After 3 years, Kejriwal back to ‘dharna’ politics

New Delhi: After a hiatus of three years, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is back in ‘dharna’ mode with two sit-ins in the last 30 days.

With the latest protest in the office room of Lt Governor Anil Baijal’s residence, the rift between the IAS officials and the Aam Aadmi Party government, which started in February this year after an alleged assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, has flared up again.

The activist-turned-politician launched his party in 2012 and became the Chief Minister of Delhi in December next year with the support of the Congress as his party won 28 seats in the Assembly elections.

Soon after becoming the Chief Minister, he along with his cabinet launched a protest in January 2014 when Kejriwal protested on the road outside the Rail Bhawan close to Parliament House, over the issue of control over Delhi Police, which is with the Centre.

After staying in power for 49 days, he resigned and proposed fresh elections as he failed in introducing the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill due to lack of majority in the Assembly.

In 2015, when Assembly elections were held in Delhi, the AAP won a massive majority securing 67 of the total 70 seats.

After that, as Chief Minister Kejriwal never protested over anything until last month when he along with all his MLAs sat on a ‘dharna’ on the road near the Lt Governor’s office urging him “not to stall” the CCTV project under “pressure from the BJP”.

Kejriwal and the MLAs went to meet the Lt Governor on May 14. But when the police did not allow them to enter, they squatted on the road. They protested for around three hours sitting on the road and chanting slogans against the LG and the BJP.

The protest was called off with the party deciding that it will reach out to the people to tell them that the “BJP and the LG are disrupting the installation of CCTV cameras in the city”.

The latest round of dramatic protest began at the LG’s house by Kejriwal with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and cabinet ministers Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai in the Raj Niwas, the official accommodation-cum-office of Lt. Governor Anil Baijal, since Monday evening. Sisodia and Jain have now launched an indefinite hunger strike.

The reason for the novel protest is the face-off between IAS officials and the AAP government after the alleged assault on the Chief Secretary.

On February 20, the Chief Secretary alleged that he was assaulted by two Aam Aadmi Party MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal in the presence of Kejriwal at the Chief Minister’s residence.

Following this, IAS officers in Delhi were not attending routine meetings called by the Ministers and the Chief Minister as “they (the Ministers) have failed to give any assurance till date regarding safety, security, dignity and respect to the officers including women officers,” IAS Association secretary Manisha Saxena had said.

The four went to the LG’s office on Monday at 5.30 p.m. to press their three demands, including a direction to IAS officers to end their “strike” and to take action against officers who have struck work for “four months”.

The Chief Minister also demanded approval to his government’s proposal to deliver rations to the poor at their homes.

Kejriwal said he and his colleagues would not leave Baijal’s office until their demands were met. As of now, there seems to be no end to the protest with Bailjal not responding to their sit in.