NEW DELHI: The Lieutenant Governor has shot down the Delhi government’s proposal to “home deliver” basic public services — from birth certificates to social welfare schemes — Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said today. Calling it a “huge setback” to the government’s efforts to provide good and corruption-free governance, Mr Sisodia questioned whether the Lieutenant Governor should “have the power” to express difference of opinion with the elected government on such “critical matters of public interest and be able to scuttle such measures”.
Late in the evening, a communique from the office of the Lieutenant Governor said Anil Baijal had not rejected the proposal but advised that it be reconsidered and suggested an alternative model.
The issue is seen as the next likely flashpoint in the ongoing clash between the Arvind Kejriwal-led government and the Centre, as Mr Sisodia expressed his indignation in a series of tweets.
The Lieutenant Governor said the present proposal has implications for the “safety and security of women and senior citizens”, the possibility of corruption, bad behaviour, breach of privacy, loss of documents and would incur unnecessary expenditure for the government and the people. He also pointed out that the trips by the agency employees would add to the congestion and pollution on the roads.
Mr Baijal, the communique said, had suggested that the government shift to 100 per cent online delivery of services. “This is achievable in Delhi as 35 out of 40 services proposed by the government for door step delivery are already available online,” the communique read.
The scheme, announced a month ago by Mr Kejriwal, was seen as a big people-friendly initiative, which the government had pegged as a “first in the world”. Under it, an agency was expected to come to people’s homes and help with the paperwork so that people do not have to repeatedly stand in long queues at government offices.
“Delhi people will have time to work on actual things rather than going to find documents and filing them,” Mr Sisodia had said while announcing the project. In the first phase, the project was expected to cover 40 services and 30 more were to be added every month.
Today, the Deputy Chief Minister said the plan had received a huge thumbs up from the people.
Questioning Anil Baijal’s response, he pointed out that while most of these services are already digital, the people were facing problems availing them. “Despite digitalization, most people still hv to run around govt offices with docs etc,” another of his tweets read.
Since the Arvind Kejriwal government came to power in 2015, there has been a series of power tussles between his government and the Lieutenant Governor, whom his party sees as the Centre’s representative. The government has repeatedly accused Lieutenant Governors — first Najeeb Jung and then his successor Mr Baijal — of overstepping their limits, curtailing the power of the Delhi government and pushing the agenda of the BJP-led Central Government.
The Kejriwal government has gone to court on the matter, complaining that the Lieutenant Governor has been sitting on their proposals and schemes.
Last month, the Supreme Court had strong words for Mr Anil Baijal. “He (the Lieutenant Governor) is bound to pass the difference of opinions (between the LG and the Delhi Council of Ministers) to the President for early resolution,” the court had said.