AAP vs bureaucracy
AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan was granted bail by Delhi High Court on Monday in the Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash assault case. The other accused in the case Prakash Jarwal was granted bail by the Delhi High Court on March 9. Both the MLAs have been asked by the High Court to adhere to the conditions of the bail. The two MLAs have been asked to inform the court if they are planning to visit abroad. They have also been warned not to be seen near the Chief Secretary or try to put pressure on witnesses or manipulate the evidence. The Delhi Police are investigating the assault case and has questioned at least two more MLAs in the case. The Delhi Police is said to be preparing to question AAP Chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. Both were said to be present in the meeting at Kejriwal's official residence where the Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash was assaulted by the MLAs on the midnight of February 19.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government officials are continuing with their agitation. They have maintained a formal communication and are avoiding all meetings with the Delhi government ministers including the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister. They are adamant on a formal apology from the Chief Minister on the incident. The government officials maintain that they are working in a vitiated environment where their safety and dignity are under threat. The manner in which the Chief Security was assaulted and the way AAP has tried to defend the incident make the government officials doubtful about the intentions of AAP leaders. Though the Chief Secretary and other senior officials attended a meeting to finalise the details of the budget, the government officials are declining to attend meetings called after the office hours. This stalemate has affected the functioning of the government and files are said to be piling up in different departments. The AAP has expressed no remorse for the acts of its MLAs. The party is trying to make a political issue out of the logjam between the government officials and the AAP leaders. The AAP has maintained that Anshu Prakash's allegations that he was assaulted at the Chief Minister's house by AAP MLAs on the midnight of February 19 is part of the Centre's conspiracy to topple the Delhi government. Clearly, AAP is ready for the political battle if the Centre makes a case against the Kejriwal government based on the assault on Anshu Prakash.
The AAP government in Delhi has done some pioneering work in the field of healthcare, education, and welfare of the poor and the marginalised. Its efforts to make the healthcare system more accessible for the people has earned the party laurels in the country and outside. Its efforts to improve the quality of education in government schools by augmenting infrastructure and appointing teachers have made a difference to the education scene in the national capital. Though the party has lost all the three municipal corporation elections in the national capital, its sway on the voters continues and the party looks ready to give the BJP and the Congress a strong fight in the next Assembly elections which is about two years away. The AAP should understand that the government officials do not have pressure to perform to the same degree as the party and its leaders. The party should allow the bureaucracy all the freedom and ensure their safety and dignity if it wants to have a smooth run till the next Assembly elections.
However, the assault on an IAS officer in an official meeting also points to the fact that the elected representatives have a very low opinion about the senior officers of the government. Recently, in a programme of elected representatives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a pitch for young IAS officers. He said that in order to achieve time-bound results in the country's most backward districts, the Chief Ministers should depute only young IAS officers below the age of 40. Young officers have energy and motivation to work hard and achieve results while senior officers are saddled with family responsibilities that make them seek posting in big cities where their children are studying, etc. But having low opinions about senior officers is full of fallacy. Senior officers are better integrated into the system and they come with experience of both the ground level realities as well as the government machinery and its ability to deliver results. Senior officers can't be dispensed with.