Looming mid-term poll
The alleged physical assault on Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash has finally snowballed into a major controversy. So far, the medical report of the Delhi Chief Secretary has suggested that he was hit in the face and the Delhi Police has argued in the court that the physical assault could have rendered the Chief Secretary dead. The two AAP MLAs who have been accused of mounting the assault have been named in the FIR, arrested and sent to judicial custody for 14 days. The Delhi Police has sought police custody of the two MLAs to investigate if there was a premeditated conspiracy to assault the Chief Secretary. In a new statement presented in front of a magistrate, Delhi Chief Minister's adviser VK Jain has confirmed that he saw the Chief Secretary being assaulted by the MLAs. It has also come to light that the Chief Secretary was not aware of the agenda of the meeting when he visited Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's house at midnight on February 19, after persistent phone calls from Jain. Delhi government employees including IAS officers on Thursday maintained a distance from the political executive and observed a five-minute silence over the assault of the Chief Secretary. They are adamant on their demand for an apology from the Chief Minister on the incident. AAP's Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh and party leader Ashutosh have maintained that the entire issue is a conspiracy at the behest of the Centre to topple the AAP government in Delhi. Jayadev Sarangi, Secretary of Information and Publicity department, has said that no department was ready to vouch for the correctness and accuracy of the Delhi government advertisements. As per the Supreme Court guidelines for issuing advertisements, all the contents of the advertisements have to be endorsed by a government department before their release. As per the Chief Secretary, the inability of the bureaucracy to release Delhi government advertisements was the trigger for a physical assault on the Chief Secretary by AAP MLAs. The controversy further flared up when a large posse of Delhi Police personnel including forensic and other experts descended on Kejriwal's official residence on Friday morning to investigate the assault on the Delhi Chief Secretary. In a tweet, Kejriwal targetted National BJP President Amit Shah and asked why he was not being questioned over CBI Judge BH Loya's death. He along with his council of ministers also sought time for a meeting with Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal to apprise him of what actually happened at his residence on the night of February 19. For Kejriwal, however, the battle ahead is not an easy one. The alleged physical assault on the Delhi Chief Secretary has angered a large section of the bureaucracy and they are demanding an apology from the Chief Minister. There is a sense of fear and anguish among the Delhi government employees. They are wary of meeting the political executive. The state government is slated to bring in the budget next month, and for that, it has to consult the officials and keep them working even beyond the office timings. But the Delhi government officials are refusing to meet the ministers and the MLAs as they feel offended by the physical assault meted out to Delhi Chief Secretary.
Clearly, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has to come out with a more plausible explanation for the incident and may even have to apologise for that in order to pacify the agitated bureaucracy. But, this is not an easy task given the fact that the L-G and the opposition parties, the Congress and the BJP, would want a thorough probe into the incident and the due punishment of the guilty ones. The incident of physical assault on the Delhi Chief Secretary is unprecedented. The L-G and the opposition parties would want the matter resolved in a way that is not disparaging or compromising upon the dignity of the bureaucracy. As the Chief Minister and his council of ministers have sought time from the L-G to explain their version of the incident, the question that looms large is if they are also ready to face an early election after recommending the dissolution of the Assembly. Since the beginning of the controversy, AAP leaders have maintained that the accusations have been made at the behest of the Centre and that they fear the BJP-ruled Centre may topple the AAP government. In the public speeches, since the controversy began on Monday midnight, Kejriwal has enumerated the work it has done for the people of Delhi. Are these election speeches?