In a latest development in the impasse in Delhi, the Delhi High Court has agreed to hear a plea against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for his sit-in dharna at the Raj Niwas. The plea, filed by a filed by Hari Nath Ram, will be heard on 18 June.
The petition, which was presented before Justice C Hari Shankar, said that Kejriwal has failed to discharge his duties and has brought governance in Delhi to a "stand still", since 11 June.
Meanwhile, as the Delhi chief minister and his cabinet colleagues spent the third night in a row at the Raj Niwas, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also launched an indefinite hunger strike on Wednesday and hundreds of AAP leaders and workers hit the road marching towards the lieutenant-governor's house.
Kejriwal also wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, imploring him to take stock of the crisis in Delhi. Pointing to the IAS officer's "strike" and the hindrance thereof to effective governance in Delhi, he requested Modi to take action.
"The Union government has all the powers over IAS officers. Delhi is facing an unprecedented situation and the L-G is refusing to intervene. I request the prime minister with folded hands to get IAS officers to end their strike so that work in Delhi can resume," he wrote.
BREAKING: On Day 4 @ArvindKejriwal writes to PM @narendramodi: Union Govt has all the powers over IAS officers. Delhi is facing an unprecedented situation & LG is refusing to intervene. Requests PM with folded hands to get IAS officers to end strike so work in Delhi can restart pic.twitter.com/hZrg8UShkU
— Ankit Tyagi (@Ankit_Tyagi01) June 14, 2018
Former Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha, who resigned from the BJP in April, was among those joining the march. "He (Kejriwal) is not just anybody, but an elected chief minister who got 67 seats. He is begging for justice and nobody is taking note of the matter. I was thinking if (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee ji was the prime minister today, what would he have done? He would have ordered the Union home minister to sit with the elected chief minister of Delhi and find a solution to this impasse," Sinha said.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also planned a candle march at Rajpath on Thursday and warned of a protest at the Prime Minister's residence on Sunday if their demands were not met. For the last three days, Kejriwal, Sisodia, Satyendra Jain and Gopal Rai have been camping at the Raj Niwas to press for their demands – 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. Kejriwal also took to Twitter on Wednesday to allege that the L-G's office was denying his brother permission to meet him. "My brother has come all the way from Pune to meet me. However, he is not being allowed to. This is wrong," Kejriwal tweeted.
मेरा भाई पुणे से मुझसे मिलने आया। उसको मुझसे मिलने नहीं दिया गया। ये तो ग़लत है। — Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) June 14, 2018
Dharna versus dharna
Meanwhile, in a move to counter the sit-in protest by the chief minister, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday also launched a protest highlighting the issues of water and electricity shortage in the national capital.
BJP leaders and rebel Aam Aadmi Party legislator Kapil Mishra sat on a dharna at Kejriwal's office against the "non-performance" of his government, mimicking a protest the ruling dispensation members are holding.
The Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly, Vijender Gupta, and MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa said the sit-in will continue till their demands are met by the AAP government.
The protest is against the "non-performance" of the Kejriwal government, he said. The chief minister does not come to his office, where would people go to raise their problems, he said.
Regional parties rally behind AAP
Several regional parties extended their support to the AAP cause on Wednesday. West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Manoj Jha tweeted to mark their support.
Banerjee, who shares a cordial relation with Kejriwal went on to appeal to the Centre and the L-G's office to resolve the problem immediately for the cause of the people. "May I appeal to the Government of India and L-G Delhi to resolve the problem immediately so that people do not suffer," she added.
Jha also visited the chief minister's residence to express solidarity with the AAP protest. AAP MP Sanjay Singh said that he had talked to the leaders of SP, RJD, JD (S), CPM, CPI and RLD, who have assured support to the AAP.
However, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken attacked Kejriwal over his protest calling him "No 1 in holding dharnas".
'Emergency-like situation in Delhi'
AAP on Wednesday said an "Emergency-like" situation prevailed in the National Capital and sought President Ram Nath Kovind's intervention.
"It's an Emergency-like situation in Delhi. The entire work of the Delhi government is crippled due to strike by IAS officers for past four months," Singh said, adding that the L-G was working at the "behest" of the Modi government.
Kejriwal, meanwhile, said that he and his colleagues would not leave L-G Anil Baijal's office until their demands were met. Jain is on a hunger strike since Tuesday morning, while Sisodia went on indefinite fast on Wednesday. Later in the day, Sisodia wrote to Baijal reiterating their demands.
Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel also wrote to Baijal over the IAS officers' "strike". He supported the demands of the chief minister and his Cabinet colleagues.
Singh, who led the march to the L-G house, also wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking an appointment to brief him about the ongoing standoff between Baijal and the Delhi government.
Singh said that if the IAS officers assured in writing to end their strike and resume work, the AAP will appeal the chief minister and his colleagues to end their sit-in at the L-G office.
Security has been beefed up outside the Raj Niwas, with paramilitary and police personnel deployed in a two-kilometre radius of the L-G's office, since Monday evening. More police personnel were deployed in the area in the wake of the march.
The L-G on Wednesday met Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba. Details of the meeting were not available immediately.
With inputs from agencies.
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Updated Date: Jun 14, 2018 19:10 PM