Arvind Kejriwal Stages First Dharna Since Return as Delhi Chief Minister

Calling the dharna by Arvind Kejriwal as a "protest without reason", the Lieutenant Governor has accused him of avoiding constructive deliberations.

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Mr Kejriwal and his party's lawmakers sat outside the lieutenant governor's office for three hours

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Arvind Kejriwal, AAP leaders stage protest outside L-G office in Delhi
  2. 3-hour dharna after Anil Baijal refuses to meet AAP lawmakers
  3. Meeting was to discuss dispute over installation of CCTVs in Delhi
In his first street protest after returning as Delhi Chief minister three years ago, Arvind Kejriwal and his party lawmakers today sat on a dharna outside the office of the lieutenant governor.

The visit that was meant to discuss the row over installation of closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs) in the national capital turned into a demonstration after Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal agreed to meet Mr Kejriwal and his ministers, not other lawmakers from the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). 

"It's not an insult to the MLAs (lawmakers) but to the people of Delhi who have elected them. L-G is duty-bound under a constitutional obligation to meet MLAs. We are here to discuss an important issue related to women's safety," said Mr Kejriwal. 

At the heart of the dispute lies an order by Mr Baijal last week to set up a committee that would draw up procedures for installing, operating and monitoring CCTVs.

Mr Kejriwal's government has disagreed, saying the move was aimed at delaying the government's proposal to install surveillance cameras, a key election promise made by AAP.

Calling the dharna by Mr Kejriwal as a "protest without reason", Mr Baijal has accused the chief minister of avoiding "constructive deliberations". 

"The chief minister was more comfortable in making allegations against the Lt Governor without basis and based on unwarranted apprehensions," said a press release from Mr Baijal's office.  

Asserting that no instruction has been given to stall any move by the government to install CCTVs, the lieutenant governor said Mr Kejriwal has "conveniently ignored" the fact that his own cabinet has not even considered the proposal.

"The aim of the government cannot be mere physical installation of CCTV cameras. Rather the objective should be on how CCTVs will be used to enhance security and safety of women, aged and vulnerable sections, how these will be used to prevent and detect crime without at the same time compromising with the fundamental right of privacy," said Mr Baijal. 

Mr Kejriwal took to Twitter, saying it was not a protest. 
Yesterday, Mr Baijal wrote to the Delhi government saying it was unfortunate that the government was "deliberately misleading" the the public and the media on the issue.

In his letter, Mr Baijal said while the government has been talking about installation of CCTVs for the last three years without much concrete progress, over two lakh cameras had already been installed by the Delhi Police, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, the Delhi Development Authority, various local bodies, market associations and resident welfare groups.

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In his reply, Mr Kejriwal asked the lieutenant governor of politicising the issue.

"Why didn't you set up a committee then? Now, when the Delhi government wants to install CCTV cameras, you have set up this committee arbitrarily, bypassing the elected government," wrote Mr Kejriwal in his letter.

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