Has Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal become a prisoner of his own device? With neither the Centre nor Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal paying heed to the three-day protest by Kejriwal and three of his cabinet colleagues this is the question doing the rounds in Delhi’s political circles.
Significantly, Kejriwal in his desperation to assert the point against the ‘IAS officers' strike’ has positioned himself and his protest so precariously that he can end the protest only if Baijal fulfils his demand to direct the IAS officers to end their strike.
Any departure from this would only come with a heavy cost for Kejriwal. If he ends his protest without his demand being fulfilled, it will be seen as his failure to carry forward his self-styled struggle. On the other hand, the political cost of remaining pigeonholed in the waiting room of Baijal’s office along with three cabinet colleagues holding portfolios as important as health and education only gets higher with each day.
The AAP-led government in Delhi and the IAS officers in the state dispensation had a major face-off in February after Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash was allegedly assaulted by ruling party MLAs at the chief minister’s residence. Kejriwal accused IAS officers of going on a "continuous strike" after the incident. On the very first day of the protest, AAP leader Arunodoi Prakash told media, “The chief minister and his colleagues have been at Baijal's office since Monday evening and would continue to stay until he directs the IAS officers to call off the strike.”
In order to ensure that the news of the protest does not get lost in the cacophony of media, health minister Satyendar Jain added a rider: He'd sit on an indefinite fast until their demands were met. On the morning of day three, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia also joined Jain.
Towards the second half of the third day, the AAP leaders seemed helpless and were attempting to garner support from various quarters. Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh tweeted that parties such as CPM, CPI, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (S) have assured support for the protest and talks with other parties are on. It is worth mentioning that support from other parties can't end the deadlock.
Soon after his tweet, Singh addressed a press conference and said he had written to President Ram Nath Kovind and sought his intervention. “Almost every state government run by the Opposition has faced injustice from the Centre-appointed governors. So, the Honorable President of India’s interference is sought to end such injustice,” Singh added.
In a move to garner the support of the people, Singh also announced AAP workers' solidarity march in the evening from Kejriwal's residence to Baijal's office. Despite all these efforts, the stalemate continues. Which puts further pressure on Kejriwal. After all, he is chief minister and has a constitutional obligation to fulfil his duties. While continuing his protest doesn't help Kejriwal in this, ending his vigil without success would only see his further damage to his cause.
Updated Date: Jun 13, 2018 22:20 PM