Delhi: Opposition unity at LG’s residence minus the Congress
Chief ministers of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala rallied behind their Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal, who has been protesting at the Raj Niwas for six consecutive days demanding that the "strike" by bureaucrats in the city be called off.
At the press conference at Kejriwal's residence, West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh's N Chandrababu Naidu, Karnataka's H D Kumaraswamy and Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan asked the Centre to resolve the "crisis" immediately.
The open support to the Aam Aadmi Party chief by the four regional heavyweights - from Trinamool Congress, Telugu Desam Party, Janata Dal (Secular) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) - comes amid opposition efforts to cobble together a rainbow coalition ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
But the Congress, which has been eyeing a grand alliance of opposition parties, has been slamming the Delhi chief minister for the sit-in at Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal's office.
"We came here to show our support to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. We demand that the Prime Minister interferes and takes necessary steps to solve the problem," Kumaraswamy said.
The chief ministers went to Kejriwal's home after they were "denied" permission by Baijal to meet Kejriwal at the Raj Niwas. As they arrived, AAP workers raised slogans against Baijal.
"I wanted to meet the Delhi chief minister but I was told, verbally, that permission will not be granted. Then four of us wrote to the LG for an appointment, but we were told that he is not there. We were not allowed," Banerjee said.
Earlier, the four leaders met at Andhra Bhawan.
Banerjee, Naidu, Vijayan and Kumaraswamy are in Delhi to attend a meeting of the Niti Aayog tomorrow.
The CMs met Kejriwal's wife and several other AAP leaders at the Delhi chief minister's home.
"We were not even given six minutes to meet him. We want this problem to be solved. This has become a constitutional crisis. Ultimately, if this problem is not solved then people will face issues, Banerjee said.
If this is happening in the capital then what will happen in other states? We will meet the prime minister tomorrow and request him to intervene and solve the problem," Banerjee said.
The bureaucrats in Delhi are not meeting Delhi ministers as part of their protest against an alleged assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash in February. They are demanding an apology from Kejriwal for the incident.
The press conference in support of Kejriwal by the four major regional players came a day after the Congress fielded former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken to attack Kejriwal for his protest, reflecting a clear divide in the opposition on the issue.
In Karnataka, Kumaraswamy, who has come out in support of Kejriwal, heads a coalition government with the Congress.