Two days after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal came down heavily on alleged interference in the affairs of the elected AAP government during his address in the Delhi Legislative Assembly, asking “Who is the LG, where did he come from?”, Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena wrote to him, asking him to refer to the Constitution for the answer.
In his letter, L-G Saxena termed Kejriwal’s statements against him both in the Delhi Assembly and outside it as “substantively misleading, untrue and derogatory”.
Sharing a copy of the letter on Twitter, Kejriwal hit back on Friday, saying, “Received LG Sahib’s letter this morning. My answer to him. Sir, let us do our work, you fix the law and order of Delhi so that another case like Kanjhawala does not happen again…”. The chief minister was referring to the hit-and-run case that claimed the life of 20-year-old Anjali Singh, who was dragged under a car for over 10 km on January 1.
Questioning his alleged interference in matters of the Delhi government over a range of issues, Kejriwal had accused Saxena of constitutional overreach during his address to the House before leading a march to Raj Niwas and demanding that the L-G meet him and the 61 other AAP MLAs.
आज सुबह LG साहिब का पत्र मिला। उन्हें मेरा जवाब।
सर, हमें अपना काम करने दीजिए, आप दिल्ली की क़ानून व्यवस्था ठीक कीजिए ताकि कंझावला जैसा दूसरा केस फिर ना हो… pic.twitter.com/3ZTW2rpDG7
Referring to media reports related to his allegations against him, Saxena said some of these did not deserve a reply since they “cater to a very low level of discourse.” He also termed as “posturing” Kejriwal’s allegation that the L-G did not meet him after his march to Raj Niwas.
“I came to know through media reports that on Monday…you left the Assembly and were protesting with others outside Raj Niwas, demanding to meet me. Thereafter, I invited you and the Dy. Chief Minister to come and see me. I would have, indeed, loved to have you over and served you lunch as well” Saxena stated.
“However, you chose not to come on the pretext of wanting to meet me with all of your MLAs. You would appreciate that, given the short notice and sudden demand on your part, it would not have been possible to at once have a meeting with 70-80 people, nor would have it served any concrete purpose,” he added.
In response, Kejriwal said the entire population of Delhi felt insulted because he had refused to meet their elected representatives. “If the Delhi chief minister, deputy chief minister, the entire cabinet and all the MLAs were standing at your doorstep, it is obvious that it was regarding a significantly important problem related to the state” Kejriwal said.
“If you wanted, you could have met us for 5 minutes. That you did not do so has made the entire city feel bad. The people of Delhi feel insulted that the Lieutenant Governor refused to meet representatives elected by 2 crore people” he added.
In reference to the LG’s statement that he would have had Kejriwal and all other AAP MLAs over if he had been informed beforehand, Kejriwal said he accepted the LG’s invitation for lunch and would like to take him up on it on Saturday or at any other time as per his convenience
Saxena accused Kejriwal of political posturing by announcing that he had refused to meet him. “I must mention here that I was rather astounded at the fact that even as the city is grappling with several serious developmental issues, you found time to walk for long and stage a protest meant solely for posturing, rather than taking the issue to a logical conclusion by meeting me,” Saxena stated.
The L-G said he was glad that the issue of education and teacher training was being raised by the CM and AAP MLAs, following which he took on the AAP government over it. The L-G flagged that average attendance in government schools, which was 70.73% in 2012-2013 “consistently fell year on year” reaching 60.65% in 2019-2020, despite concerted efforts after their closure due to the Covid pandemic between March 2020 and June 2022, the numbers “went up to only 73.74%.“
“Enrolment in government schools that stood at 16.1 lakh during 2013-2014, consistently came down to 15.1 lakh in 2019-2020. This, despite the fact that population of the city grew and enrolment should have increased proportionately,” L-G Saxena said.
He also brought up the issue of no new schools having been built during the last eight years in Delhi despite the Delhi Development Authority allotting 13 plots to the education department since 2015.
“In this regard, right after taking over, I personally ensured that six plots were allotted in August 2022 for building schools by GNCTD (Government of NCT of Delhi). Adding classrooms in existing schools and counting toilets as classrooms, do not, by any stretch of imagination, amount to opening new schools, as you would appreciate,” he added.
Despite the AAP government’s “claims of unprecedented improvement in government education system in Delhi”, Saxena stated that the National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021 pegged the performance of about 30% students in Delhi government schools till Class VIII below basic levels and for about 44% students “barely basic”.
“Similarly, performance of about 33% students studying in Class X is below basic and for about 30%, it is barely basic. There is rampant math and science phobia among students of Delhi government schools and this results in the fact that only 21,340 out of 2,31,448 students studying in Class XII are in the Science stream,” he stated.
The L-G also questioned the AAP government’s claims related to higher enrolment in government schools. “Contrary to claims, the number of students going to private schools has increased in Delhi. While the share of private schools in 2013-2014 was 35%, the same went up to 43% in 2019-2020, and despite migration from private schools to government schools due to the pandemic distress, this number yet hovers around 40%,” Saxena said.
He also questioned the need to send teachers for training to Finland. “Irrespective of whether a 5-day trip to Finland will serve any purpose of substantive training to the visitors or would serve as an event to be played up in the media, I did not reject the proposal thereof,” he sought to clarify.
“I raised a few queries with respect to the impact assessment and cost benefit analysis of such visits which have been going on for past few years, and asked the department, whether such training could be obtained in a more cost-effective manner in our own Institutions of Excellence, like the IIMs,” L-G Saxena added.
Saxena pointed out that recently, he had cleared proposals of sending 55 principals and vice-principals of government schools to Cambridge in 2 batches for 10 days each, with specific training goals.
“While being on the subject, I would also like to bring to your attention the plight of 12 colleges of Delhi University, that are funded by GNCTD. Their representatives met me and submitted a memorandum detailing their grievances in terms of deliberate stopping of already sanctioned funds, non-payment of salaries and non-sanction of posts,” Saxena said.
There was much more in terms of scholarships to minorities and marginalised sections that he wanted to discuss with CM Kejriwal, the L-G stated.
“I reiterate, that I write to you, not only as the Lt. Governor of Delhi, but also as a concerned resident of the city. You are indeed a driven person, and I am sure that you will take cognizance of the facts stated above and take remedial measures to engage meaningfully and constructively to rectify the grave shortcomings, for better outcomes,” Saxena added.
Referring to what he termed was criticism of the AAP government’s education policy, Kejriwal said he accepted it wholeheartedly but also took the opportunity to point out that the party had been elected to power thrice.
“You have criticised our education policy a lot in your letter. The people of Delhi elected us with a historic mandate for the third time. We are doing good work in their eyes. But I still accept your criticism,” he stated.
“No system is perfect. Delhi’s education sector has witnessed massive changes compared to before. There is a long way to go. But some l would have achieved a lot more if the Centre and all its L-G sahabs had not put up obstructions in the path of the work of the people of Delhi over the last few years,” he added.
Despite the stoppage of funds for doctors, weren’t the mohalla clinics in Delhi doing good work, chief minister Kejriwal asked, cautioning the L-G against such politicking. “On one hand L-G sahab instructs officers to stop funds for the Delhi Jal Board and then says that the people of Delhi are not getting water? Sir, this kind of politics is not good. The L-G should avoid such politics” Kejriwal said.
The Constitution, he said, had given the L-G responsibility of law and order, the Delhi Police and the DDA. Today, Kejriwal alleged, the law and order situation of Delhi was the worst in the country.
“When Delhi is called the rape capital, the head of each Delhiite hangs in shame. Crimes against women are consistently increasing. It has become difficult for women to step out of their homes,” Kejriwal said.
“Chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women Swati Maliwal was just attacked. When the DCW chairperson is not safe, what do we say about the common female citizen?” he added.
To this day, Kejriwal alleged, the people of Delhi had only seen the LG interfere in the work of the AAP government instead of doing a single thing for the law and order situation.
“The people are very angry that you meddle in work related to them on a daily basis. If the people of Delhi want to send their teachers abroad for training, why do you stop them? When you stop their work daily, the people ask who is the LG to stop our work?” Kejriwal stated asking the LG to concentrate on his constitutional duties and let the AAP government do the work which the Constitution had empowered it to execute.