Chief ministers of four Opposition-ruled states urged the Centre on Saturday to resolve the impasse between Delhi’s government and lieutenant governor immediately, PTI reported. Not allowed to meet her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said “this is not democracy” and called it a “constitutional crisis”.
At a press conference at Kejriwal’s residence late on Saturday, Banerjee, N Chandrababu Naidu, Pinarayi Vijayan and HD Kumaraswamy said they had not been given an appointment by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal’s office. The chief ministers had written to Baijal requesting a meeting at 9 pm.
“We were not even given six minutes to meet him,” Banerjee said. “If this happens in the capital of the country, what happens to other states? This is a constitutional crisis. We will request the PM [Prime Minister] to solve the problem.”
Kejriwal and three of his Cabinet ministers have been protesting at Baijal’s office since Monday evening to urge him to get the striking Indian Administrative Service officers in the state to return to work. On Sunday, Kejriwal tweeted: “Is the democracy safe in the hands of a prime minister who gets all work stalled in a state by asking officers to go on strike?”
On Saturday, he said the situation was getting “more and more bizarre”.
The chief ministers went to Kejriwal’s home after not being allowed to meet him at Raj Niwas. They are in Delhi to attend a NITI Aayog meeting on Sunday.
An official from Baijal’s office confirmed to the Hindustan Times that the four chief ministers’ request to meet Kejriwal was turned down. “They can meet anywhere outside,” the official said. “Why should the LG’s office be a venue for them to make political statement? Yesterday, we had denied Kejriwal’s family and others precisely for this reason.”
Opposition parties have shown the intent to team up ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in an attempt to counter the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. All major Opposition and regional leaders, including Kejriwal, were seen at Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in last month. However, the Congress, which sees itself as the potential leader among the Opposition parties, has attacked Kejriwal for the sit-in protest at Baijal’s office.
The Delhi government claims that the bureaucrats have been on a protest since February, when two Aam Aadmi Party MLAs allegedly assaulted Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash during a meeting at Kejriwal’s residence. The IAS Association, however, has refuted this allegation and said no officer was on strike. They have, however, admitted that the bureaucrats are not attending routine meetings called by ministers.