Delhi ministers' protest shocks office of L-G, but Arvind Kejriwal's move unlikely to favour AAP
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has come up with yet another issue against the lieutenant-governor.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has come up with yet another issue against the Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal. If it was the issue of installation of CCTVs a month ago, this time it is his demand to direct IAS officers to end ‘four-month-long strike’ which was the reason why he chose to protest at the L-G’s office since Monday night.
Kejriwal and four of his cabinet colleagues have stayed put at the lieutenant-governor's office since Monday, and demanded that IAS workers in the Delhi Government be directed to call off their ‘strike’. Kejriwal, along with Satyendar Jain, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai, continued their protest.
"The chief minister and his colleagues have been staying put in the lieutenant-governor's office since Monday evening and would continue to stay until the lieutenant-governor directs the IAS officers to call off the strike," said AAP leader Arunoday Prakash.
Significantly, hours before Kejriwal went to meet Baijal on Monday, he said in press conference, “The Centre and the Prime Minister's Office are continuously trying to stop the Delhi government from functioning. There have been repeated attempts to stop the development works initiated by the Delhi government.”
He also said that it is for the first time in history that IAS officers have been on strike for four months.
“The services come under the lieutenant-governor. As per rules, the IAS officers cannot call strike. We have made repeated appeals to the lieutenant-governor to direct them to call off the strike,” Kejriwal said.
He added that the appeals made to the lieutenant-governor over the past four months have borne no fruit as the IAS officers continue to strike, and development works under the Delhi government have ground to a total halt.
The AAP-led government in Delhi and the IAS officers in the state dispensation had a major face-off in February after the Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash alleged physical assault by ruling party MLAs at the chief minister’s residence. Kejriwal accused IAS officers of going on a "continuous strike" after the incident.
Soon after the meeting with Baijal on Monday, Kejriwal tweeted:
4 of us met Hon’ble LG-myself, Dy CM, Satender Jain,Gopal Rai. We presented following demands-
1. IAS officers on strike in Del for 4 months. Direct them to return to work
2. Punish those IAS who struck work for last 4 months
3. Approve doorstep delivery of rations
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) June 11, 2018
Handed him this letter. LG refuses to take action. LG is under constitutional duty to act. Left wid no option, we have politely told LG that we will not leave till he acts on all points. We hv come out of his chamber n sitting in his waiting room pic.twitter.com/UwsVqqU69g — Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) June 11, 2018
Significantly, the sit-in protest in Baijal's waiting room continued through the night and further intensified with Jain’s announcement that they would fast until their demands are fulfilled.
Certainly, the protest by four cabinet ministers in Delhi came like a bolt from the blue for the lieutenant-governor's office, which has neither undertaken any measures to force them to leave nor decided to fulfill any of their demands.
But the sit-in protest is unlikely to help the AAP government in Delhi politically as it is seen more as a political drama than a sincere effort to solve the issues at hand.
Kejriwal has declared Baijal an agent of the Centre and has also accused him of hindering Delhi’s development at the Centre’s behest. When alternative options are available to achieve an objective, a protest is seen as nothing but political posturing.
“If the chief minister really wanted the officers to work, he could have filed a petition in the high court against the strike. What is the point in disturbing the work in lieutenant-governor’s office by holding a protest in it when a legal remedy is available?” asked Ashok Agarwal, a Delhi High Court advocate.
Agarwal also said it is shameful on the part of the chief minister to disturb day-to-day affairs of the lieutenant-governor’s office.
The AAP has claimed the Delhi government has proof that the officers are on strike. “We have minutes of meetings, attendance sheets of meetings and memos served to these officers for stalling the works of the people,” said Saurabh Bhardwaj, chief spokesperson of the Delhi government. Bhardwaj also said that according to rule 7 of their code of conduct, the IAS officers are acting illegally.
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