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Change of guard at Raj Nivas likely

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, MAY 15 . With installation of a Congress-led Government at the Centre a mere formality now, speculation is rife about the impending exit of the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi, VijaI Kapoor, from Raj Nivas as he was appointed by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Government at the Centre soon after coming to power in 1998. Some changes could also be witnessed in other important posts connected with Delhi.

Mr. Kapoor, who took over as the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi on April 20, 1998, has had a prolonged tenure. A close confidante of the former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, he has already completed more than six years in office. He had taken over from the former Lieutenant-Governor, Tejendra Khanna, appointed by the United Front Government. However, with the ouster of the BJP-led Government from the Centre now, it is almost certain that a change of guard is in the offing in Raj Nivas. Several political observers feel that there is a distinct possibility that Mr. Kapoor might put in his papers rather than wait for the Central Government to show him the door. His affiliations with the BJP leadership are well known and it is unlikely that he will find favour with the newly installed Congress-led coalition at the Centre.

In fact, the Congress Government in Delhi and Raj Nivas did not enjoy best of the relations and the Congress Government had always accused Raj Nivas of putting hurdles in the smooth functioning of the Government. The Sheila Dikshit Government and Mr. Kapoor have been at loggerheads on a number of occasions and matters had reached the boiling point on a number of occasions.

Many of the Ministers in the Sheila Dikshit Cabinet had always talked about interference from Raj Nivas and the efforts to stall developmental works. It was during the tenure of Mr. Kapoor that a major bribery scam took place in the Delhi Development Authority of which he is the Chairman. A number of land allotments to the Sangh Parivar associates in Delhi, including construction of a temple on the banks of river Yamuna, were done during his tenure. As the Lieutenant-Governor and having control over land, Mr. Kapoor had not only overruled the elected Government on several occasions but had also changed the plans of developmental works. A number of flyover and overhead bridge projects were stalled or altered despite being cleared by the DDA Technical Committee at his behest. It was only the former Tourism and Transport Minister, Ajay Maken, who refused to budge under pressure from Raj Nivas with regard to the Lajpat Nagar flyover project and went ahead with the construction.

On the other hand, the new Government at the Centre could also change the Chairman of the Delhi Development Authority and also reconstitute the New Delhi Municipal Council. There could also be changes in the administrative set-up of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi as the Ministry of Home Affairs controls it. However, sources said the new regime might continue with K.K. Paul as the Police Commissioner as he is seen as an upright and honest man. However, changes in the police at the Joint Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police level cannot be ruled out as the BJP leaders had put many of their favourite officers in important posts before the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls in the Capital.

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