In a show of strength, over a thousand Aam Aadmi Party workers marched from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence to Raj Niwas, the L-G’s house, Wednesday, demanding action against IAS officials who were “not cooperating” with the elected government. Kejriwal and three of his ministers have been camping inside the visitor’s room at Raj Niwas since Monday.
The rally also turned into a platform for AAP ministers, MLAs and Lok Sabha aspirants to showcase their clout among the masses, and an opportunity for the party to galvanise its cadre ahead of the general elections, where its run-ins with the bureaucracy will figure prominently during the campaign. The party also shot a warning to the Centre, with its Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh announcing that this was “just a trailer”. On Sunday, a march has been planned till the PM’s residence in Lok Kalyan Marg, he said.
Among those present was Yashwant Sinha, who quit the BJP earlier this year. “I went to meet Kejriwal at Raj Niwas. When police told us we cannot meet him, we sought to meet the L-G. But I was told he was not in office. It appears the Centre cannot hear or see anything,” Sinha, who was the finance minister in the first NDA government, said. “I do not regret not working with the small fries of the current establishment… Had Atal Bihari Vajpayee been the PM, he would have ordered the Home Minister to open a dialogue with the elected CM.”
From 3 pm to 5 pm, the crowd swelled outside CM’s residence, where a makeshift dais was made for the leaders to address the crowd. One after another, almost all AAP ministers and senior leaders picked up the mic. Workers walked along the Central Ridge for about two kilometres till the lane leading to Raj Niwas, where over 100 policemen manned a double layer of barricades put up to prevent them from going forward.
The party also sought to put pressure on the L-G through letters, written by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Speaker Ram Niwas Goel. “Don’t you think people of Delhi are bring insulted? Being the custodian of the city, you should fulfil your constitutional obligations and end the strike,” Goel wrote.
The AAP also canvassed for a larger opposition unity over the issue, with Singh reaching out to the CPM, CPI, SP, RLD and the JD(S). The party sought President Ram Nath Kovind’s intervention to end the impasse. To keep the momentum going, the party will hold a candlelight march at Raj Ghat on Thursday. Meanwhile, BJP MLAs Vijender Gupta, M S Sirsa, O P Sharma, BJP MP Parvesh Verma, and rebel AAP MLA Kapil Mishra started a parallel dharna outside the Cabinet Room at Delhi Secretariat, saying they will not leave till the one at the L-G House is called off. The five slept outside the room — the sofa, chairs, table and potted plants making way for mattresses at night.