next month.
While the AAP has termed the Delhi Chief Secretary's charges as completely false, the Congress and the BJP have made representations to the L-G, asking him to ensure that the bureaucrats and other staff are protected and the Chief Minister apologises for the ugly incident at his residence. They also demanded that the L-G ensures a work environment that is free from intimidation. As things stand, the differences between the Delhi government and its bureaucracy will take a long time to bridge. Since the very beginning, the AAP government was denied by the Centre the officers it wanted in its government. Those who assumed the posts of the higher bureaucracy in the Delhi government had to constantly face hostilities from the political executives. In a way, the bureaucrats had to bear the brunt of routine face-offs between the AAP government and the Centre. The ongoing controversy in which the top-most officer of the government has accused the AAP MLAs of mounting an attack on him is only the climax of years of hostility between the state government and the bureaucrats. While AAP government's stance that the Chief Secretary was not assaulted by its MLAs will be scrutinised by the police and the judiciary—the people in Delhi are certainly not amused by the incident. AAP has a huge mandate to run its government in Delhi and the irresponsible behaviour on part of its leaders will not help it implement its policies and plans. AAP must display its conviction in taking the bureaucrats along with it in its efforts to meet the people's expectations.

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