New Delhi: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) ongoing stand-off with lieutenant governor (L-G) Anil Baijal spilled out on to the streets on Sunday with party supporters organizing a protest demonstration in central Delhi.

While the sit-in protest by Kejriwal and some of his cabinet colleagues at Baijal’s official residence entered the sixth day, AAP volunteers’ march towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official residence was cut short with the Delhi Police putting in place heavy security.

At the heart of the prolonged controversy is the AAP-led Delhi government’s allegations that the bureaucracy has been on a “strike" for four months (since an alleged assault on the chief secretary) and should be asked to return to work.

To counter the claims, members of Delhi’s IAS Association held a press conference at the capital’s Press Club of India and debunked the allegations. In a rare move, revenue secretary Manisha Saxena, transport commissioner Varsha Joshi, South Delhi district magistrate Amjad Tak and directorate of information and publicity secretary Jaydev Sarangi said they were neutral and “answerable" only to the law and the Constitution.

“We have been targeted and victimized and told that we are working with someone. We would like to inform that we are not on strike," Saxena told reporters. “We all are in our offices doing our work, conducting inspections and everybody is working with utmost sincerity and dedication."

However, Kejriwal also found support from four chief ministers, who requested the PM to intervene in the matter. The CMs—West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh’s Chandrababu Naidu, Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan and Karnataka’s H.D. Kumaraswamy—met Modi on the sidelines of the NITI Aayog meeting on Sunday and asked him to ensure that the “federal structure" of the Constitution is maintained.

“I along with the Hon’ble CMs of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala have requested the Hon’ble PM today to resolve the problems of the Delhi government immediately," Banerjee wrote on Twitter.

The support of the regional parties has not just brought arch-rivals Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Left parties together, but could also put the biggest opposition party, the Congress in a spot. While Congress has repeatedly spoken against AAP on the current issue, its new-found ally in Karnataka, the Janata Dal (Secular) has offered open support to the Delhi-based AAP.

In fact, for Congress, which has been the rallying point of key opposition parties, Delhi is a peculiar situation. Senior Congress leaders say AAP was not just its nemesis in the state, but also blames the Kejriwal-led party for anchoring the anti-corruption protests in 2013, which eventually led to the defeat of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government a year later.

Other friendly allies of Congress, including M.K. Stalin, working president of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), and Hemant Soren of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) also tweeted in support of Kejriwal. “Sir, not just Delhi but the entire country is requesting you to please end the strike of officials and allow the elected government to work. Public is feeling very hurt and disrespected," Kejriwal put out a tweet on Sunday evening while responding to Modi.

PTI contributed to this story.

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