New Delhi: 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.