Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s sit-in at the Lieutenant Governor’s office along with three of his cabinet colleagues entered the third day today with Delhi ministers spending the third night in a row at the Raj Niwas to press for various demands. Besides Kejriwal, the three ministers who are on a sit-in protest include Deputy CM Manish Sisodia and ministers Gopal Rai and Satyendra Jain. The Aam Aadmi Party has been demanding that L-G Anil Baijal pass directives to the IAS officers to end their ‘strike’; initiate action against officials who have struck the government work for over four months and approve the Delhi government’s doorstep delivery scheme of ration.
However, contradictory to the city government’s stand, the Joint Forum of Delhi government employees including IAS officers on Tuesday issued a statement saying they are not on strike and that all officers are regularly attending office. The statement noted that reports suggesting that officers are on strike are completely baseless. It said that a misinformation campaign is being spread that officers are protesting and hampering the functioning of the Delhi government at the behest of the L-G or the central government.
On Wednesday, AAP leader Sanjay Singh led a march of AAP workers towards L-G residence. They were joined by former BJP leader Yashwant Singh even as the BJP launched a counter-protest highlighting the issues of the capital and city government’s failure in addressing them. The protesting Aam Aadmi Party leaders said that they will not call off their strike until their demands are met. The AAP has also planned to hold a candle march on Thursday at Rajpath. While Satyendra Jain has been on a hunger strike since Tuesday morning, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia too joined in on Wednesday.
Here are top developments in Arvind Kejriwal’s dharna politics so far:
1. On Wednesday, AAP leader Sanjay Singh wrote a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind and sought an appointment to brief him about the ongoing standoff between the Delhi government and the L-G. Sanjay also led a march of hundreds of workers on Wednesday towards the L-G’s residence. Yashwant Singh too participated in the protest and said that if this had happened under Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s time, he would have personally taken up the matter to resolve the crisis.
2. Meanwhile, as AAP ministers continued their sit-in to press for their demands from the L-G, the Delhi unit of the BJP on Wednesday launched a counter-protest highlighting the issues of water and electricity shortage that people are facing in the city due to AAP government’s misgovernance. Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said that Kejriwal is betraying the people of Delhi. “He betrayed them in 2014, then in 2015 and now again he is betraying them on all the promises he made to the people of the city,” he said while leading the march of BJP workers from ITO in central Delhi to the Chief Minister’s Office in the secretariat. They also raised slogans like ‘Kejriwal drama band karo’ (Kejriwal stop doing drama).
3. West Delhi MP Parvesh Singh Sahib Verma, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and party leader Vijender Gupta, MLAs Jagadish Pradhan, Manjinder Sirsa and disgruntled AAP MLA Kapil Mishra also sat on a protest in the waiting room of the Chief Minister’s Office seeking the government’s attention to the citizen’s issues.
प्यासे हैं दिल्ली के गांव, कॉलोनी , मोहल्ले
और प्यासे हैं दिल्ली के लोग
जल मंत्री केजरीवाल
काम पर वापस आओ
CM ऑफिस में “धरने” की पहली शाम
केजरीवाल के ऑफिस में इस वक्त हम दिल्ली वालों का दर्द बयान कर रहे हैं pic.twitter.com/7riD5w13QO
— Kapil Mishra (@KapilMishra_IND) June 13, 2018
4. The Congress party too slammed the AAP government over its strike calling Kejriwal ‘No. 1 in holding dharnas’. “Kejriwal is number one in holding dharnas and (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi is number one in giving speeches,” Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken who participated in the Congress’ month-long Jal Satyagrah, said. The leader also stressed that his party is the only party which believes in giving good governance without trotting out filmsy excuses.
5. However, Kejriwal got support from regional players like Trinamool Congress and the RJD. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee tweeted that Kejriwal is an elected Chief Minister and he must get due respect. “Arvind Kejriwal, CM of Delhi is sitting in a dharna in LG’s office for the last few days in the capital city of the country. Elected CM must get due respect. May I appeal to the Govt of India and @LtGovDelhi to resolve the problem immediately so that people do not suffer,” she tweeted. RJD leader Manoj Jha too backed Kejriwal’s strike and visited CM’s residence to express solidarity.
6. Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel also wrote a letter to L-G Anil Baijal over the IAS officers’ strike and supported the demands of the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues.
7. The Joint Forum of Delhi government employees including IAS officers shared pictures of officers regularly attending office and meetings. The forum said that meeting between Chief Secretary, Principal Secretaries, Head of Departments are regularly holding meetings. It said that anyone can visit any public office to ascertain the truth.
— IAS AGMUT Association (@IAS_Agmut) June 12, 2018
8. Meanwhile, security has been tightened outside the Raj Niwas with administration deploying paramilitary and police officials in heavy numbers to guard the L-G’s office. The L-G had on Wednesday called on Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba to discuss the current crisis. However, details of the meeting were not revealed to media.
9. The entire controversy broke out after Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash was assaulted by AAP leaders at Kejriwal’s residence in his presence in February this year. It was reported that the CM had called a meeting of MLAs with the Chief Secretary to press him to clear an advertisement proposal that corruption has declined under the AAP’s regime. However, the AAP said that the meeting was convened by the CM to discuss the implementation of government’s welfare schemes. The midnight drama at Kejriwal’s residence had forced the city government officials to boycott the government’s meetings but they kept attending their offices.
10. Meanwhile, demand for a full statehood is also set to be one of the key planks that Kejriwal’s party will go into the 2019 polls with. The Delhi Assembly recently accepted the resolution on full statehood for the city. In his speech on the floor of the House, CM Kejriwal said that the AAP will campaign for the BJP if the Central government grants full statehood status to the Union Territory. “I want to tell BJP that if before 2019 Elections, Delhi is granted statehood. We will make sure that each and every vote from Delhi goes in your favour, we will campaign for you. If you don’t do so Delhi residents will put up boards saying BJP leave Delhi.” Meanwhile, there are reports in media that the alliance talks between the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party are in initial phase to contest the next year’s general elections together to defeat the BJP. Delhi sends seven MPs to the Lok Sabha. Currently all the seats are held by BJP.