NATIONAL NEWS

After SC order, officers’ mindset has changed: Delhi minister

New Delhi, July 15: Ten days after the Supreme Court clipped the powers of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam says peoples perception about the Delhi government has changed. “Aam Aadmi Party’s MLAs and ministers are feeling more confident,” he told IANS. The Supreme Court has said the Lt. Governor is bound to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. Three subjects that have been kept off the Delhi government jurisdiction are land, police and public order.

Guatam said since July 4, official files are not going for approval to Baijal. “So, the development work has gained momentum. We now only have to inform him and not wait for his permission,” he said. “The order has restored the powers of the Delhi government. If I see the order as a lawyer, I would say services (mainly the power to shift officials) lie with the Delhi government. Many officers also believe the same,” he said. “They know that this fight is useless,” said Gautam, a law graduate from Delhi University. “The officers, who were earlier making excuses, are attending all our meetings and are working with us. They are helping in speeding up various projects.”

AAP’s chief spokesperson and MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj says there was a change in the attitude of the officers, but “it was felt only for a day”. “The day Supreme Court’s order came, the Chief Minister was welcomed by officers. The officers who were not picking our calls till last month started calling us on their own. Things then again changed with the LG asserting his position over the services department. The officers again started behaving in the usual manner,” he said.

“Most officers want to work. It is the Chief Secretary who is forcing them to not work. He directs them to create hurdles, and I don’t have to say who is ordering him,” he said. Last month, Kejriwal, along with three of his ministers, sat on a strike for nine days in Baijal’s office over non-cooperation of IAS officers. The Chief Minister had alleged the IAS officers in Delhi were on strike, and that they were boycotting meetings called by the ministers.

The officers maintained that they had not gone on strike, and that they were concerned about their safety following an alleged assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash by AAP MLAs in February. Bhardwaj says the government is doing all it can with the limited powers, be it CCTV installation, doorstep ration delivery or Signature Bridge construction.

In the last 10 days, the government has cleared several pending projects — two new academic blocks in the Delhi Technological University (DTU), free pilgrimage for senior citizens and in-principle approval for the hiring of a consultant to run 1,000 electric buses. Several on-going projects which were stuck because of the administrative tussle have also gained momentum. (IANS)