New Delhi: Denied permission to meet Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is on a sit-in protest at Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal's for six days, the Chief Ministers of four non-BJP ruled states stood by their Delhi counterpart and sought the Prime Minister's intervention to resolve the crisis. Mr Kejriwal and three ministers have been on a dharna at Mr Baijal's house since Monday evening, demanding that the "strike" by IAS officers in Delhi be called off as governance is suffering.
- Arvind Kejriwal, three ministers on a sit-in at Lt Governor's office
- Four chief ministers have extended support
- "This is a constitutional crisis," says Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her counterparts from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala, who are in Delhi to attend a meeting of NITI Aayog chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, wrote to Mr Baijal on Saturday evening that they be allowed to meet Mr Kejriwal, a request that was not granted.
This is getting more and more bizarre, tweeted Mr Kejriwal.
"This is not democracy, where we are not being allowed to meet a Chief Minister. A wrong message is being sent out. If this happens in the capital of the country, what happens to other states? This is a constitutional crisis. We will request the PM to solve the problem", Ms Banerjee said at a joint press conference.
The four Chief Ministers, who visited Mr Kejriwal's house last evening and had planned to march to the Lt Governor's house dropped the idea after they were denied permission. "We are not street beggars, we have self-respect", said Ms Banerjee.
Mr Kejriwal told NDTV on Saturday that the officers' strike was at the "instance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi". Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan blamed the centre for the crisis.
"Because of the attitude of the central government this has happened. The centre is restricting the federal system which is a threat to the nation. Everyone is with him (Mr Kejriwal)", said Mr Vijayan.
While the IAS association has claimed that no officer is on strike, Mr Kejriwal counters it by saying no officer takes calls from ministers or attends any meeting called by them to protest an alleged attack on Delhi Chief Secretary in February this year.
"It's not correct that the matter hasn't been solved in four months. Does the LG not have six minutes to meet the Chief Minister who has been on dharna for six days. If this happens in the country's capital, what about the situation in other states", asked Ms Banerjee who backed efforts to cobble up a coalition of opposition parties in the run-up to next year's general elections.
"There is a democratically elected government in Delhi. It must be allowed to function", said Mr Naidu.
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, whose swearing-in ceremony last month had turned into a show of opposition unity, demanded that the centre take immediate steps to end the impasse in Delhi. A host of opposition leaders including Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had attended the oath-taking ceremony in Bengaluru.
"We came here to show support to the Delhi Chief Minister, to save democracy", said Mr Kumaraswamy.
Mr Kejriwal thanked the four Chief Ministers, saying "we all will work together to save democracy".
Both the BJP and the Congress have called Mr Kejriwal's protest a drama, accusing him of shirking responsibility at a time Delhi is facing power cuts and water crisis.
Mr Kejriwal's dharna has got support from a wide section of opposition parties that have attacked the centre for what they call interfering in the functioning of Delhi government.
Asked about the Congress stance on Mr Kejriwal's protest, Ms Banerjee said "Congress has its own existence in Delhi so they don't want other political parties to grow. It is their internal problem".