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22 Apr 2019, Edition - 1378, Monday

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After Sleepover, Arvind Kejriwal Stays Put At Lt Governor’s In Protest


New Delhi : Arvind Kejriwal and three Delhi ministers were seen sitting in couches and working their phones in photos tweeted on Tuesday morning, after they spent the night in a visitors’ room at the Raj Niwas, the Lieutenant Governor’s home.

The Chief Minister, his Deputy Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai and Satyendra Jain had gone to meet Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal with two demands – an end to a four-month strike by IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officers who are protesting against the Kejriwal government in Delhi, and approval for a new doorstep delivery of services scheme.

They walked into Raj Niwas around 5.30 pm, and never left.

Around 11 pm last night, a tweet showed the four settling down for a sleepover; Mr Kejriwal and Satyendra Jain took the couch while the others had their feet up on a glass table top.

The chief minister, who is diabetic, reportedly needed insulin and had “specific food” from his home, Press Trust of India said quoting sources.

“Struggle continues,” Mr Kejriwal posted in a tweet this morning, indicating that he was not about to leave. “My dear Delhiites, good morning. Struggle continues,” he wrote in Hindi.

Lawmakers and workers of Mr Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also camped near the Lt Governor’s office, which was barricaded by the police. In the morning, they were cleared out, and paramilitary personnel called in. All access to the Raj Niwas has been blocked.

Mr Baijal’s office put out a statement ripping into the Chief Minister for a “dharna without reason” and accusing him of “threatening” the Lt Governor.

This morning, the four protesters sent a letter to Mr Baijal, saying if the IAS officers did not end their “strike”, the Delhi government would be forced to turn to a law that punishes those who disrupt essential services.

Mr Sisodia posted the letter in tweets.

AAP alleges that work has been affected because the officers have been on a protest against the Kejriwal government and have been boycotting meetings since Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash alleged in February that he was assaulted by AAP lawmakers during a meeting at the Chief Minister’s home.

Officers deny any strike.

Mr Kejriwal has pledged to stay put at the Lieutenant Governor’s until he acts against the officers.

“In the history of independent India, this is the first time that IAS officers on strike for four months. Why?” the Chief Minister questioned yesterday, accusing Mr Baijal of refusing to help.

Mr Sisodia said that he met and wrote to the Lt Governor five times about the strike but he did “nothing” to end it.

Mr Kejriwal and AAP have been dueling constantly with the Lt Governor for months, accusing him of acting like the centre’s agent.

Delhi’s ruling party has also launched a campaign for full statehood for the capital, with the slogan: “L-G, Delhi Chhodo (Lieutenant Governor, Quit Delhi)”.

The AAP government does not have control over land, police and law and order and accuses the centre of trying to rule Delhi using the Lieutenant Governor, who has to sign off on all decisions taken by Mr Kejriwal and his ministers.

Last month, when Mr Kejriwal went to meet Mr Baijal amid a row over the installing of closed-circuit television cameras in Delhi, the Lt Governor refused to meet the full delegation. Mr Kejriwal then staged a sit-in near Mr Baijal’s office in his first street protest after returning to power in February 2015.

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