Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung turned poetic when an aide insisted that he should react to the allegations of irregularities made by the Aam Aadmi Party on his role in restoring the licence of a ration shop. Jung quoted a couplet of Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar: “Umr-e-daraaz maang kar laaye they chaar din/do arzoo mein kat gaye aur do ikhtalaf mein” [Sought a life time of four days, two were spent in making wishes and two in disagreements].
The relationship between the Kejriwal government and the LG has reached a new low, with the AAP launching attacks on him on different fronts, even demanding his arrest in the murder of M.M. Khan, a law officer of the New Delhi Municipal Corporation. The AAP is up in arms now because the anti-corruption bureau, that reports to Jung, has named Kejriwal in the 1400 crore water tanker scam, along with former chief minister Sheila Dikshit. In a sharp retaliation, AAP MLAs submitted a petition to Jung, demanding that he should name himself as a co-accused in four cases filed by the AAP government.
The tussle has intensified with the arrest of AAP MLA Dinesh Mohaniya on charges of molestation.
Under severe attack from the Kejriwal government, Jung has maintained silence. Though, sources in his office said there is a huge difference between official communications and what comes in the media. For example, they said, it is completely untrue to say that the Centre has returned 14 bills passed by the Delhi assembly. None of the bills, apparently, have been returned by the ministry of home affairs. Ten bills were passed by the assembly and five legislative proposals are with the MHA. The offices of the chief minister and the deputy chief minister, they said, have been in touch with the LG’s office to find out about the bills.
A source close to Jung said that while Kejriwal and his party colleagues can attack him viciously and indulge in name calling, as a constitutional authority, there is a limit to which Jung can react. “He cannot participate in TV debates. He cannot enter a slugfest with them,” the source said. Jung, according to the source, continues to extend all courtesies to the chief minister and his cabinet colleagues. BJP and Congress leaders insist that the rules of transaction of government business are clearly laid out. “Previous governments have also worked under the same rules,” said Congress leader Sharmistha Mukherjee. “But things never dipped to such a low.”
THE BJP HAS accused Kejriwal of resorting to attacks on constitutional authorities to hide his own failures. Said Vijender Gupta, leader of opposition in Delhi assembly, “He is not concentrating on delivering on his promises and working for development of Delhi. Rather, he is playing petty politics and maligning constitutional authorities. It is very painful to see him attack the LG time and again.”
Kejriwal’s real target could be Modi, not Jung. At a recent interaction with women journalists, when THE WEEK asked Kejriwal about the breakdown of communication and trust between the Centre and the Delhi government, he said he did reach out to Modi, but did not get the desired response. Said Kejriwal, “I met him in August. I asked him, why are you so angry with us? He did not say anything. He was quiet. He then said you say all this on TV all the time. You were seeking the meeting for the past one-and-a-half months. I thought you will say something new.”
Jung, it appears, is caught in the crossfire.