Unprecedented unity among non-BJP chief ministers as Delhi LG denies Mamata Banerjee permission to meet Arvind Kejriwal

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In an unprecedented development four chief ministers of India’s key states on Saturday came together in their support for Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. They included West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamay and their Kerala and Andhra Pradesh counterparts, Pinarayi Vijayan and N Chandrababu Naidu respectively.

Mamata Banerjee

This was after Delhi LG Anil Baijal denied Banerjee permission to meet Kejriwal, who’s been protesting at the former’s residence for last six days.

One AAP leader said on Saturday that Banerjee had sought time from Baijal to meet Kejriwal who is sitting on protest at Raj Niwas – the official accommodation-cum-office of LG.

“West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee asks LG to let her meet Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal this evening at 8pm,” Aam Aadmi Party leader Raghav Chadha tweeted. Moments later, his follow-up tweet read, “Permission denied by LG. Extremely sad state of affairs.”

Banerjee’s letter to Baijal, written on the government of West Bengal letter head, read, “Ms Mamata Banerjee, Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal would like to meet the Chief Minister, Delhi, Shri Arvind Kejriwal today i.e. 16.06.2018 at 8.00 PM. I would request you to kindly facilitate the access of the Hon’ble Chief Minister, West Bengal at the Lieutenant Governor Secretariat Office to meet the Chief Minister, Delhi.”

However, the LG office reportedly turned down her request prompting the chief ministers from four key states to meet at the Delhi chief minister’s official residence at 6 Flag Staff Road and send a joint letter to Delhi LG.

The content of the joint letter read, “All of us would like to make representation to you w.r.t the issue concerning the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi, Shri Arvind Kejriwal. Please grant us a meeting slot today as we are waiting. We request you to give us time around 09:00 PM today.”

Banerjee then took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi by saying, “if you cannot solve a small issue relating to Delhi, then how will you solve the larger issues of the country?” Delhi LG reports to the central government via the ministry of home affairs. Banerjee then told reporters, “Delhi has nearly two crore population. There can be nothing more unfortunate than to see the administrative work coming to a halt for last four months. First you (LG) should have resolved the matter by talking to each other. Why did it take so long. We didn’t get six minutes or even six seconds to meet the LG. Who do we contact now?”

Naidu, who recently snapped ties with the NDA, wrote on Twitter, “We came here to express our support to Delhi CM @ArvindKejriwal. The LG has to allow this government to function. We had asked permission from the LG to see the CM to which there was no response.”

The LG’s decision to turn down the request of India’s four chief ministers for a meeting with a fifth elected chief minister did not go down well on social media particularly among journalists and commentators, who vented out their anger on the central government.

There were also plenty of criticism for the Congress, whose role has for intense scrutiny given in ,light of the much-talked-about unity of the opposition parties ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Journalist Tony Joseph asked, “There is no need for Congress to support AAP. But there is a need for it to oppose the Centre on its blatantly anti-democratic actions. These two things are not necessarily contradictory. But it requires deft articulation.”

Former diplomat KC Singh tweeted, “My advice of three days ago obviously had no effect in @RahulGandhi. Glad 4 CMs now following up on what @YashwantSinha & I did two days ago by attempting to go see @ArvindKejriwal or LG & were turned away. Cong seems like BJP B Team tonite.”

Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Hegde tagged Congress President Rahul Gandhi and wrote, “Many people like me will vote strongest anti-BJP candidate at constituency level. If Congress in Delhi & AAP do not hang together now, they will hang separately later. Especially when rest of opposition like Mamta & NCBN here, Congress absence will hurt it later @RahulGandhi.”

This assumed significance given that Kumaraswamy is being supported by the Congress in Karnataka and Puducherry CM N Narayanasamy had last week supported Kejriwal’s decision to stage a sit-in. Like Kejriwal, Narayanasamy too has been facing the alleged intervention by LG Kiran Bedi in Puducherry.

Kejriwal, along with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Cabinet ministers Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai, is camping at Raj Niwas since Monday demanding a direction to the IAS officers working in the Delhi administration to end their undeclared strike, among other demands.

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