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For AAP, mohalla clinics are crucial to healthcare — and political — plans

“There should be no politics with mohalla clinics... LG should call all officers and sort it out. I am prepared to come with my ministers. Let the LG sort out all objections across the table rather than files moving up and down," said CM Arvind Kejriwal

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal | New Delhi | Published: August 31, 2017 4:16:04 am
mohalla clinics, arvind kejriwal, anil bajilal, aap mlas, delhi healthcare failties, aap flagship mohalla clinic, Arvind Kejriwal and Anil Baijal(PTI/File)

At 3 pm on Wednesday, 43 AAP MLAs went to “request” Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal to give the clearance for mohalla clinics. Things went downhill soon after, with the party alleging the LG was attempting to “scuttle” the clinics, and Baijal hitting back saying the legislators were “laying siege” to his office. Policemen were deployed but the MLAs — who took to Facebook Live and unleashed a barrage of tweets — refused to budge.

AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj, who led the meeting between the MLAs and the LG, said the file for ‘in-principle clearance’ of the clinics had been returned to the Vigilance department following a complaint from Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken. “When we asked to discuss the matter, we were told there is no such file pending with the LG office,” said Bhardwaj.

Soon, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has so far avoided direct confrontation with Baijal, spoke to him on the phone. In a statement, Kejriwal said, “There should be no politics with mohalla clinics… LG should call all officers and sort it out. I am prepared to come with my ministers. Let the LG sort out all objections across the table rather than files moving up and down.”

AAP claimed that the LG left soon after, while the MLAs continued to wait. By 4:30 pm, heavy police deployment arrived at Raj Niwas, prompting the party to share photographs on social media.  An AAP leader claimed, “Perhaps there was an attempt to get the police to rush us out. But some of us began posting the entire thing live on Facebook. That stopped them.”

At 7.20 pm, Baijal issued a statement, claimed that the MLAs “stormed” Raj Niwas with “conduct unbecoming of
responsible elected representatives”. He claimed that in spite of the LG explaining the issue, they behaved in a “belligerent manner without any interest in responding to facts and logic”. Allegations and counter-allegations followed.

The LG office maintained that after receiving complaints, the file on mohalla clinics was sent to the CM on July 5 for “consideration and re-submission of the proposal taking into account the nature of complaints”. Kejriwal’s office responded, reiterating their claim that the complaints were “frivolous and political”, and said, “The Vigilance department refused to share it with the minister in-charge, Deputy Chief Minister Mr Manish Sisodia, despite his repeated reminders over several days.”

The LG added that when he spoke to Kejriwal, he wanted the issue to be solved in a “democratic manner” and not by “laying siege to the office of a constitutional functionary”. He added that Kejriwal “didn’t relent and did not come to the office of the LG, skipping the weekly meeting scheduled at  5 pm”.

Kejriwal’s office responded that the allegations were false. His office claimed Kejriwal had told Baijal that he was “willing to come over to the Raj Niwas along with the full council of ministers to discuss the issue and resolve it, but the LG refused”. The MLAs finally left Raj Niwas around 9 pm. A meeting between the LG, the CM and his Cabinet has been scheduled for 5 pm on Tuesday.

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