Politics

Kejriwal Equates Modi to Imperial Queen, Calls Jung the Viceroy

New Delhi:New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday equated Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Queen of England and the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi to the Viceroy of India, invoking the spectre of Raj-style imperial rule in the latest round of an escalating conflict with the BJP-led government at the Centre over what the Aam Aadmi Party says is an attempt to usurp the powers of a duly elected government in the National Capital through the backdoor.

Addressing a press conference,  Kejriwal, who had earlier met President Pranab Mukherjee to complain about Jung appropriating the powers of his government to make bureaucratic appointments, accused the Centre of partisanship.

“Just the way in pre-Independence India the Queen ruled India through the Viceroy, so Narendra Modi is trying to rule Delhi with the help of the Lieutenant Governor, who is just a face. It is not a fight between Kejriwal and Jung, it is an attempt by the BJP government at the Centre, which could not digest the defeat in the Assembly elections, to rule Delhi through the backdoor.”

Kejriwal’s attack on Modi came minutes after the Centre declared that it was not mandatory for the LG  to consult the CM in service matters.

Through a gazette notification issued during the day, the Union Home made it clear that the LG has jurisdiction over matters connected with services, public order, police and land and that he had the discretion to consult, or not consult, the CM in these matters.

The notification declared that “public order, police, land and services fall outside the purview of the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi and consequently the Government of NCT of Delhi will have no executive power” in these matters.

Since the Delhi government had recently also locked horns with the Centre in the matter of its Anti-Corruption Branch having the power to arrest Delhi Police personnel – leading to a situation in which an FIR was registered against Branch personnel for arresting a policeman during an anti-graft raid – the Union Home Ministry has also clarified that the Anti-Corruption Branch police station shall not take cognisance of offences against officials, employees and functionaries of Central Government services. This order supersedes a 1998 notification.

Kejriwal said that the term “services” does not include matters of transfer and postings but was restricted to powers which generally vest with a parent organisation when an officer is posted out on deputation. “If a person is sent to ONGC on deputation, then ONGC has the right to transfer or post him. But matters of discipline continue to remain in the domain of the parent organisation,” he explained.

Addressing a press conference soon after the issue of the notification, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the confrontation between the Chief Minister and the Lieutenant Governor was a constitutional and not a political one.

“The circular which has been issued by the Centre is a clarificatory notification in terms of the Constitution… The elected government in Delhi has a large number of powers, there are some powers which are reserved with the Central government as well… So that there is no confusion as to who exercises which power,” he said.

This is the second time that Jaitley has spoken on behalf of the Centre on the issue. A couple of days ago, he accused the AAP of not having governance on its “political agenda”. “AAP has such a huge mandate, they must understand their responsibility and that people want governance, not controversies and disputes. But if they can’t, then it is also our responsibility to make them understand,” he had said.

Hitting back, the AAP had issued a statement claiming that the BJP government was deliberately putting hurdles in the way of the elected Delhi Government.

“Ever since the Arvind Kejriwal led AAP came to power in Delhi, the BJP-led regime at the Centre has been looking at ways and means to belittle the February election results by using different offices including that of the Lt. Governor to interfere with the working of the state government,” it claimed.

(With inputs from PTI.)