Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal refuses to leave L-G’s office, AAP minister starts hunger strike
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders spent Monday night on sofas in the waiting room of lieutenant governor Anil Baijal’s office and said they had no intention of budging until their demands were met.delhi Updated: Jun 13, 2018 00:04 IST
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday continued his sit-in protest at lieutenant governor Anil Baijal’s office along with three senior cabinet ministers and said he would stay put until the government’s demands were met.
The state home minister Satyendar Jain, who is also accompanying Kejriwal, went a step further and announced that he had started an indefinite hunger strike to protest against Baijal’s “inaction”.
Kejriwal, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, Jain and developement minister Gopal Rai, who had gone to speak to the L-G on Monday evening, never left the building after the meeting. They spent Monday night on sofas in the waiting room -- food was sent for them from their homes and they used the facilities down the corridor from the waiting room -- and said on Tuesday evening that they had no intention of budging.
Kejriwal said he was “appalled” by the stubbornness of the L-G who, until Tuesday evening, had not agreed to their demands of passing an order declaring the alleged “strike” by Delhi government bureaucrats as illegal, taking action against them, and approving a file making rations available through doorstep delivery.
“I am really appalled at the L-G’s stubborn refusal to end the strike by IAS officers and his justifications for the ongoing strike. I wonder what the Prime Minister’s Office’s instructions are to him,” Kejriwal said on Tuesday.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and the bureaucracy have been at loggerheads since an alleged assault on chief secretary Anshu Prakash at Kejriwal’s residence on February 19. The government, which denies that Prakash was targeted, has claimed that bureaucrats have been skipping meetings with ministers and working only through written communication since the incident.
On Tuesday morning, Kejriwal released a video in which he was heard saying: “Works such as releasing the last instalment of funds for completing the iconic signature bridge, white-washing government schools and disbursing money to private schools for EWS (economically weaker sections) quota are stuck because officers are not attending meetings. They do not answer calls or respond to messages of ministers.”
While the L-G’s office did not issue any fresh statement, it had said on Monday that Kejriwal and his colleagues were staging a “dharna without reason” as there was no strike by the bureaucrats. The IAS officers Association of the Delhi government also said that there was no strike and blamed Kejriwal and his Cabinet colleagues for not making sincere efforts to resolve the differences between the political executive and the bureaucracy.
“The officers have a genuine concern and apprehension in attending meetings called by the ministers. They are afraid that they may be physically and /or verbally assaulted. While threats and intimidation were being faced by officers in the last 2-3 years, the assault on the chief secretary was a tilting point,” the IAS officers Association said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the allegations of officers not working made by the AAP were false.
The bureaucrats also said that their objections or reservations on policy proposals or where rules and procedures are being violated is a normal administrative process and cannot be construed as “non-cooperation”.
Other AAP leaders, not present in the sit-in, have announced that they will would march from the CM’s residence to Baijal’s office at 4 pm on Wednesday. One of them, Atishi Marlena, released a video on social media urging the people of Delhi to join the protest.
The high drama around the L-G’s office was kept alive by party leaders and volunteers throughout Monday night and all of Tuesday as they sat on the street outside the main gate of Raj Niwas.
A portion of road leading to the L-G’s office was blocked by the police with barricades for safety reasons. Several leaders also camped outside the CM’s residence, which is about two kilometres away. Tents were set up on the street and workers shouted slogans such “L-G Dilli chhodo” (L-G, leave delhi) and “Kejriwal tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hain” (Kejriwal you fight, we are with you).
In the afternoon, doctors came in to do conduct a health check up of home minister Jain, and declared that he was fine.