Making mountains out of a molehill
The face-off between the Constitutional Head of Delhi and the Chief Minister of its elected government over the appointment of an acting Chief Secretary (CS) has snowballed into a major controversy. It is in fact taking an ugly turn due to the fast escalating reactions and counter- reactions from both sides in the electronic and print media. This gold rush for headlines is rare and has not yet been seen even between two of India’s arch political adversaries.
There have been just two occasions necessitating the appointment of the acting CS in the city government; incidentally both became controversial, the reason being <g data-gr-id="56">lack</g> of mutual confidence on the part of both parties. It has not been a coincidence that both occasions had come up in 2015 during Arvind Kejriwal’s second term. On the superannuation of DM Sapolia-a former Principal Secretary to the LG, SN Sahay was made acting CS by Kejriwal, this promptly offended the Lieutenant Governor(LG), Najeeb Jung. Most recently, another IAS officer, Shakuntala Gamlin has been temporarily elevated as acting CS consequent upon the 10 days leave taken by the regular CS, KK Sharma, an event which supremely annoyed Kejriwal.
The absence of Sharma from the headquarter might be a counter-reaction by Sharma to a show cause notice given by the Kejriwal government. Sharma was considered to be a sincere officer and a man of action. He was instrumental in accomplishing key Public Works Department projects just before the beginning of the commonwealth games in Delhi.
The present skirmish over the appointment of Gamlin has irked the IAS and Delhi Andaman and Nicobar Civil Services lobby. The bureaucracy is disturbed, demoralised, suffocated and working under considerable pressure. It is contemplating a meeting with the LG and Union Home Minister to make them aware of the high-handedness and dictatorial attitude of the AAP government.
Those who have been minutely assessing the steps and actions of Kejriwal during the last four years believe that he would never hesitate in knocking up at the door of the Apex Court for interpretation of the constitutional powers of the LG vis a vis the CM. Further, he would not mind in taking this issue to the streets as his party has the backing of the general public. The statement of the Deputy CM, Manish Sisodia is an indication to this effect. His allegation of the BJP hatching a coup against the government through the LG does not seem to be believable, plausible yes but not probable. The CM made his intentions clear in a public meeting by accusing Gamlin of lobbying with the Power Minister, Satyender Jain to agree to give a guarantee to a <g data-gr-id="59">discom</g> for a loan of Rs. 11 thousand crore. The
minister in question has also prepared a detailed note on the alleged wrong doings of Gamlin.
This may be used by the AAP government at a strategically ripe occasion to expose her and to make a ground for her send off from the government. It has been adequately publicised that Gamlin is close to the <g data-gr-id="53">discoms</g> and would not be afraid in offering them an undue financial benefit while working as the Principal Secretary overseeing Power. As of now only two persons, the LG and Gamlin, seem to be on the target of the ruling party. This has charged the already vitiated political atmosphere as both the Congress and BJP have started milking short term gains out of this ridiculous state of affairs.
As Kejriwal has no hope from the BJP led government at the centre, He has sought an appointment with the President and will most likely be seeking his intervention in the matter. Moreover the Union Home Secretary, LC Goyal has washed his hands from the present controversy in the city government and has categorically stated that the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) has nothing to with this. Meanwhile the Minister Of State in the MHA, <g data-gr-id="58">Kiren</g> Rijuju has given a new twist to the present episode by politicising the issue needlessly and linking it with the dignity of a lady officer from one of the North-Eastern states. He went on to say that injustice is being meted out to Gamlin as she comes from the North East region. She comes from a political family and had been most of the time posted in Delhi throughout her career.
Given that the fast exploding turf war regarding the powers of the LG under the Constitution, it is safe to say that it is affecting the governance of the city state badly. The earlier governments had been working smoothly, understanding the real-time difficulties which the bureaucracy laboured under.
The differences earlier were used to be resolved by mutual prudence and understanding. The issue could have been sorted out provided the LG and CM had avoided washing their dirty linen in public. Their attitude and ego facilitated the making of a mountain out of a molehill.