UNITED: The four chief ministers (l to r) Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, with Sunita Kejriwal, wife of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
By Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar
As many as four chief ministers of Opposition-ruled States have supported Kejriwals demand for full-fledged statehood for Delhi and his protest against the LG
Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who along with three of his cabinet ministers has been sitting on a protest at Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal’s residence for the past six days, got the best Eid gift he could have hoped for as the chief ministers of four opposition ruled states turned up at his residence late on Saturday evening to express their solidarity with the issues he has been raising.
The chief ministers — Mamta Banerjee of West Bengal, Pinarayi Vijayan of Kerala, HD Kumaraswamy of Karnataka and N Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh — are in Delhi to attend an event called by the Niti Aayog and sought to meet Kejriwal, as well as the LG in order to make a representation on the issues their Delhi counterpart has raised.
When it became clear that the LG would not be giving them time, they went to the Delhi CM’s residence where they spoke extensively about how the Narendra Modi government at the centre was stifling federalism by using the LG’s office to stall the functioning of an elected state government.
At Kejriwal’s residence, they met his wife, Sunita, and other senior AAP leaders. They spoke to the media there and also issued a statement asking Modi to intervene and resolve the crisis.
Addressing the media, Banerjee said they had come to “express solidarity” with Kejriwal. “In a democracy, different political parties come to power in the states. It is not necessary that the writ of the ruling party at the Centre will always have to run.”
Since the AAP leaders are protesting against an alleged strike — or work-to-rule — by IAS officers at the behest of the LG and PMO for the past four months, Banerjee also referred to the issue saying: “Delhi is the capital city, it has a population of four crore and all its works are lying stalled for the last four months. There can be nothing more saddening than this. The issue could have been resolved by sitting together, why is it taking so long?”
Stating that they want the standoff to end, Banerjee said the public suffers in the absence of governance. “This is a constitutional crisis. It should not have happened. It is not right that for the last six months the issue has not been resolved.”
“For the past six days, Kejriwal has been sitting at the LG’s residence. I really feel sorry to see the situation. If we had not come to express solidarity with Kejriwal, we would not have felt good. We asked the LG for time to meet Kejriwal, but he denied permission. We also asked to meet him to discuss the issue but people at his home said he is out of the home. We waited since 7 in the evening for 3-4 hours, but were not allowed to meet Kejriwal. Not only Delhi, if any chief minister would face a crisis we would stand by him or her.”
“We came here to express our support to Delhi CM @ArvindKejriwal. The
LG has to allow this government to function. We had asked permission from the LG to see the CM to which there was no response. pic.twitter.com/03KkIapwMt”
— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) June 16, 2018
Naidu, who later tweeted a copy of the letter the four chief ministers had written to Baijal, said, “Our demand is that they should find a solution to the problem and let the elected government function smoothly. What is happening is very unfortunate. In a state, there will always be politics but both the Centre and state should work together. If the LG or governor do not let the elected government function, it goes against the spirit of democracy. We would all urge the LG to let the government function democratically; we are all elected democratically.”
Asked if he would urge Kejriwal to call off his protest, Naidu said: “He is very wise. He knows what to do. He is protesting on an issue and that is why I am requesting the LG and the Government of India to resolve the problem”.
Vijayan, who had written a letter to Modi on Friday in support of Kejriwal and sought his intervention in resolving the crisis, said it was “because of the attitude of the Central government that this (crisis) happened.” He accused the Centre of “restricting the federal system, which is a threat to the nation” and asserted that “everyone” was with the Delhi CM. “All the democratic people are with Delhi CM,” he said.
While the arrival of these three CMs would have pleased the hearts of all AAP supporters no end, the fact that Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy chose to accompany them despite his government having been formed with the help of Congress only last month left many surprised. The Congress has been outspoken in its criticism of Kejriwal over his standoff with the LG and has openly accused him of enacting a “drama”.
Former chief minister Sheila Dikshit and Delhi unit president Ajay Maken had addressed a detailed press conference on the issue on Friday where they asked why Kejriwal was unable to function with a BJP government at the Centre when the Congress had managed. The reference was to the period in Dikshit’s chief ministership of Delhi from 1998 to 2013, six years of which overlapped with the BJP’s control of the Centre under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Dikshit and Maken had also accused the elected AAP government of running away from its responsibilities by claiming that there was a constitutional crisis and that the strike by IAS officers was only a ruse.
AAP leaders and many political analysts have argued that the comparison the Congress draws is inappropriate given the contrasting styles of Vajpayee and Modi.
Kejriwal, who is holed up in the LG’s official bungalow but continues to communicate to the public and media via Twitter, retweeted the letter sent by the four chief ministers to Baijal seeking his permission to meet the Delhi chief minister.
In a veiled dig at Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Kejriwal also retweeted another message which claimed that the visit of the four chief ministers was a “big boost” to the Delhi CM as it amounted to “opposition unity on full display”. Also, the message noted that this visit of the CMs was embarrassing for both prime minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi and quipped: “What a miss for Cong. Tunnel vision!”
Baijal’s refusal to allow the four chief ministers to come to his residence to meet their Delhi counterpart was questioned by Kejriwal, who accused Modi of influencing the decision. He tweeted: “I don’t think Hon’ble LG can take such a decision on his own. Obviously, PMO has directed him to refuse permission. Just like IAS strike is being done at PMO’s instance.”
Kejriwal’s deputy, Manish Sisodia, who is also in Raj Niwas and has been on a fast for the past four days, wondered if there was an undeclared emergency. “How can PMO stop Hon Chief Ministers of other states to meet CM Delhi. Is this undeclared emergency in Delhi?” he tweeted
Courtesy: The Wire