New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday blasted Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung for rejecting the appointment of Swati Maliwal as the chief of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) even as he sought Jung's approval for assigning her the job.
A day after Jung termed Maliwal's appointment "unconstitutional" and asserted his authority by describing himself as the "government", a furious Kejriwal shot back, accusing him of acting at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's behest.
In a strongly-worded letter, Kejriwal also told Jung that his claim that he (Jung) was the government in the capital was "laughable and unconstitutional".
"The only purpose I see in Lt. Governor's action is that the prime minister, through the Lt. Governor, wants to make the Delhi government bow to him.
"The Lt. Governor says that Lt. Governor himself is the Delhi government. How is this possible? How can one individual claim to be the 'government'? If that was that case, there would be dictatorship in Delhi.
"There can be nothing more laughable than this. India is a democracy. There is an elected government in Delhi. The 'Delhi government' stands for the elected government, not an individual."
Hitting out at Modi, Kejriwal said it was at his bidding that Jung made the DCW "totally ineffective" -- the same way he acted vis-a-vis the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB).
Kejriwal maintained that the Delhi government had every right to appoint members to the DCW.
But he said he was sending Maliwal's appointment file for Jung's approval as it was vital that the DCW should start work at the earliest.
"Lt. Governor, Prime Minister have won, and all of us have been defeated. I now pray with folded hands that you sign the file and get the DCW going. I am sending the file to you," Kejriwal said sarcastically.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader, who has had more than one public spat with Jung since taking power in February, said Jung's decision to lock up the DCW office and insist on seeing Maliwal's file was "totally illegal and unconstitutional. This is clear blackmail".
"But it is important for public good that the DCW should function in an appropriate manner," he said.
"Women are facing crime and injustice in Delhi. I hope the new DCW will be able to deliver justice.
"The issue of DCW is very important and sensitive. For us, this is not an ego battle."
In his communication of Wednesday rejecting Maliwal's appointment, Jung described his office as "the government" in Delhi.
Meanwhile, Maliwal said her staff was locked out of the DCW office, and her nameplate was removed.
"I do not understand politics. I am here to work and to solve the problems of women. When my staff reached there at 10.30 a.m., the office was locked and my nameplate was removed from my cabin," she said.
She told the media that she was positive. "I respect the LG and will obey whatever decision comes."
Kejriwal's target - he has been at it for some time now - in Thursday's communication was clearly Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party was routed by the AAP in the February Delhi election.
Jung and Kejriwal have been locked in an acrimonious battle over governance in Delhi, particularly on the posting of officials in the Delhi government. Delhi Police reports to Jung, not to Kejriwal.