Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday of blocking the state government’s work in the last three years through the lieutenant governor’s office. “It is obvious that your only intention is to paralyse the elected government of Delhi,” Kejriwal told Modi in a letter.
Kejriwal’s statement comes in the backdrop of a stand-off between the Aam Aadmi Party government he heads and IAS officers in Delhi. Kejriwal has accused the bureaucrats of striking work since February, a charge the officers deny. The chief minister and his cabinet colleagues have have sitting on dharna at the lieutenant governor’s office since June 11, demanding that he step in and end the impasse. They have also said the Prime Minister’s Office is behind the alleged strike by IAS officers.
“You have arranged the strike of IAS [Indian Administrative Services] officers in Delhi for the last four months,” Kejriwal said. “It is unimaginable that a country’s prime minister, out of political malice, would get bureaucrats in the capital city to stop work.”
Earlier in the day, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Somnath Bharti claimed he and his colleague SK Bagga were removed by police from Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal’s office when they sought an appointment with him. They had stayed back after a meeting of the Delhi Development Authority. Kejriwal called the incident “bizarre”.
However, Raj Niwas claimed in a statement that “after the meeting ended, MLAs Somnath Bharti and SK Bagga, who came to attend the meeting, refused to leave the residential premises of the Lieutenant Governor, on the pretext of joining the ‘dharna’ of the chief minister”, PTI reported.
It also said the lieutenant governor has written to Kejriwal and requested him to urgently meet the IAS officers in the Secretariat so that the apprehensions and concerns of both sides can be addressed through dialogue, ANI reported.
Kejriwal’s deputy Manish Sisodia said Baijal’s conduct was worse than that of British colonial rulers. “He has not met us or responded to us despite frequent calls and messages,” Sisodia said, claiming that the plight of the Delhi government was the Bharatiya Janata Party’s revenge for its defeat in Delhi.
“LG Sahib, if you do not meet the chief minister or deputy chief minister, and get MLAs thrown out of your office by police, how will the democracy work,” said Sisodia. He demanded that either the bureaucrats in the state stop their strike, or the Delhi government be given back its power over the bureaucracy.
In a notification in May 2015, soon after the AAP government came to power, the Centre had taken away control over the services – or the bureaucracy – from the state government.
The officers have denied they are on strike but said they stopped attending meetings with ministers after Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash said he was assaulted by AAP MLAs at Kejriwal’s office on February 20. The AAP has rejected the assault charge.
On Sunday, Kejriwal had said he would ensure the safety and security of all officers “with all powers and resources available at my command”. After this, the officers have said they are ready to hold discussions with Kejriwal, but the government has asked Baijal to be present since the bureaucracy is under him.