‘Center restricting federal system’: CMs of West Bengal, Andhra, Kerala, Karnataka support Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s protest

New Delhi: The six-day sit-in by Arvind Kejriwal and members of his Cabinet at the lieutenant-governor’s office magnified into a larger political battle on June 16, with chief ministers of four non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states descending on the national Capital in a show of support to the chief minister.
Mamata Banerjee, HD Kumaraswamy, Pinarayi Vijayan and N Chandrababu Naidu, chief ministers of West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, respectively, paid a visit to Kejriwal’s house after being denied permission by L-G Anil Baijal to call on the Delhi CM who has been holed up in the visitors’ room of the L-G’s office with deputy Manish Sisodia, PWD minister Satyendar Jain and labor minister Gopal Rai.
The chief ministers are in town to attend a Niti Aayog meeting to be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 17.
“Tomorrow, in the meeting of Niti Aayog, all four of us will speak to the PM and seek his intervention in resolving the ongoing crisis in the national Capital. For four months work in Delhi has come to a halt. This is not the time to blame anyone, but the L-G and the Center need to act now. What happens in the national capital will set a bad example for other states too,” Mamata Banerjee said at a press conference addressed by all four chief ministers. She described the impasse in Delhi — with the bureaucrats on one side and the government on the other — as a “constitutional crisis”.
The gesture of support by the chief ministers becomes even more significant considering the Opposition is in the process of building a federal front against the BJP, with Trinamool Congress chief Banerjee seen as one of its prime movers and with Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) having recently parted ways with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over “special status” to Andhra Pradesh.
Two requests, one by Banerjee and another by the four CMs together, to L-G Baijal for a meeting with Kejriwal were rejected by Baijal’s office. When asked if the CMs would still go to the L-G office, Banerjee said: “We did not get permission to meet the L-G or Kejriwal. We are not beggars. We waited for 3-4 hours for L-G’s response. Police also asked us not to enter.”
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An official from the L-G’s office confirmed that the CMs’ request to meet Kejriwal was turned down. “They can meet anywhere outside. Why should the L-G’s office be a venue for them to make political statement? Yesterday, we had denied Kejriwal’s family and others precisely for this reason,” the official said.
Kejriwal took to twitter on protest against the denial of permission. “I don’t think L-G can take such a decision on his own. Obviously, PMO has directed him to refuse permission. Just like IAS strike is being done at PMO’s instance.We live in a democracy. Can PM deny Hon’ble CMs of other states to meet CM of another state? Raj Niwas is no one’s personal property. It belongs to the people of India,” he tweeted. The CMs jointly said that the mandate of Delhi’s people should be respected. Naidu described the situation in Delhi as “unfortunate”, and urged the state and Centre to work together. “We have to solve the issue amicably,” he said.
The BJP said it was fitting that the Naidu and Kejriwal were coming together. “AP CM Chadrababu Naidu & Delhi CM @arvindkejriwal have one thing in common. Both have horribly failed to perform as CMs. Their fasts, protests are to hide their failures. AP CM @ncbn is also ‘wasting’ public money on 5-star protests, farcically claiming to be doing so for funds.”
Vijayan, who leads the Left government in Kerala, said the problem was because of the “attitude” of the Centre. “Ours is a democratic country, following the federal system. Destructing the federal system is a threat to the country,” he said.
Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said that it was unfortunate that the four CMs had allowed themselves to be part of Kejriwal’s “dhrana tamasha.” “In fact they should advise CM Delhi @ArvindKejriwal to focus on resolving severe Drinking Water Crisis which the people of Delhi are now facing, earn the confidence of Delhi officers,” Tiwari tweeted.
Kejriwal and the ministers refused to Baijal’s office again on Saturday, saying they would stay put until the L-G ordered bureaucrats posted in Delhi government to withdraw their “strike” and attend meetings with ministers . The CM alleged there was de facto President’s Rule in Delhi. The IAS officers’ association denies there is any strike and says the secretariat is functioning normally.
Four BJP leaders, meanwhile, continued to be camped in the visitors’ room of the chief minister’s office at the Delhi secretariat, refusing to move until Kejriwal returned to work. The Aam Aadmi Party said it was preparing for a protest, demanding the current crisis be resolved and full statehood be granted to Delhi, which is administered partly by the government, partly by the Centre, and part of whose civic administration is handled by elected municipal bodies. The AAP has planned a march from Mandi House to the prime minister’s residence on Lok Kalyan Marg on June 17 morning.

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