NEW DELHI: The new confrontation between Delhi's AAP government and the centre over the suspension of two central officials that triggered a mass protest leave by their colleagues may throw a spanner in the implementation of the ambitious 15-day odd-even vehicle restriction scheme to combat pollution from January 1.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of scuttling the scheme through Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung and these officials who he said were the "B team" of the Bharatiya Janata Party that leads the central government.
About 200 DANICS officials Delhi went on a one-day leave protesting the suspension of two colleagues who refused to sign the cabinet order to hike the salary of public prosecutors. Scores of IAS officers in the government also went on a half-day leave.
However, the Centre, which controls the DANICS (Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service) cadre, revoked Kejriwal's order, terming it null and void.
Subhash Chandra, special secretary (prisons), and Yashpal Garg, special secretary (prosecution), were suspended by Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain. They had argued that the order needed Jung's approval.
The development may affect the implementation of the road-rationing scheme on the success of which Kejriwal's government depends on its 10,000 civil defence volunteers and Delhi Police with which it has been carrying out a long-drawn war of words.
In a series of angry tweets, Kejriwal said: "Narendra Modi ji is taking a shot (on AAP government) by using L-G and these officers."
"L-G personally attended the DANICS association meeting yesterday thro speaker ph. LG in turn was in touch wid Nripendra Misra in PMO," he tweeted.
Misra is Modi's principal secretary.
The chief minister said bureaucrats and officers in the city government were the "full-fledged B teams" of the BJP and hinted at a crackdown against the dissident officers.
"People will be v happy if these officers go on long leave. Govt ready to give paid leave. Governance will become honest, smooth n efficient," he tweeted.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia told reporters at a press conference: "I want to ask why they went on mass leave before a day of odd-even scheme. PMO (officials) and LG were online (video-conferencing) in yesterday's meeting of DANICS association. Thereafter, a conspiracy was hatched."
Control over officers in the Delhi government has been the most contentious issue between the chief minister and the lt. governor with matters reaching the court.
The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Delhi president Satish Upadhyay condemned the suspension of the two officers, saying the city government was harassing officials and demanded Jain's resignation.
"The suspension of two special secretaries is completely a wrong administrative decision. The BJP strongly opposes such harassment of officials and demands Jain's resignation," he said.
He alleged that the Home Minister Jain was pressuring officials under his ministry to sign a file pertaining to the revision of pay scale of its standing counsel Rahul Mehra.
BJP Lok Sabha member Meenkashi Lekhi said the AAP government was looking for an escape route since the scheme was bound to fail.
"This exercise is a faulted exercise. It is bound to fail. They are looking for an escape route and there is nothing better than putting the onus on the central government. If you really want to deal with pollution, there are better ways to deal with it," Lekhi said.
The odd-even formula will be tried out for 15 days from January 1 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. except on Sundays.
Cars with odd registration numbers will be allowed to ply only on odd dates (January 1, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15) and those with even registration numbers on even dates (January 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 14). Sundays (January 3 and 10) will be restriction free.
Exemption has been given to 25 categories of motorists including women drivers, bikers, emergency vehicles and a host of VIPs.