For a week, nearly 60% of the Delhi cabinet, holding sway over 16 crucial ministries voluntarily parked itself in the waiting room of the LG’s office in New Delhi. 4 senior doctors, including the medical head of the of the LNJP hospital, made daily visits to check the health of the Delhi Cabinet lying on the sofas of air-conditioned waiting rooms. All this, to end what the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has claimed is a 4 month-long ‘strike‘ by the IAS officers. A claim that has been rejected in a categorical statement by IAS AGMUT, which has highlighted that all official duties are being carried out.
A cursory search will show Arvind Kejriwal has personally inaugurated a rooftop solar plant at a housing society on May 14th, a swimming pool in a school on April 7th, the Magenta line of the Delhi Metro on May 28th and a power substation in South Delhi on June 10th (incidentally, just one day before the Chief Minister started his sit-in at the LG’s office to end the purported strike by the IAS officers). How could the Delhi government complete these projects in the past 4 months and claim credit through elaborate inauguration photo ops, if the key IAS officers manning the departments handling these projects were on strike, as Arvind Kejriwal claims? The Chutzpah of it, do you see it?
The Delhi Chief Minister has also lamented the fact that his brother who came in all the way from Pune was not allowed to meet him – In the waiting room of the LG’s office. Sunita Kejriwal chimed in. On 14th June, The Delhi Chief Minister’s wife accompanied by her mother-in-law and the wives of Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai and Satyendra Jain marched to meet their spouses – at the LG’s office, and were duly denied permission. She went on to say ‘Even prisoners are allowed to meet their family members‘. Except, the LG’s waiting room isn’t a prison. It is a public office meant to seat people who have official business with the LG.
Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet can step out to meet their wives (and any other relatives for that matter) or even go back to air-conditioned rooms with sofas in their own government provided homes and have a nice conjugal chat. It is not Sunita Kejriwal’s constitutional right to meet her husband inside the LG’s office. The Chutzpah of it. Do you see it?
The band of opposition leaders has predictably taken a one-sided stand in supporting the Delhi Chief Minister’s untenable position, instead of standing by the ‘working class heroes’ – the IAS officers who make Delhi tick. Brinda Karat of the CPI(M), the party whose constitution says they are the ‘Revolutionary vanguard of the working class of India‘, wrote an elaborate editorial on ‘The Kejriwal Protest And Why We Should Back It‘, perhaps not realizing her editorial backed the political ruler of a state and not its working-class IAS officers.
Arvind Kejriwal has even attempted to weave the story of opposition unity around his cabinet squatting at the LG’s office. On June 16th, Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu, Pinari Vijayan and HD Kumaraswamy who were in the capital for a NITI Aayog Meeting, decided to march to the LG’s office to meet Arvind Kejriwal. Promptly denied permission, the entire affair was spun as a case of the central government not allowing 4 state Chief Ministers to meet the Delhi Chief Minister.
Ramachandra Guha even tweeted that the ‘Modi regime thinks New Delhi is still an imperial capital’. It didn’t dawn on Mr Guha that the Delhi Chief Minister has his own office, where he could generously and comfortably host his political allies, without seeking any permissions. It is anybody’s guess as to why, in the 1484 square kilometres of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal wished to meet his political allies only in the waiting room of the LG’s office, that too on a Saturday night. The Chutzpah of it. Do you see it?
So, while opposition leaders (and historians) are standing up for the political strongman in Arvind Kejriwal, who is standing up for the working class government officers of Delhi?
On February 22nd, the top IAS officer of Delhi, 57-year-old Anshu Prakash, was invited to a meeting close to midnight (well past working hours) with the MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party at the Delhi Chief Minister’s residence, wherein the Chief Secretary was allegedly manhandled following which an FIR was lodged. Ever since, the IAS officers, in solidarity with the Chief Secretary, observed a 5-minute silence in the afternoon, wore black bands to work and insisted on written instructions instead of verbal orders in ad-hoc midnight meetings, that make them feel unsafe. That is the extent of their ‘non-cooperation’ and so-called ‘strike’. The IAS simply demanded an apology and a ‘conducive work environment where officers do not feel threatened, intimidated or humiliated‘. Arvind Kejriwal hasn’t apologized to the IAS officers for making them feel unsafe at work.
The Delhi Chief Minister, however, has apologized to his political adversaries – Bikram Majithia (Akali Dal), Nitin Gadkari (BJP), Kapil Sibal (Congress) and Arun Jaitley (BJP) because his legal team advised he would lose the defamation cases and therefore lose his right to contest elections. Arvind Kejriwal has apologized in the past to save his own political skin. But, Arvind Kejriwal wouldn’t apologize to his own officers, for the sake of Delhi and it’s people. The Chutzpah of it, Do you see it?
Instead of ending the stalemate back in February with a simple apology and a statement of assurance, such as the one he finally gave on June 17th, Arvind Kejriwal predictably chose the path of most resistance. Delhi Chief Minister unproductively squatted at the LG’s waiting room for days skipped a crucial policy defining Niti Aayog meeting and mobilized scores of AAP party workers to clog the streets of Delhi in a protest march towards the PM’s residence.
AAP has also planned a door to door campaign to get a million signatures in support of Arvind Kejriwal’s stand against the LG. Recently Arvind Kejriwal tweeted– ‘Centre is insulting the people of Delhi who elected Delhi govt. People will decide‘. The people must decide – to call out Kejriwal’s Chutzpah. So, if AAP volunteers ever head out door-to-door to seek signatures of 10 lakh Delhi Citizens, the citizens must duly sign the petition. And, add some words of solemn advice for Arvind Kejriwal, next to their signatures – ‘End the Chutzpah‘.