Claiming a “partial victory” for the people of Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday evening called off his 32-hour dharna after Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung sent on “leave with full pay” two of the five “errant” policemen against whom he had demanded action.
Mr. Kejriwal termed the “partial meeting” of his demands as a first “solid step to ensure accountability of the police to the people of Delhi and full Statehood to Delhi.”
Mr. Kejriwal also said the police had arrested all the accused in the alleged burning of a woman in Mangolpuri, the constituency of Women and Child Welfare Minister Rakhi Birla.
Aam Aadmi Party sources said “the compromise” was arrived at when Mr. Kejriwal was advised at a party meeting that this was “the best possible offer from the Centre.”
‘Win some, lose some’
The ‘win some, lose some’ agreement — the AAP had initially demanded that the policemen be suspended but later said they should be transferred until the judicial probe was completed — was facilitated by back-channel talks.
Congress sources said Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde met party vice-president Rahul Gandhi at a meeting of the party’s Alliance Committee, where he briefed Mr. Gandhi on the attempts being made to end the stalemate.
Shortly thereafter, Congress general secretary Ajay Maken appealed to the AAP to call off its agitation.
Mr. Maken, who appeared to be in the know of the behind-the-scenes consultations, said the people of Delhi were suffering due to the protest. Within five minutes of his appeal, Mr. Kejriwal called off his protest.
The L-G, in a letter to Mr. Kejriwal, said the two police officers — the SHO of Malviya Nagar Police Station in South Delhi and the in-charge of the Paharganj PCR Van — had been sent on leave.
Mr. Jung also announced that the judicial inquiry into the episode involving Delhi Ministers Somnath Bharti and Ms. Birla and the policemen would be “expedited.”
Addressing party workers after ending his protest, Mr. Kejriwal apologised to commuters for any inconvenience caused as the Central government, and not the Delhi government, had ordered the closure of all Metro stations around the protest site.
Earlier in the day, the police lathi-charged AAP supporters attempting to break barricades, injuring around a dozen.
Mr. Kejriwal faced all-round criticism during the agitation with both the BJP and the Congress accusing him of spreading “anarchy” in the Capital.
On Monday, there were only about 200 volunteers who had joined Mr. Kejriwal for the dharna, which increased to about 1,500 on Tuesday — still well short of the AAP’s expectations.
In the biting cold of Delhi, Mr. Kejriwal slept on the road next to his car on Monday night while other AAP supporters made arrangements for their stay at the dharna site. He refused to relocate to Jantar Mantar as suggested by the Home Ministry.
“Have the people of Delhi given Mr. Shinde the right to make decisions for them? No. I am the elected CM of Delhi. How can Shinde ask me where to sit in protest in Delhi? I will tell him where to sit,” he told party workers.