Review Delhi governance model

Review Delhi governance model

The Centre has issued a notification ‘clarifying’ the division of powers between the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Minister in Delhi. But don’t expect an end anytime soon to the ugly turf war that Arvind Kejriwal and Najeeb Jung are fighting. The current battle began over the routing of files, subsided a bit, and then erupted with greater ferocity over the appointment of an acting chief secretary by LG Jung to fill in for the chief secretary who is abroad on leave. If it wasn’t for the fact that the feuding nearly brought about a constitutional crisis, the turn of events would have made for some entertaining farce: the Kejriwal government called the acting CS names but later allowed her to sit in at meetings. Instead, the bureaucrat who issued her appointment letter was replaced – in fact, locked out of his office. Both sides shot off letters to each other, putting their own spin on constitutional and other legal provisions they claim to go by.

The LG has not been above board in this controversy. Even if he enjoys primacy in transfers and postings, and in subjects like public order and land, he should have made greater effort to act in consultation with an elected chief minister. In fact, the latest notification – even if it has only served to provoke the Aam Aadmi Party’s government more – too concedes that “in his discretion”, the LG can obtain the views of the CM in matters related to appointments.  But then, Kejriwal is always spoiling for a fight. Remember his first term when he led a dharna against the Centre? True, Kejriwal has come to power in Delhi with an unprecedented mandate. But he knew what he signed up for when he became CM. He has less functional autonomy than CMs of other states. His Delhi is a Union Territory which has a legislative assembly, and a complex system of governance. Not only has he got to concede vital matters such as policing to the Centre, through the LG, he also has no control over the municipalities. This is far from an ideal situation and the only good thing that might come about from this LG-CM duel is the realisation that this Delhi model of governance needs an urgent review. The AAP leader seeks nothing less than full statehood for Delhi, a demand voiced by other parties in the past as well. And he could be right when he says he needs more freedom to run the state. But with his agitational approach, he might be going about it in the wrong way.

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