AAP hits back after Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakash alleges assault by party MLAs

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New Delhi: The war between the Delhi bureaucracy and the Delhi government took an ugly turn on Tuesday with chief secretary Anshu Prakash alleging he was assaulted by two legislators of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) during a meeting at the chief minister’s home.

The AAP government called the allegations “motivated” and “ludicrous”, even as they sparked a mob attack at the Delhi Secretariat.

This was the latest in a series of run-ins between the Delhi government and the capital’s centrally administered bureaucracy, marked by constant tussle between the lieutenant governor (L-G) and the AAP over appointments, government decisions and law-related matters.

The AAP government said that an emergency meeting was convened on the intervening night of 19-20 February to address the issue of 250,000 families who were deprived of food rations last month due to allegedly faulty implementation of Aadhaar.

“MLAs were under tremendous pressure from public. There was a meeting of MLAs at CM’s residence. Chief secretary refused to answer questions saying that he was not answerable to MLAs and CM and that he was answerable only to L-G. He even used bad language against some MLAs and left without answering any questions,” the AAP government said in a statement. “Now he is making such ludicrous allegations. Obviously, he is doing it at BJP’s (Bharatiya Janata Party’s) behest. BJP has stooped very low in disrupting governance in Delhi through L-G and officers. If chief secretary can make such wild allegations, one can imagine the kind of obstacles that are being created in AAP govt’s work by BJP through the officers,” it added.

Prakash on Tuesday met L-G Anil Baijal to register a complaint against two MLAs for allegedly assaulting him. Prakash also met Union home minister Rajnath Singh. There has also been a first information report (FIR) filed against the two legislators.

In his complaint, Prakash said that he was called for a meeting on the release of a television advertisement and that he was assaulted, allegedly for not doing enough publicity for the government.

“I am deeply pained by the happenings involving the Chief Secretary of the Delhi Government. The civil servants should be allowed to work with dignity and without fear,” Rajnath Singh said on Twitter.

The Union home ministry has sought a report on the matter from the L-G after a delegation of civil servants from Delhi, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands as well as subordinate services of the Delhi government met Singh. Members of the subordinate services in Delhi went on a strike which they said would continue until the guilty are arrested.

“Strongly condemn the assault on Chief Secretary, Delhi. It’s a criminal, cowardly & deplorable act and an assault on the Constitution. We stand by our colleagues in Delhi and demand immediate arrest of the perpetrators of such shameful act,” the Indian Administrative Service Association said on Twitter.

There was chaos in the Secretariat as AAP leaders, including cabinet minister Imran Hussain and Ashish Khetan, were assaulted by a mob. Legislators Prakash Jarwal and Ajay Dutt lodged a complaint with the SC/ST Commission alleging that casteist comments were made against them by the chief secretary.

The situation in the Secretariat was so tense that the Delhi government had to change the venue of its cabinet meeting to the CM’s residence. Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia announced the decisions taken at the meeting in a press conference held at his home. “The environment that is trying to be created in the Secretariat… Ministers are being attacked. It is quite visible that the work of the Delhi government is being stopped. The cabinet meeting also had to be moved to the CM residence. The allegations made by the chief secretary are baseless. There are people being beaten up in the Secretariat,” Sisodia said.

Delhi is a special state where matters related to land, and law and order come under the central home ministry. In 2015, the then newly formed AAP government had opposed the appointment of senior bureaucrat Shakuntala Gamlin as the acting chief secretary accusing her of being close to power companies.

Opposition parties on Tuesday criticized the AAP and warned of administrative paralysis.

“A constitutional crisis looms over Delhi. First time we saw a chief secretary being assaulted on the directions of a CM. AAP and anarchy have become synonymous. It has no relations with Constitution,” BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra, said.

“Will be a very dangerous situation if Delhi goes towards administrative paralysis. Delhi L-G should immediately meet chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Confidence should be restored among administrative officers,” Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken said.livemint