As Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal along with his cabinet colleagues is all set to spend the third night in a row at the Raj Niwas, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia launched an indefinite hunger strike and hundreds of AAP leaders and workers hit the road marching towards the L-G house.
Former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, who resigned from the BJP in April, was among those joining the march.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has planned a candle march at Rajpath on Thursday and warned of a protest at Prime Minister’s residence on Sunday if their demands were not met.
For the last three days, Kejriwal, Sisodia, Jain and Rai have been camping at the Raj Niwas to press for their demands — a direction to IAS officers working with the Delhi administration to end their “strike”, action against officers who have struck work for “four months” and approval to his government’s proposal for doorstep delivery of ration to the poor.
In a move to counter the sit-in protest by the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister and two Cabinet Ministers in the Delhi government — Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday also launched a protest highlighting the issues of water and electricity shortage in the national capital.
Meanwhile, several regional parties extended their support to the AAP cause on Wednesday, even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched a counter-protest, highlighting the issues of shortage of water and electricity in the national capital
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Manoj Jha tweeted to mark their support. Jha also visited the Chief Minister’s residence here to express solidarity with the AAP protest.
However, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken attacked Kejriwal over his protest calling him “No. 1 in holding dharnas”.
Kejriwal said he and his colleagues would not leave LG Anil Baijal’s office until their demands were met.
Jain is on a hunger strike since Tuesday morning, while Sisodia went on indefinite fast on Wednesday. Later in the day, Sisodia wrote to Baijal reiterating their demands.
Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel also wrote to Baijal over the IAS officers’ “strike”. He supported the demands of the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues.
AAP MP Sanjay Singh, who led the march to the LG house, wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking an appointment to brief him about the ongoing standoff between LG Baijal and the Delhi government.
Security has been beefed up outside the Raj Niwas, with paramilitary and police personnel deployed in a 2-km radius of the LG’s office, since Monday evening. More police personnel were deployed in the area in the wake of the march.
The L-G on Wednesday met Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba. Details of the meeting were not available immediately.
After three years, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is back in ‘dharna’ mode with two sit-ins in the last 30 days.
The activist-turned-politician launched his party in 2012 and became the Chief Minister of Delhi in December next year with the support of the Congress as his party won 28 seats in the Assembly elections.
Soon after becoming the Chief Minister, he along with his cabinet launched a protest in January 2014 when Kejriwal protested on the road outside the Rail Bhawan close to Parliament House, over the issue of control over Delhi Police, which is with the Centre.
After staying in power for 49 days, he resigned and proposed fresh elections as he failed in introducing the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill due to lack of majority in the Assembly.
In 2015, when Assembly elections were held in Delhi, the AAP won a massive majority securing 67 of the total 70 seats.
After that, as Chief Minister Kejriwal never protested over anything until last month when he along with all his MLAs sat on a ‘dharna’ on the road near the Lt Governor’s office urging him “not to stall” the CCTV project under “pressure from the BJP”.
Kejriwal and the MLAs went to meet the Lt Governor on May 14. But when the police did not allow them to enter, they squatted on the road. They protested for around three hours sitting on the road and chanting slogans against the LG and the BJP.
The protest was called off with the party deciding that it will reach out to the people to tell them that the “BJP and the LG are disrupting the installation of CCTV cameras in the city”.
The latest round of dramatic protest began at the LG’s house by Kejriwal with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and cabinet ministers Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai in the Raj Niwas, the official accommodation-cum-office of Lt. Governor Anil Baijal, since Monday evening. Sisodia and Jain have now launched an indefinite hunger strike.
The reason for the novel protest is the face-off between IAS officials and the AAP government after the alleged assault on the Chief Secretary.
On February 20, the Chief Secretary alleged that he was assaulted by two Aam Aadmi Party MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal in the presence of Kejriwal at the Chief Minister’s residence.
Following this, IAS officers in Delhi were not attending routine meetings called by the Ministers and the Chief Minister as “they (the Ministers) have failed to give any assurance till date regarding safety, security, dignity and respect to the officers including women officers,” IAS Association secretary Manisha Saxena had said.
The four went to the LG’s office on Monday at 5.30 p.m. to press their three demands, including a direction to IAS officers to end their “strike” and to take action against officers who have struck work for “four months”.
The Chief Minister also demanded approval to his government’s proposal to deliver rations to the poor at their homes.
Kejriwal said he and his colleagues would not leave Baijal’s office until their demands were met. As of now, there seems to be no end to the protest with Baijal not responding to their sit in. (IANS)