New Delhi: Delhi cabinet minister Satyendra Jain, who had been sitting in protest at Raj Niwas in the national capital since Monday evening, began an indefinite fast on Tuesday morning, escalating the standoff between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government and lieutenant governor (L-G) Anil Baijal.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and cabinet minister Gopal Rai continued to sit in at Raj Niwas for the second day.
All AAP members of the legislative assembly and other party leaders, councillors and volunteers are set to march to Raj Niwas on Wednesday to highlight their stand.
“We have been here since 5:30pm yesterday. We have two-three big demands. One is that officers do not attend meetings and don’t even reply to the calls of ministers. They are only doing work that needs to be done on an emergency basis but a lot of other work has been stalled due to this," Kejriwal said in a video message released from Raj Niwas.
He added, “We have written to the L-G on many occasions. The officers are being pressurized to go on strike. They don’t want the strike to end. We are sitting here for the people of Delhi. So that they can get better amenities."
The AAP alleges that attempts are being made by the L-G and the Prime Minister’s Office to hinder the functioning of the Delhi government.
Kejriwal, along with the four ministers, had visited the L-G on Monday evening to present a letter with three demands. They sat in protest after the L-G allegedly refused to accept their demands.
The state government wants Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officials who have been on strike in Delhi for four months, since an alleged assault on the chief secretary, to be directed to return to work. The government has claimed that the officials have not attended meetings and that this is affecting the work of the government and demanded that they be punished. They have said that the L-G should also approve the AAP government proposal of doorstep delivery of subsidised food.
The protest comes at a time when AAP, ahead of the 2019 general elections, is pushing for statehood for Delhi.
“PM Modi is behind the crippling of Delhi government’s functioning using the L-G as a pawn," said senior AAP leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh.
Opposition party leaders criticized the AAP government saying it had made a mockery of democracy.
“Delhi’s owner Kejriwal and company are protesting inside an air-conditioned room. They are only concerned about politics and not about people’s issues," said the leader of opposition in the assembly, Vijender Gupta.
PTI contributed to this story.