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Kejriwal calls off dharna after 9 days

Delhi bureaucrats have been at loggerheads with the AAP dispensation following the alleged assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash

After officers attended meetings called by ministers on Tuesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal ended his sit-in at Raj Niwas, nine days after he began the protest seeking an end to the bureaucrats’ “strike” and approval for the Aam Aadmi Party government’s proposal for home delivery of ration.

Mr. Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Ministers Gopal Rai and Satyendar Jain had started a dharna at a visitors’ room in Raj Niwas on June 11 after a meeting with Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal. After Mr. Sisodia and Mr. Jain, who had been on indefinite strike, were admitted to hospital on Monday and Sunday respectively, Mr. Kejriwal and Mr. Rai had remained on dharna till Tuesday evening.

Returning home after nine days, Mr. Kejriwal in his address to gathered party leaders and workers said Tuesday’s development was a “small victory” and that the party would now launch a campaign for full statehood for Delhi.

“With one phone call from the L-G, the officers attended the meetings,” he said, adding that the officers had been threatened by Raj Niwas not to attend meetings called by ministers.

Addressing a press conference at his residence after being discharged from hospital, Mr. Sisodia said meetings of the Transport, Revenue, Food and Civil Supplies, Administrative Reforms and Information Technology departments called by the respective ministers were attended by IAS officers. Since the alleged attack on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash by AAP MLAs at the Chief Minister’s residence in February, Delhi government officers had restricted their communication with the political executive to written form and attending statutory meetings.

“Six officers, including the Chief Secretary, attended meetings called by ministers. This shows that officers are returning to work,” Mr. Sisodia said, adding that officers had told him that they had been given the go-ahead “from the top”, referring to the L-G and the Centre, to start attending meetings.

On the issue of the ration delivery proposal, Mr. Sisodia said the leaders had decided that by staying on dharna, the issue would not be resolved. “We will have to take the fight to the streets,” he said.

Meanwhile, the L-G did not budge from his previously stated stance of not involving himself in the matter. Mr. Sisodia had on Monday asked the L-G to call a meeting of the officers and political executive. On Tuesday, Mr. Baijal said he had requested Mr. Kejriwal to “urgently meet the officers in the Secretariat.”

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