AAP ki Jung!
Turf wars often get messy and the current tussle between Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and lieutenant-governor Najeeb Jung over the appointment of a temporary chief secretary is getting increasingly dirty. While legal experts are applying their mind to decipher who is on a stronger wicket Constitution-wise, caught in the middle are the babus.
It is clear that the battle will not end anytime soon. Mr Kejriwal transferred and “locked out” principal secretary Anindo Majumdar for recommending names for the position of acting chief secretary to Mr Jung. Though both L-G and Mr Kejriwal claim that their slugfest has not impacted the administration, several senior bureaucrats are scrambling to find an exit. Apparently, 45 officers, including IAS and DANICS (Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Services), have submitted leave applications, and six officers have already proceeded on leave. Some others are seeking transfers out of Delhi. Rumours are that K.K. Sharma, whose 10-day leave started this punch-up, has sought extension of leave and may, in fact, not return to the post.
There is much consternation in the capital’s cultural circles over the government’s views on autonomy of the nation’s leading cultural institutions.
Last month, Modi sarkar showed its resolve to fill the vacancies in 10 premier national cultural organisations by appointing K.K. Mittal, additional secretary in the ministry of culture, as chairman of the Lalit Kala Akademi.
It effectively brought the organisation under the aegis of the ministry for at least three years. Naturally, the cultural cognoscenti are upset by the takeover of their turf by bureaucrats. Interestingly, the director of the National Museum, Venu Vasudevan, who happens to be an IAS officer, was abruptly transferred to the sports ministry. There are other changes in the offing. But if the reaction to Mr Mittal’s appointment is any indication, the government is not sufficiently impressing the capital’s cultural czars.
Filling the vacuum
The vacuum at the top in several institutions has become a major worry. Last week this columnist explained how the Public Sector Enterprises Selection Board is facing a “quality” crunch. Since then there has been some sporadic movement.
Apparently, the government is in high drive to appoint Rahul Khullar’s successor at the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Reportedly, it has interviewed seven candidates, including five secretary-level officers at the Centre. They include information technology secretary R.S. Sharma, information and broadcasting secretary Bimal Julka, commerce secretary Rajeev Kher, defence secretary R.K. Mathur, steel secretary Rakesh Singh and former telecom secretary M.F. Farooqi. A decision is expected soon. Similarly, the appointment of a new CVC too is expected shortly, though that may be due to a shove from the Supreme Court.