Delhi floods bring AAP vs LG battle out in open

Delhi Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj accuses bureaucrats of negligence; LG VK Saxena says now is not the time for blame game

| Updated: 14 July, 2023 7:41 pm IST
Delhi ministers Saurabh Bharadwaj and Atishi with Delhi LG VK Saxena 

NEW DELHI: As Delhi’s busiest traffic intersection was inundated with the flood, the difference between the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena came out in the open.

As floods in Delhi reached the footsteps of the Supreme Court, videos emerged that show Delhi minister Saurabh Bharadwaj and LG Saxena exchanging more than pleasantries as they take stock of the situation at the ITO crossing.

Bharadwaj, who is also the Delhi Health minister and Delhi Jal Board Chairman, criticised bureaucrats for failing to follow orders during an emergency.

Bharadwaj, standing alongside Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, interrupted LG Saxena, who was speaking to the press, to express his frustration.

He revealed that he had requested the Chief Secretary the previous night to call the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for assistance in repairing the damaged drain regulator responsible for the flooding in the ITO area. However, his requests were ignored by the authorities.

“We wrote to the Chief Secretary on the WhatsApp group to call the NDRF, else flood water may enter sensitive areas of Delhi. We also asked the District Magistrate. But, last night, our messages were ignored,” Bharadwaj stated, raising concerns about the effectiveness of the system under the newly implemented ordinance.

Taking to Twitter, Bharadwaj publicly named the Divisional Commissioner and accused him of repeatedly ignoring their pleas for assistance. He questioned the ability of the government to function if IAS officials ignored the directives of their ministers, particularly during emergencies. He also emphasised the urgency of the situation and the need for decisive action.

In response, LG Saxena called for unity and emphasised that it was not the time to assign blame. He urged cooperation and teamwork in resolving the crisis, rather than engaging in a blame game.

“I would like to tell you that this is not the time to blame someone or make comments. Right now, we need to work together. I too can say a lot of things, but this is not needed right now,” he said.

CM Kejriwal, who had visited the flooded area connecting key parts of Delhi, expressed his belief that the situation could have been prevented if the NDRF had been present at the site the previous night, as his government had requested. He confirmed that the Army had been deployed to assist in resolving the issue.

In a tweet, Arvind Kejriwal acknowledged that the breach in the drain regulator was the cause of the flooding and directed officials to urgently seek the assistance of the Army and disaster relief forces to rectify the situation. He assured the public that measures were being taken to resolve the issue promptly.

This latest clash between the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor reflects the ongoing power struggle over governance in the national capital.

The Delhi government has accused Saxena of obstructing development work in Delhi, citing the controversial ordinance introduced by the Centre that overturned a Supreme Court judgment granting the Delhi government greater control over its bureaucrats.

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