Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday called off his protest demanding action against four Delhi Police officers after agreeing to a compromise formula, whose contours were worked out and pushed by the office of Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung.
However, considering the serious damage caused to the Congress-AAP relationship by the crisis, the peace is expected to only be temporary. In fact, the next flashpoint could come as early as in a fortnight with Kejriwal fast-tracking a new Lokpal Bill for Delhi which needs to be cleared by the Union home ministry.
Sources said the compromise formula that aimed to resolve the face-off over the Delhi Police was cemented during a lunch meeting between AAP leader Yogendra Yadav and Jung and subsequently relayed to Kejriwal and senior AAP leaders.
The deal saw Kejriwal and AAP climbing down from their earlier demands — of statehood for Delhi, state control of the Delhi Police and the suspension of four police officers — and agreeing to call off the protest after Jung agreed to send two police officers on leave pending an inquiry.
Sources said the Union home ministry and the police had refused to transfer or suspend the “erring” police officers after Kejriwal’s protest began. However, since the protest interfered with the Republic Day parade, a compromise was required.
“The L-G first called me for a meeting and we discussed a lot of things. In those discussions, several ideas came out, which I would not like to reveal at this point of time,” Yadav said referring to his meeting with Jung Tuesday.
The L-G, he added, was “extremely gracious” and explained the constitutional avenues available. “I came back with that information and a decision was then taken to call off the dharna,” Yadav said.
The formula was relayed to the AAP leadership through JD(U) MLA Shoaib Iqbal, who was seen shuttling in and out of the protest venue through the day. Iqbal even met Kejriwal and Education Minister Manish Sisodia for close to an hour inside Kejriwal’s car.
“I had a formula, which I wanted to relay to AAP so that Republic Day is not interrupted. I spoke to Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia and told them that the Union government could agree to send the erring police officers on leave. They agreed,” Iqbal said.
“Kejriwal was only adamant that the Malviya Nagar SHO be sent on leave, suspended or transferred.”
Iqbal then spoke to Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi.
AAP sources said the negative publicity over the protest required them to come up with a middle-ground solution. A communique from the L-G’s office said Jung had appealed to Kejriwal that the stir be ended keeping national security in mind ahead of the Republic Day celebrations.
Following this, the political action committee of AAP met for an hour at the press club and decided to call off the protest.
“The turnout outside Rail Bhawan was not as per the party’s expectation. they were expecting a larger crowd. This could have also been due to barricading of several of the approach roads leading to Rail Bhawan, making it difficult to reach there. By evening, with clashes between the party supporters and police getting difficult to handle, AAP needed a face-saving deal. Sending the police officers on leave was seen as the way out after AAP members met the L-G,” said a source.
Meanwhile, the terms of reference for the independent inquiry by retired judge B L Garg have also been finalised and issued.
“The inquiry will have to be completed within four weeks. Also, the commission has been asked to see whether the police officers were acting within the law in both the cases and the same will apply for the ministers also in terms of their action last Wednesday,’’ said a source.
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