They swapped positions, changed sofas, stretched a little and tweeted occasionally. On Tuesday, the visitor’s room at the Delhi Lt Governor’s office remained occupied for the second straight day, with its four occupants not showing any signs of vacating it. In an unprecedented development, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his lieutenants Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai — who began a sit-in inside the Raj Niwas around 6 pm on Monday — have not come out of the sprawling complex in Civil Lines since then.
Unrelenting on his demand that the L-G must order the IAS officers to end their nearly four-month-long “strike”, Kejriwal made it clear that not only does he plan to continue the dharna, but the AAP will further raise the heat over the issue with its MLAs marching to Raj Niwas at 4 pm on Wednesday. Jain also launched an indefinite hunger strike over the demands. The rest had home-made food, a CM aide said. In his video message from the L-G House, Kejriwal said, “We are not sitting here for ourselves. We are sitting here for the people of Delhi, for schools, water, mohalla clinics, so that the people of Delhi get the facilities.” Following a meeting of the party’s legislators and leaders at Kejriwal’s residence, AAP national secretary Pankaj Gupta said there has been no communication from Baijal’s side so far to end the deadlock.
He also announced a march, which is being seen as an attempt to galvanise the party’s rank and file over the issue. The IAS officers maintained that terming the agitation as a “strike” was wrong, as they have merely been skipping routine meetings to protest against the alleged assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash at the CM’s residence on February 19. Police barricaded all lanes leading to Raj Niwas while the party put up a tent outside Kejriwal’s residence for its workers. Throughout the day, charges were traded between the AAP government and the officers on Twitter and WhatsApp, with AAP officials alleging that the officers had been skipping work. The CM, in his video address, said some work was being done and officials were on a “partial strike”.
The IAS Association, however, denied the allegations, saying that reports of them striking work were “baseless and false”. “All officers, including IAS officers, are working with full vigour and dedication,” a statement issued by the association said.
The AAP also released a set of weekly reports, signed by WCD (director) Shilpa Shinde, to establish that non-cooperation by officials was affecting work. Six reports that stated that there was “nil” progress to be reported from the department were shared by AAP and ministers on Twitter. Shinde sought to set the record straight by releasing another set of documents, which included three reports from the department to show that work was done on other weeks.
“The allegation that officers are not meeting ministers is not entirely correct. Meetings have been attended during the preparation of the budget, cabinet decisions, and several other issues,” said a senior officer who did not want to be named.