Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and three of his cabinet colleagues, Manish Sisodia, Satyendra Jain and Gopal Rai went to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal's House on Monday evening, demanding that he help end the stand-off between Delhi's bureaucrats and the government and give clearance to a scheme for door-to-door delivery of rations for the poor. With no response from the L-G, they plan to stay put for the second night. "We are here because we love Delhi and care for Delhi. We have worked very hard for Delhi and we want it to further improve. We feel shattered because many great initiatives are getting stuck. Let's improve our beloved Delhi, LG Sir. And let's do it together", tweeted Kejriwal.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a video message released on Tuesday told Delhiites that he is protesting for them as he and three of his Ministers prepared to continue their sit-in in the Raj Niwas drawing room for another night.
“The protest is for you all, for the people of Delhi, so that you can get roads, schools, hospitals, Mohalla Clinics, water and electricity,” Kejriwal said in the video that was put out in the social media and also circulated on various WhatsApp groups.
Kejriwal claimed the IAS officers were “only working on important files” and “not responding to Ministers’ calls and messages, and not attending our meetings”.
“People of Delhi are suffering, the work planned for Delhi by the government is suffering,” he said, adding: “He (LG) asked us to seek permission from the Centre. We all know what does it mean. The file will go and will remain there for five years.”
Kejriwal, along with his three senior Ministers — Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai — has been camping in the Raj Niwas, the official accommodation-cum-office of Lt. Governor Anil Baijal, since Monday evening.
The Delhi Chief Minister said he and his colleagues would not leave Baijal’s office until their demands were met. Jain also started an indefinite hunger strike since Tuesday morning.
The Raj Niwas called it a “protest without reason”.
The demands include a direction to IAS officers working in 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.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s national secretary Pankaj Gupta said that on Wednesday all party MLAs would gather at the Chief Minister’s residence at 4 p.m and march to LG’s house and protest there.
The AAP leaders also exhorted the common people of Delhi through a video message to join the protest march.
The police have already beefed up security outside Raj Niwas, with paramilitary and police personnel deployed in a 2-kilometre radius of the LG’s office.
“Kejriwal was forced to take the step as the Lt. Governor was not listening to the Delhi government’s demand,” Gupta told the media.
He also said that there had been no communication from the Lt. Governor’s office till Tuesday evening and hence Kejriwal and others would stay put there.
According to party sources, no food was served to the Ministers from the Lt. Governor’s office, though party supporters and the Chief Minister’s residence was supplying them food.
AAP leaders also hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with many of them alleging that the Lt. Governor and the IAS officers were just “puppets in the hands of PMO (Prime Minister’s Office)” and that the officers’ “strike: was being patronised by none other than the PMO.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday hit back at Kejriwal and termed the protest as “a planned trick to divert people’s attention from the real issues of poor health system in government hospitals and acute water shortage in the city”.
Addressing a press conference here, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said: “Kejriwal and his Ministers are sitting in an air-conditioned room with their feet on the table. Is it called a protest?”
He said that the Delhi BJP MPs and MLAs would go and protest outside the Chief Minister’s residence over water and electricity crises in Delhi.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju dubbed Kejriwal’s protest as “drama” and wondered how long this would go on.
The Congress, too, called the AAP protest a ploy to cover up its failures.
“The AAP and the BJP, which is in power at the municipal bodies and at the Centre, are holding dharnas against each other to cover up their failures,” Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken said.
“The AAP government and the BJP are diverting people’s attention from the sealing drive, spread of garbage all over Delhi and the all-pervading corruption in the municipal corporations,” he added.
While AAP leaders accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Central government of disrupting the work of the Delhi government, the BJP alleged that the AAP was spreading canards to hide the failures of its government.
Addressing the media, AAP leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh said the IAS officers and the LG are puppets of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The LG can be a puppet, but the mastermind is Modiji on whose orders all the works of the Delhi government have been stopped.
“Why Kejriwal is sitting inside the LG office for past 20 hours? He is not demanding anything for himself but for the people of Delhi,” Singh said.
He also alleged that the Central government was against the AAP government in Delhi.
“For the past three years, they (BJP) are working against us. They are unable to digest their defeat at our hands in Delhi.
“This time we want to settle everything, once and for all. We can’t have a clash everytime,” Singh added.
On the other hand, in a series of tweets, BJP MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa said in order to hide their failures, the AAP is blaming the LG and the Prime Minister and called the party a “drama company”.
“When fake revolutionary becomes a Chief Minister, this is the level of protest. His own ministers are hiding files and he is accusing the LG and Modiji,” he said.
On Satyendra Jain’s fast, he said: “After mugging Delhi, now he is holding fast.”
Sirsa said when either officers or the LG did not stop the construction of the swimming pools, why would they stop whitewashing of schools. “But the AAP is blaming the LG and the IAS officers for the delay.”
Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta also accused the Delhi Ministers of sitting comfortably in the air-conditioned office of the LG when the people outside are trying to grapple with a serious water crisis.
“They are lying in the air-conditioned office during the sit-in and being served tasty food from outside, while the people of Delhi are suffering from water crisis. This is a new way to escape from work,” Gupta said.
Addressing the media, Gupta also accused Chief Minister Kejriwal of launching an attack on constitutional authorities.
“Kejriwal and his team’s political strategy of arm-twisting and threatening LG Anil Baijal and IAS officers is an attack on our constitutional authorities and democratic principles.
“LG occupies a constitutional post. He represents the President of India. Any attack on him is an attack on our Constitution and democratic values. The high-voltage drama enacted on Monday night at Raj Niwas after meeting LG was meticulously planned to the minutest details,” he said.
Kejriwal must remain within his constitutional limits and allow the LG and the IAS officers to work as per their powers, rights and wisdom, he added. (IANS)