Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday accused senior bureaucrat Shakuntala Gamlin of attempting to mislead Power Minister Satyendra Jain, allegedly in connivance with power companies.
Principal Secretary (Power) Gamlin — who took charge as acting chief secretary on Saturday — is at the centre of the latest flashpoint in the ongoing tussle between Kejriwal and Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung. The Chief Minister objected to her elevation by Jung after Chief Secretary K K Sharma went on leave for 10 days on May 13, and accused Gamlin of lobbying for power companies. On Saturday, Kejriwal tweeted asking Delhiites whether “a person perceived to be very close” to power firms be made chief secretary.
On Sunday, however, Kejriwal left Jung out and directly accused the central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of creating problems for the Delhi government.
“Delhi government has a power department and the department has a secretary. When our government was formed (in February), the secretary came to our power minister and asked him to sign on a paper,” Kejriwal told a gathering of autorickshaw drivers in Burari.
“Our minister asked what that was. She (Gamlin) told him that the power companies in Delhi were taking a loan of Rs 11,000 crore from a bank. This is a ‘comfort letter’ regarding that. The minister asked, what is a comfort letter? She told him it was just a formality,” Kejriwal said.
“The minister refused to sign, but she was after him for the next 15-20 days, asking him to sign the letter. When the minister inquired, he found out that it was not a comfort letter, but a guarantee.
“These power companies, companies of Reliance, were securing a loan of Rs 11,000 crore, and the secretary had come to get a guarantee signed on behalf of the Delhi government,” the Chief Minister said. “Our minister was smart, hence, he refused to sign. Had he signed it, the people of Delhi would have had to bear the consequences if Reliance failed to repay the the bank loan. Power bills would have then increased two- or three-fold in Delhi.
Kejriwal said that Gamlin was appointed the Chief Secretary of Delhi despite objections raised by his government.
“We opposed the appointment of Chief Secretary (Gamlin), but Modi’s government appointed her as CS. We have been struggling for last four days, but Modi’s government wanted to Delhi government to fail,” he alleged.
He added that his government would keep a tab on Gamlin’s work as acting Chief Secretary for the next 10 days and would ensure that every file going to the Chief Secretary’s office passes through the Chief Minister’s Office.
“It raises suspicions that they (BJP-led central government) will do something wrong in 10 days, but I assure you that I will keep a tab on her (Gamlin) and every file will go through me,” he said.
“We opposed a secretary like this,” Kejriwal said. “And Narendra Modi’s BJP government appointed the same secretary as the acting chief secretary of Delhi. We have been fighting for the last four days. But the Narendra Modi government wants the Delhi government to fail,” he said.
“She (Gamlin) has been made the CS for ten days. Why was she made the CS? When she has been appointed amid so much opposition, a suspicion is created that in 10 days they might get some gadbad kaam (fishy business) carried out by her. But I want to assure you that as long as I am here, I will not let her commit any gadbad kaam, and I will monitor each and every file of hers.”
At the end of his address, Kejriwal said, “I ask you all. Should a secretary who is in cahoots with power companies be made the chief secretary of Delhi?”
The 1,000-strong crowd at the Autorickshaw Samvad, a solid Aam Aadmi Party votebank, shouted, “No, never.”
“The BJP lost the election, and then did not let elections take place in Delhi for a year. And when elections were held, AAP won 67 seats. The BJP and Congress are now rattled. They are trying to interfere with everything that the Delhi government is trying to do,” Kejriwal said.
Transport Minister Gopal Rai, who was present at the public meeting, said, “LG issues an order that an officer has to follow his directions. That is what they had been doing for a year. Our government was not in power then. And if we have to follow what was being followed during President’s Rule in Delhi, then what is the need for a government elected by lakhs of people? What will the government do if you (LG) want to do everything? We will not bend, we will not move, we will not compromise, and we will keep fighting the dishonest.”
Rai claimed the BJP feared that if the Delhi government continued its hard work, it might fulfill its promises in four years instead of five. “Keep the faith. We will change Delhi with Kejriwal as chief minister, and after five years, we will change the country by making Kejriwal the prime minister. This will happen in India,” Rai said.