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Ministers not heeding calls for meetings: Delhi LG to Centre | Latest News Delhi


Lieutenant governor (LG) VK Saxena’s office has written to the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) accusing Delhi’s cabinet ministers of a “lack of a seriousness”, after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest, when asked to attend meetings convened by the LG, officials aware of the matter said on Monday.

Lieutenant governor (LG) VK Saxena’s office has accused Delhi’s ministers of lack of seriousness in a letter to the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA). (HT Photo)

The officials said Saxena called for two meetings with the ministers — on March 29 and on April 2 — but said they skipped both, citing “lame excuses”.

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In response, the AAP claimed that the bureaucracy in Delhi has become “unanswerable and unaccountable” to the government, and accused the LG of targeting the elected government of Delhi.

Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 21 in connection with a money laundering probe pertaining to alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy 2021-22. He is currently lodged in Tihar jail.

“Upon the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal, CM of Delhi, and subsequent events, especially those related to public health infrastructure in the city, the impending Summer Action Plan for water availability, etc playing out in public domain, LG had decided to convene a meeting of key Delhi ministers dealing with departments of water, education, health, transport, environment and forest etc. An intimation was accordingly sent to Gopal Rai, Kailash Gahlot, Atishi and Saurabh Bhardwaj for a meeting by LG on April 2. However, all the ministers have vide e-mails, declined to attend the said meeting on the specious ground that since the Model Code of Conduct is in force, such a meeting would not be appropriate at this stage,” officials in the LG’s office said. citing a letter written by Saxena’s principal secretary Ashish Kundra to Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla.

“LG believes that a consultation of this nature was warranted so that routine works of governance are not hampered, in the backdrop of arrest and detention of CM. Curiously, the ministers chose to disregard the public importance of subjects under discussion. The rationale adduced for not attending the meeting appears vague and exhibits lack of seriousness and insensitivity to matters affecting the day-to-day lives of the citizens of Delhi,” the officials said.

The officials said that the letter has been written with the approval of the LG. However, HT has not seen the letter.

According to the officials, the ministers refused to meet the LG, citing “lame excuses”.

“Delhi government ministers, especially health minister Saurabh Bhardwaj, under fire from the Delhi high court over lack of health infrastructure in the city, instead of solving issues, indulged in public mud-slinging and refused to meet the LG citing lame excuses. Bhardwaj, upon being asked for a meeting on March 29, sent a text to the LG Secretariat that read, ‘we wanted agenda for this meeting with Hon’ble LG…I do not think meeting can be called without the directions of Hon’ble CM. Please convey.’ Upon being shared the agenda for the meeting to be reconvened on April 2, Bhardwaj made the lame excuse of MCC (the model code of conduct) being in effect, despite his colleagues going public with a supposed letter from CM from ED custody, asking ministers to take advice of the LG if necessary in solving public issues,” the officials said.

“The rationale adduced for not attending the meeting appears vague and exhibits a lack of seriousness and insensitivity to matters affecting the day-to-day lives of the citizens of Delhi,” the officials said.

Responding to reports of the letter, the Delhi government in a statement said that the “repeated attacks” by the LG’s office were “shameful”.

“It is indeed shameful to see the repeated attacks from the Lieutenant Governor’s office targeting the elected government of Delhi. Following the GNCTD Amendment Act 2023, concerns have escalated as the bureaucracy appears increasingly hell bent, unanswerable and unaccountable to the elected government. Despite the LG’s assertion that he has no control over transferred subjects, questions arise regarding the relevance of his seeking meetings to discuss the same… Furthermore, urging the LG to carry out his constitutional duty, the government emphasises the need for tangible action beyond social media commentary, advocating for prompt inquiries and decisive measures against officers disregarding ministerial directives,” the statement said.

Separately, Bharadwaj in a statement questioned the authority with which the LG called the meeting with the ministers.

“Which article of the Constitution has given the power to the LG that he can call the elected ministers… With what authority is the LG calling a meeting of ministers on the subjects transferred to the state government? If the LG is so fond of running the government then he should also win the elections and run the government,” Bharadwaj said.



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