Nine days of Delhi dharna: a recap

In Delhi, a tale of two dharnas

Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain at Raj Niwas.

Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain at Raj Niwas.   | Photo Credit: 14DEL MINISTERS

CM on one hand and BJP on the other continue to protest

As Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and three Ministers continued to occupy a visitors’ room in Raj Niwas for the fourth day, a meeting that would have ordinarily taken place in the conference room next to the site of the dharna was shifted to the residential portion of the premises.

On Thursday, Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal chaired a meeting to discuss measures to control the ongoing spike in pollution. The meeting was attended by Environment and Forest Minister Imran Hussain, senior Delhi government officers and other stakeholders.

From photos released by Raj Niwas, the venue of the meeting was visibly different from the conference room. A government official who attended the meeting confirmed that the meeting took place not in a conference room, but in what looked like a dining room. The official added that attendees entered Raj Niwas from the back entrance, walking across a lawn and into the residence of the L-G.

Mr. Kejriwal, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, and Ministers Gopal Rai and Satyendar Jain remained in the visitors’ room they have been in since Monday evening. The four Aam Aadmi Party leaders have said they will not leave till the L-G ends the strike by officers and clears the government’s proposal for doorstep delivery of ration. Officers have restricted themselves to written communication with the political executive in protest against the alleged assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash by AAP MLAs at Mr. Kejriwal’s residence in February. Raj Niwas and the officers have denied the strike.

No visitors allowed

Having received a change of clothes, their first since the sit-in began, the AAP leaders were not allowed to meet visiting family members. Mr. Kejriwal said in a tweet that his brother had come from Pune and was not allowed in. The Chief Minister’s wife, Sunita Kejriwal, said in a tweet that she, her mother-in-law and the wives of Mr. Sisodia and Mr. Jain were also not allowed to enter Raj Niwas. During the day, doctors examined Mr. Sisodia and Mr. Jain, who are on indefinite fast. According to a spokesperson, Mr. Sisodia’s weight decreased from 88.5 kg at 7.30 a.m. to 86.4 kg as of 6.30 p.m.

At the same time, BJP leaders continued their sit-in outside the Chief Minister’s office in the Delhi Secretariat for a second day. BJP MP Parvesh Verma, MLAs Vijender Gupta, Manjinder Singh Sirsa and Jagdish Pradhan and suspended AAP MLA Kapil Mishra demanded a meeting with the Chief Minister, who they accused of striking work.

The third floor of the Secretariat had been taken over by the dharna, with banners hanging from railings. Mattresses had been brought in by the leaders and a TV provided by the General Administration Department, a senior official said. The leaders had asked for access to a washroom with a shower, but the official said there was no such facility available.

The BJP leaders had hung a banner from the roof of the building that read there was no strike at the Secretariat, but the Chief Minister was on holiday. The banner had been taken down soon after it was put up. Referring to the banner, Mr. Kejriwal tweeted, “Absolutely shocking. How was it allowed? Who allowed this to happen? Where was Police, Security, Bureaucracy? [sic]”.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 9:47:11 PM |

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