In yet another flashpoint between Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Tuesday the government would move the Supreme Court seeking a temporary ban on the sealing drive being carried out by the corporations.
Kejriwal claimed the BJP, which controls three municipal corporations in the capital (East, North and South), refused to discuss the issue with him, thus forcing him to approach the Supreme Court to seek relief. A BJP delegation led by Delhi unit president Manoj Tiwari walked out of the CM’s residence ahead of a meeting, alleging that the AAP government wanted to “divert” the issue.
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“The Delhi government will approach the SC seeking a temporary ban on sealing drive. BJP has refused to speak to me, so I am forced to knock on the doors of the apex court,” the Delhi CM said. Kejriwal said a petition had already been drafted and it was being scrutinised by government lawyers.
Soon after, Tiwari, addressing a press conference, said, “I am very shocked. Today, in this democratic country, someone’s sentiments have been hurt. On this day, events which bring shame to certain beliefs which represent our country’s culture — Atithi Devo Bhavah and loktantra (democracy) — took place outside the CM’s residence.”
“I am feeling safe right now because I am talking to you in our BJP office at 14th Pant Marg. Preety Agarwal, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation Mayor, was attacked at the CM’s residence. Forget that she is a mayor, she is a woman,” Tiwari added. He also alleged that another EDMC member Neema Bhagat received injuries on her stomach after she was manhandled.
Tiwari added, “I would like to request Arvind Kejriwal to stop politicising the matter. The MCDs, in a special joint session, passed a resolution to put a stay on the ongoing sealing drive. I request him to call an emergency session on this resolution. Otherwise, Kejriwal should resign.”
“The BJP is troubled by sealing. We have held several meetings and we also met the monitoring committee and requested to call the Chief Minister, MCD and ministers and come up with a time frame so that traders and labourers do not face any difficulty,” he added. Tiwari said that he would pen an open letter to Kejriwal inviting him for talks on the issue at Ramlila Maidan.
The corporations have been carrying out sealing drives since December last year, with thousands of shops being sealed on the instructions of the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee. The shops were sealed for non-payment of conversion charges, encroachment and illegal construction. Also, 351 roads have been sealed and the corporations have demanded they be notified as commercial or mixed-land use by the Delhi government.
The sealing drive has affected lakhs of traders, Kejriwal claimed and put the blame on Lieutenant Governor (LG) Anil Baijal for staying mum on the issue. Kejriwal said if the Delhi government, LG and the Centre held a meeting together, the matter could be solved in 24 hours. “The has been no action from the LG. The traders are upset. LG, BJP and Centre can solve the issue in 24 hours if they hold a meeting,” the AAP’s national convenor said.