A dharna was called by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his 60 MLAs Monday, after L-G Anil Baijal said he would only meet the cabinet to discuss the issue of CCTV cameras. The impasse ended in the evening after Kejriwal promised public meetings to formulate a plan for installation of CCTVs.
The CM and his entire team initially planned to meet Baijal. But after walking for half-an-hour and reaching the venue, they sat on a dharna outside a small lane leading to Raj Niwas — in response to the L-G’s office conveying that only ministers would be allowed to meet him.
The dispute around the CCTV project — one of AAP’s key poll promises — was sparked off by the L-G’s decision to form a panel to look into privacy concerns, without consulting the government. The timing of the L-G’s decision has been slammed by AAP, as it came within a day of Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken alleging corruption in the PWD’s
Rs 571-crore tender to install around 1.4 lakh CCTVs.
After three hours of waiting and repeated communications between Kejriwal and Baijal that yielded no result, the CM announced a new plan which, party leaders said, had been charted before the march even began.
“People will prepare the SOP now. We will go to RWAs. Cameras will be installed as per the demands at the local level, from RWAs and women. We will call local-level sabhas, and then a bigger meeting will be called. The SOP of shahenshah’s committee will not be followed,” said Kejriwal.
“He (L-G) will have to meet the MLAs. It is not about the prestige of the MLAs; he has insulted the people of Delhi…
We are not seeking personal favours, we are here to talk about women’s safety,” he added. Minutes after the protest ended, the L-G termed it a “protest without reason”, alleging that AAP “preferred to sit on dharna rather than meeting” the L-G to “resolve the issue”.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, PWD Minister Satyendar Jain and Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot were among those who sat in protest. Familiar scenes then played out: Water bottles were brought in, and instructions were issued to ensure the protest doesn’t lose steam as MLAs sang hymns and shouted slogans asking the L-G to “come to his senses”. AAP reiterated the argument that by “delaying” the project, the L-G was working “against women’s security”. AAP MLA Alka Lamba said, “Does the L-G not want women and children in our city to be safe?”
But the L-G office maintained that the CM was “more comfortable” making allegations and had ignored the fact that his Cabinet had not “considered the departmental proposal for CCTV”.
This prompted a series of tweets between Baijal and Kejriwal. The CM wrote on Twitter, “If no proposal for CCTV (was) received, then why did you set up (a) committee?” AAP maintained that the committee had been formed without informing the government. Denying this, the L-G office said, “The home secretary belongs to the government and apart from that, the committee has been asked to ensure all stakeholders are kept in the loop.”