Chief Secretary-AAP MLAs’ spat is nothing short of bizarre power game

Anshu_Prakash“Unreal friendship may turn to real, but real friendship, once ended, cannot be mended,” said Nobel Laureate T.S. Eliot. The recent spat between Delhi Chief Secretary and Aam Aadmi Party legislators at the residence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal points to a similar situation. The tiff has degenerated beyond the limits of acceptable bizarreness. With entire bureaucracy standing in support of the Chief Secretary, it would be interesting to watch how the chief minister is able to mend forces and forge friendship with the babus. Kejriwal who has a distinct style of functioning has to be held responsible for this kind of unbecoming incident because he allowed a meeting between the Chief Secretary and the legislators at midnight. Being the CM, it was incumbent upon him to ensure amicable relations between executive and legislator. If the senior most bureaucrat in the Delhi government feels himself physically intimidated, the onus lies squarely on the Chief Minister. The Chief Secretary, Anshu Prakash, has alleged that he was physically assaulted by two AAP MLAs in the presence of Kejriwal. The Delhi Police promptly arrested the two MLAs. Around 20 officers of Delhi Police searched the chief minister’s residence, while about 40 kept guard outside to seize CCTV footage of the alleged attack.

The AAP has showed equal promptness in blaming BJP at the Centre for fomenting trouble. As per the law, the Centre’s nominee, the Lieutenant-Governor, holds most of the constitutional power and the L-G has reinvented himself as a hostile source of constitutional pinpricks. Only recently, the AAP completed three years of power in Delhi which could be described as survival by fire. The Lt Governor has always stretched the rulebook to its limits by declaring each and every AAP policy initiative as null and void.

The Kejriwal government has historically been marred by conflicts but none could imagine that its MLAs would assault the Chief Secretary in his presence. The Delhi CM has to deal with officers reporting directly to the Lt. Governor, who is not bound by law to act on the advice of his council of ministers. Until Delhi is a full State, the CM, the party and his ministers have to understand that they have to work within the existing constitutional arrangement. Instead of working at a collision course with the bureaucracy, the AAP needs to keep pushing for the constitutional changes that will give Delhi full statehood rather than targeting police officers and civil servants. The leadership at the Centre too needs to show statesmanship so that both the Centre and the Delhi government work together to see that the administration is not brought to a halt.