LG-Delhi government tussle intensifies; departments won’t meet ministers

New Delhi: Power tussle between Lt. Governor (LG) Anil Baijal and the Delhi’s AAP government intensified on Monday, with Speaker Ram Niwas Goel stating that the LG has said he cannot accept any questions in the assembly on reserved subjects, like land, law and order, and services, among others.

“Secretariat has also received copies of letters from some departments such as Services, Vigilance, and Land and Building refusing to attend meetings with the ministers concerned,” the Speaker said in the assembly.

However, Goel stressed that legislation on reserved subjects and seeking replies on matters of public interest are two different issues and hence he ruled that “officers are duty-bound to provide replies to all questions which are admitted (by the assembly)”.

The Lt. Governor had sent a letter to the Law Department of Delhi government stating that the Speaker cannot accept any questions in the Assembly on reserved subjects, after he took an opinion from the Legal Affairs Department of Central government.

“Delhi Assembly is not subordinate to any central government ‘babu’,” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said in the House as both members of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members said that all questions raised by the assembly should be answered.

The issue came up in the Assembly after Sisodia said that “no answer has been received till now” on a question regarding details of foreign trips of officials.

He said the question was sent by the Finance Department to the General Administration Department and it was later forwarded to the Services Department, which is a reserved subject.

AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj said that officers have to be called to the House to get the answer and added that the Lt. Governor was protecting the officers with the Central government’s support.

Last week, an assembly question by AAP MLA Akhilesh Pati Tripati on foreign trips of AAP ministers was also not answered.

Referring to this, BJP MLA and Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta said that along with details of officers’ foreign trips, ministers’ trips should be made available.

Gupta also said that the assembly should get answers to all questions and added that the matter was above politics.

Meanwhile, AAP MLA Alka Lamba said the Lt. Governor should take back the letter as it weakens democracy.