The stand off between the AAP government and IAS officers in Delhi ended today with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal calling off the nine-day sit-in at the LG’s office after bureaucrats started attending meeting with ministers. The move came after Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal shot off a letter to the chief minister, asking him to meet officers urgently to address concerns of both sides. AAP supporters cheered Kejriwal as he came out of the LG’s office in the evening and later he was given a welcome at his residence where he addressed party workers. The chief minister termed it as a “small victory” while vowing to keep fighting for Delhi’s statehood.
“If the LG has prompted the strike by the IAS officers, it is very unfortunate. It is a small victory. Ninety-nine per cent of the IAS officers are very good. We have done a lot in power and water sectors and we could not have done this alone,” he told the party workers. “But some officers in private told us that they were being pressurised not to work with the AAP government. We were silent for the last four months over the IAS officers’ strike. But we wanted to resolve the issue. That is why we felt that the matter should be brought before the public. The battle for Delhi’s statehood will continue,” Kejriwal said.
Hours after the stir was called off, a joint forum, comprising IAS, DANICS and DASS cadre officers of the Delhi government, wrote to an open letter to Kejriwal seeking a meeting with him over the issue of their safety. It said bureaucrats were politically neutral and requested the chief minister not to label them with any political dispensation. Meanwhile, an unimpressed opposition sounded a note of caution even as Kejriwal ended the protest, saying his “drama” has been exposed before the people of Delhi. Nobody is sure that Kejriwal will not sit on dharna again although he has been “exposed” this time, Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari said.
“‘At the end of the nine days of ‘nautanki’ (drama) by Kejriwal, the people fail to understand why he sat on dharna and what has he achieved,” he said in a statement. Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken alleged that both Kejriwal and the BJP that were playing “dharna politics” in Delhi, have shifted gears due to waning media attention. “Now that the entire country is discussing Kashmir development-Kejriwal and BJP leaders of Delhi thought that sitting on Dharna will not be adequately covered by the media. Both decided to wind up their Dharnas!” Maken tweeted. BJP MLA and Leader of the Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta said Kejriwal’s “drama” has been “exposed” by the struggle of the opposition leaders and the hunger strike staged by them. Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues had started the sit-in June 11, demanding a direction by the LG to the officers to end their “strike”, a charge rebutted by the bureaucrats.
The IAS officers had gone public to express their apprehensions about safety, after the alleged assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash by some AAP MLAs in February. Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court refused an urgent hearing on a plea seeking its direction to declare as “unconstitutional” the AAP protest. Kejriwal got the support of four chief ministers — Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), Chandradabu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), H D Kumaraswamy (Karnataka) and Pinarayi Vijayan (Kerala) who went the Aam Aadmi Party leader’s residence on Saturday after they were denied a meeting with him by Baijal at his office. The chief ministers had sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in resolving what they termed a “constitutional crisis”.
The sit-in by Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia, Health Minister Satyendar Jain and Labour Minister Gopal Rai, ended after IAS officers started participating in meetings called by ministers. Baijal’s his first communication to Kejriwal since he began a sit-in, came in response to his Sisodia’s letter yesterday seeking a meeting between the government and the bureaucrats to end the impasse. The protest started on June 11 when a delegation of the four ministers was denied a meeting by the LG. The minister wanted a direction to the IAS officers to end their “strike” and an approval to doorstep delivery of ration proposal. Sisodia said that the protest inside Baijal’s office “cannot” lead to an approval of doorstep delivery of ration proposal from the LG, one of the key issues behind the sit-in.
Sisodia and Jain, who were on a hunger strike and were hospitalised after their health deteriorated, were discharged this morning from the LNJP Hospital. Baijal’s his first communication to Kejriwal since he began a sit-in, came in response to his Sisodia’s letter yesterday seeking a meeting between the government and the bureaucrats to end the impasse. Taking queue from Kejriwal, Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta, BJP MLAs Manjinder Sirsa and Jagdish Pradhan, West Delhi MP Parvesh Verma, and rebel AAP MLA Kapil Mishra sat on the dharna on June 13 demanding that Kejriwal and his ministers resume work and address the water crisis faced by Delhi people. They also ended their protest today after Kejriwal and his ministerial colleagues called off their stir.