By Nivedita Singh
Accusing the Modi government of not paying attention to Delhi’s elected government, Delhi cabinet Minister Gopal Rai said such a regime will never listen to the common man and dubbed the current situation an “undeclared Emergency”.
“Those who are not listening to the elected Chief Minister will never listen to a common man ever. This is a beginning of dictatorship and an attempt to end democracy. Our fight is to save the Constitution. It is an undeclared Emergency,” Rai told IANS in an interview.
Not commenting on the chances of being a part of a united opposition, Rai said all political parties were standing together as they were against the “dictatorship”.
“It is not a matter of alliance but a matter of dictatorship,” Rai told IANS over telephone from Raj Niwas where he has been camping along with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and cabinet minister Satyandar Jain since Monday.
Rai said: “It is the first time that an elected government is helpless. We want to work for the people who have elected us, but due to the IAS strike, we are not able to do anything.
“Monsoon is coming. We have to work on de-silting, dengue prevention and so much more, but all the work is paralysed.”
He said the Delhi government approached Lt. Governor Anil Baijal “nine times in the past three months” but no action was been taken vis-a-vis the non-cooperating officers.
Kejriwal also wants approval from the Centre for his government’s proposal to supply ration to the poor at their houses.
The Delhi government accuses the IAS officers of being on de facto strike for the past three months after an alleged assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash by two AAP MLAs in the presence of Kejriwal.
Commenting on the stand of the IAS officers, Rai said: “If they are so scared, how will they work?
“When one walks on the road, there is also fear. We don’t stop walking on the road because of this fear.
“The main issue is there are some officers who want to work and are happy with us. They too are being forced not to attend our meetings. The Centre and the LG are misusing their powers. The strike is planned by them,” he said.
The four Delhi Ministers were not being allowed to meet people. Those approaching Baijal’s office to meet them are denied permission.
Those denied permission include former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), Pinarayi Vijayan (Kerala), H.D. Kumaraswamy (Karnataka) and N. Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh) besides the families of Kejriwal and the Ministers.
The personal staff of the Ministers have also been kept away from the Raj Niwas. “Even prisoners are allowed to have visitors, but we are not,” Rai lamented.
“We (Kejriwal and I) are eating food from the Chief Minister’s house as Jain and Sisodia are on hunger strike. People are leaving the food and other essentials at the entrance of the LG office, from where the security personnel supplying them to us,” Rai said.
“We were expecting that he (LG) will agree with our demands. We told him to take his time while we are waiting here. But he is not even acknowledging our presence.”
On the accusations that they were protesting to hide their failure, Rai said all the parties contest elections, “How many times have you seen a Chief Minister on strike to hide his failures?
“How many times have you seen cabinet ministers on hunger strike to hide the work not done by them. We are here because we are not allowed to work. We want to work, but don’t have enough power in hand,” he added.
Rai, who suffers from spinal injury, said it was wrong to say they were having a comfortable time at Raj Niwas.
“Only we know how uncomfortable it is. We are sleeping by rotation. I wonder how people can assume that sleeping on the sofa can be comfortable. This is our dedication for the people of Delhi.”
(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)