Delhi government, LG spar over transfer, ‘intimidation’ of officials

New Delhi, Oct 23 (IANS) Delhi’s AAP government on Friday slammed Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung for allegedly “intimidating” senior officers and “shunting out an honest bureaucrat fighting against graft”. Jung said the officer was transferred at the Centre’s behest.

The government vowed to stand by its bureaucrats and announced the setting up of a panel of three ministers to “protect bureaucrats from political victimisation”.

Transfer and posting of senior bureaucrats in the national capital has been a sore point between the Aam Aadmi Party government and the lt. governor, with both claiming the power.

In a damning charge on Friday, the Arvind Kejriwal government said Jung had threatened several senior officers with dire consequences, including police action, “if they refuse to partake in the exercise of obstructing the functioning of the Delhi government”.

It also questioned why Delhi’s Value Added Tax Commissioner Vijay Kumar, who cracked down on organised tax evasion syndicates, was “shunted out”.

“Why was he suddenly relieved by the hon’ble LG, keeping the chief minister also in the dark? This is not a transfer. This is shunting out of an officer who was fighting against corruption and against deeply entrenched vested interest,” the AAP government said in a statement.

Jung responded by saying that he relieved Kumar at the behest of the Centre.

On the charge of browbeating officers, Jung said he would not like to comment in view of several episodes of “poor treatment meted out by the elected government to the top bureaucrats”.

The decision to constitute the Group of Ministers, which would be chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, was taken at a cabinet meeting on Friday, an official statement said.

The government said the panel – including ministers Satyendra Jain and Gopal Rai – shall be authorised to take all steps required to protect officers, including providing legal support to them, at government cost.

The government also passed two resolutions against Jung on these issues.

The AAP government and Jung don’t see eye to eye on a host of issues, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accusing Jung of sabotaging the city administration at the behest of the Centre.

The Kejriwal government said Jung threatened several senior officers with dire consequences, including police action, “if they refuse to partake in the exercise of obstructing the functioning of the Delhi government”.

The government said the LG warned that if bureaucrats did not toe his line their careers would be “destroyed”.

“These officers were told to paralyse the elected AAP government by making adverse and obstructionist file notings against government decisions,” the government said.

It also said that Jung’s “intimidating and coercive tactics” had intensified over the last one month and he was “misusing the names of top officials of the central government to pressurise the officers to act in an illegal manner”.

“The cabinet is aghast to learn of these developments. This is a clear attempt to subvert the functioning of a democratically elected government which had come to power with a thumping majority.”

The government said it supported all officers and would even extend legal aid if they were pressurised by anyone.

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