A sit-in protest at Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal’s office by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and three of his Cabinet colleagues demanding ‘more power’ to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and a directive be passed to the IAS officers to end their ‘strike’ today enters its eights day. Contradictory to the city government’s stand, bureaucrats on Sunday held a press conference to state that they are not on any strike and that they are being victimised and that there was misinformation being spread about them.
The three ministers on strike with Kejriwal are Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, ministers Sanjay Singh and Satyendra Jain. The AAP government is demanding the intervention of L-G and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in ending the four months’ strike by IAS officers, who according to Kejriwal are only attending office to clear files and not meeting ministers. The standoff between the Delhi government and IAS officers began in February when Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash was allegedly beaten up AAP ministers at the CM’s residence in his presence over non-clearance of an advertisement file claiming corruption contained under AAP’s regime.
Here’s what has happened so far:
1. Last night, after the IAS officers’ press conference at the Press Club, Kejriwal tweeted urging them to stop the boycott of the AAP government and return to work. Calling IAS officers a ‘part of his family’, he assured them that he will provide them security during meetings with ministers. The development came as a surprise as Delhi CM has been unrelenting in his demands that the L-G order the officers to end the ‘strike’.
My appeal to my officers of Delhi govt …. pic.twitter.com/YQ02WgaAtd
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) June 17, 2018
2. Kejriwal’s appeal came hours after an unprecedented press conference by IAS officers at the Press Club to deny the AAP government’s allegation that they are on strike. The Delhi IAS Association said that they are totally neutral towards all political parties but they need a ‘culture of trust’ to work. IAS Association Secretary Manisha Saxena told reporters that officers are feeling unsafe after the assault on Chief Secretary. She said that there has been no attempt from the government to ‘reach out to us so that we can feel safe’. She added that officers had various experiences of assault and thus “we will not attend a meeting if we are not feeling safe”. “We have gone out of the way to ensure that public do not suffer, their work does not suffer, but we will not work at the cost of our life. We don’t go to places where we don’t feel safe. We need a culture of trust to work,” she said.
3. On Sunday, the ruling AAP held a march to support the CM and three ministers. The march was planned till 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, the official residence of PM but it was stopped near the Parliament Street police station. The AAP protest was supported by the CPI(M). Scores of AAP workers demanded that the Centre should end the deadlock and allow an elected government to function. CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury who joined the protest at the Mandi House accused the BJP of using the L-G and Governor’s officers to destabilise the non-BJP ruled states. “Joining the protest rally to the Prime Minister’s residence today to express serious condemnation over the manner in which federalism, a fundamental feature of our Constitution, is being undermined by this BJP Central government,” he said.
4. The AAP has found support from four non-BJP Chief Ministers who met PM Modi on Sunday on the sidelines of a NITI Ayog meeting in Delhi and urged him to end the crisis immediately in Delhi. The CMs who met him included Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), HD Kumaraswamy (Karnataka) and P Vijayan (Kerala). They had also visited Kejriwal’s residence and met his family. “I along with the Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala have requested the Prime Minister to resolve the problems of the Delhi government immediately,” Banerjee tweeted.
5. Earlier on Sunday morning, new drama unfolded when Kejriwal tweeted that L-G Anil Baijal will be attending the NITI Ayog meeting as Delhi’s representative. However, NITI Ayog CEO Amitabh Kant refuted Kejriwal’s claim saying Delhi had no representation in the meeting.
6. In a separate interview to The Indian Express, Kejriwal claimed that officers had been threatened by the Raj Niwas that their careers will be ruined if they attend meetings called by ministers or take their phone calls. He also accused the PM of paralysing the Delhi government through the IAS officers and claimed that “political rivals concede that in last three years, the AAP government has done wonderful work in the field of health, education, electricity and water”.
7. The CM also rubbished allegations that his MLAs and ministers had assaulted the Chief Secretary at his residence on February 20 night. ”This alleged story was concocted by the L-G and the Centre to implicate me in a criminal case and to destabilise my government.” Kejriwal added that he will remain on sit-in as long as his demands are not met by the Centre and L-G.
8. Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, who was on an indefinite hunger since Tuesday, was shifted to the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital here late on Sunday night. In a tweet, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that Jain was shifted to the hospital due to “deteriorating health”.