With half the Delhi Cabinet camping inside his office for over 72 hours, L-G Anil Baijal Thursday met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. While it was not immediately clear as to what transpired in the meeting, the development assumes significance in view of the unprecedented standoff. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him, “with folded hands”, to intervene and end the agitation of the IAS officers. He also listed a number of instances to make his case that the protests — following the alleged assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash on February 20 — had affected administrative work.
“This is the first strike by IAS officers in the history of India. People have started saying that the L-G and Centre are anchoring it… Only you and L-G can end this strike. Since L-G is not willing to do it, Delhi government and the people urge you with folded hands to end the strike so that work can resume in Delhi,” he wrote in the letter.
Kejriwal also alleged that his brother, who had come from Pune, was not allowed to meet him. Later, the CM’s wife, Sunita Kejriwal, was also “denied” entry. In the evening, the AAP took out a march at Rajghat and was joined by CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat.
During the day, several other opposition parties — including the SP, RJD, Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam — also backed the dharna led by Kejriwal. Leaders of some of these parties are expected to join the AAP’s planned march to the PM’s residence Sunday.
Inside Raj Niwas, a meeting on air pollution that was chaired by Baijal was shifted from the main conference hall — the usual site for such engagements — to a room in the L-G’s quarters, according to senior officials. It is learnt that the decision was prompted by the apprehension that Kejriwal and his three ministers, who are on a dharna in the visitor’s room of Raj Niwas, might “walk in” during the meeting. The visitor’s room opens to the conference hall, where the L-G usually chairs meetings with senior officials.
Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain, Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, Principal Secretary (Home) Manoj Parida and Supreme Court-appointed EPCA chief Bhure Lal were among the senior officials present at the 3 pm meeting. Sources said it was “cordial”.
Earlier in the day, Hussain had called a parallel meeting on the issue at the Delhi Secretariat — also scheduled for 3 pm. He subsequently cancelled it and said he would attend the L-G’s meeting.
AAP hit out, saying Baijal’s choice of time was reflective of the fact that he was trying to “shield IAS officers as it will not force them to attend the minister’s meeting, which would go against their ongoing strike”.
During the day, doctors checked the vitals of Jain and Sisodia, who are on an indefinite hunger strike. As per party statements, Sisodia has lost over 2 kg while Jain’s blood sugar level dipped. Baijal has not reached out to end the impasse, claimed the party. AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said “The CM has been staging a sit-in at the L-G Secretariat for the last four days. We want to ask whether he (Baijal) could not spare even four minutes to meet him.”