Updated: February 20, 2018 9:02:11 pm
A late night meeting between AAP MLAs and Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence became the latest flashpoint between the Opposition and the AAP government. The meeting, convened by Kejriwal, took place at around 12 am on Monday. Prakash claimed he was summoned by the chief minister to explain why there was a delay in the release of TV advertisements in connection with the government completing three years in office. Chief Minister Kejriwal and his deputy, Manish Sisodia, were present at the meeting, Prakash said.
He claimed the MLAs became agitated during the meeting and accused the administration of not doing enough for publicising the government’s social efforts. A few MLAs even issued verbal threats, he said. And without any provocation, Prakash claimed, AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan and another MLA rained blows on his head.
“My spectacles fell on the ground. I was in a state of shock. With difficulty, I was able to leave the room and get into my official car and leave CM residence. At no stage did I retaliate or provoke any person in the room despite confinement, criminal intimidation by extending threat to my life, and assault by several MLAs while I was discharging my official duties,” he said in a statement.
The AAP, however, rejected the allegation as “ludicrous” and accused Prakash of allegedly working at the BJP’s behest.
Best of Express Premium
MHA seeks report
Taking cognizance of the alleged attack on Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, the Union Home Minister sought a detailed report over the incident from Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was deeply pained over the incident. “I am deeply pained by the happenings involving the Chief Secretary of the Delhi Government. The civil servants should be allowed to work with dignity and without fear,” he tweeted.
He also met a delegation of IAS officers from the Delhi government who apprised him of the situation.
The main Opposition in the Delhi Assembly, the Bharatiya Janata Party, demanded Kejriwal to step down and called for a high-level inquiry against him. Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari described the purported assault against chief secretary Anshu Prakash as an act of “urban naxalism” by AAP MLAs. Demanding their suspension, Tiwari tweeted: “ArvindKejriwal and his Goon MLAs misbehaved and threatened the Chief secretary of NCT Delhi Government last night… another shameful act of @AamAadmiParty Goons… an act of Urban Naxalism… #UrbanNaxaliteKejriwal must Resign (sic).”
Echoing his sentiments, a senior BJP leader claimed that in total, nine AAP MLAs were present at the chief minister’s residence when Prakash was assaulted.
“They represent the people of Delhi but are nothing short of Urban Naxalites. How utterly disgusting behaviour!” he said.
Meanwhile, Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken demanded that Chief Minister Kejriwal apologise for the “hooliganism” of his MLAs.
“Kejriwal should apologise for this hooliganism which took place before him-AAP Govt is unable to deliver-Beating of Chief Secretary by MLAs in front of CM is another low & is aimed to divert attention from Govt failures! AAP does not know Governance and has failed miserably (sic),” Maken said in a tweet.
Former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit questioned Kejriwal, a former bureaucrat himself, how he allowed the alleged assault to happen before his presence. “Sad situation when the Chief Secretary is being manhandled by MLAs. It’s totally unacceptable and very very wrong, makes it worse if the CM was present there. CM himself has been a civil servant, did he ever do this? Or what if this happened to him? Shameful,” she told news agency ANI.
AAP MLA heckled
As the situation unfolded in the day, Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain was mobbed by over hundred officials and staff at the Delhi secretariat. They raised slogans against the AAP government and prevented Hussain from reaching his office on the sixth floor. Police was called in to control the crowd and escort the minister to his office. He later filed a complaint at the IP Estate Police Station alleging that he was assaulted. When asked about the incident, Hussain told PTI, “I don’t know whether they were government employees, but I will identify them.”
However, Deepak Bharadwaj, general secretary of the Delhi Government Employees Association, denied the allegations and claimed that the minister arrived when sloganeering was going on but nobody manhandled him.
Hundreds of government officials gathered at the second floor of the Delhi Secretariat, demanding that FIR be lodged against AAP MLAs, who allegedly assaulted the chief secretary.
One of the few AAP MLAs present at Monday night’s meeting, MLA Ajay Dutt shot off an email to the commissioner of police, alleging that Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash “abused” and used “casteist” remarks against him and another MLA, Prakash Jarwal.
Demanding an FIR against the chief secretary, Dutt said he had asked Prakash about complaints regarding ration distribution in his constituency (Ambedkarnagar), but the CS misbehaved and left the meeting.
After the incident, the chief secretary met Lt Governor Anil Baijal and apprised him of the incident, he added. The IAS officers association met Baijal today and raised the issue before him.
IAS body reaction
Condemning the alleged manhandling of the Delhi chief secretary by a few AAP MLAs last night, two IAS bodies Tuesday met Lt Governor Anil Baijal to lodge their protest over the matter and said the incident appears to be “pre-planned and pre-meditated”.
Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash was allegedly manhandled by a few AAP MLAs at the chief minister’s residence in presence of Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia. However, the chief minister’s office dismissed the accusation as “bizarre and baseless”.
According to an official, Prakash was called by Kejriwal regarding the issue of advertisements, which were not being released. But, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) claimed that he had been called for a discussion on rations.
IAS, DANICS associations, along with the Delhi Administration Subordinate Services (DASS), alleged that the meeting was called last night to put pressure on the chief secretary to release publicity material regarding achievements of the AAP government, in violation of the Supreme court guidelines.
The meeting was devoid of any emergency or public interest, they claimed.
“The incident which has happened at the official residence of the chief minister clearly appears to pre-planned, pre-meditated and absolutely without any provocation on the part of the chief secretary in view of the fact that the meeting was called at midnight…
“The meeting had been called to put pressure him to release publicity material regarding achievements of the government,” the associations said in a joint statement.
They stated it was a culmination of a series of incidents of officers being subjected to verbal abuse and intimidation by political authorities from time to time and tend to lead to impairment of the effective functioning of bureaucracy in free and impartial manner.
The associations have in the past, repeatedly urged the political parties to allow the officials to discharge their duties professionally, the statement said.
“The appalling and shocking physical assault meted out to the head of the administration of Delhi, in form of blows on the head, amounting to threat to life and physical safety is deplorable,” they said, adding that in public interest, the officers and staff would continue to work in their offices.
“We request for effective action to be taken against all people behind the incident,” the associations said.
With PTI inputs
📣 Join our Telegram channel (The Indian Express) for the latest news and updates
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.