NEW DELHI — As Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues prepare to spend a third night at the Raj Niwas, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia launched an indefinite hunger strike June 13 and hundreds of Aam Aadmi Party leaders and workers hit the road marching towards the Lieutenant-Governor’s house.
Former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, who resigned from the BJP in April, was among those joining the march.
The AAP has planned a candle march at Rajpath for June 14 and warned of a protest at the prime minister's residence June 17 if their demands are not met.
For the last three days, Kejriwal, Sisodia, Jain and Rai have been camping at the Raj Niwas to press for their demands – direction to Indian Administrative Service officers working in the Delhi administration to end their "strike," action against officers who have struck work for "four months" and approval to his government's proposal for doorstep delivery of rations to the poor.
In a move to counter the sit-in protest organized by the chief minister, deputy chief minister and two cabinet ministers in the Delhi government – Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai – the Bharatiya Janata Party June 13 also launched a protest highlighting the issues of water and electricity shortages in the national capital.
Meanwhile, several regional parties extended their support to the AAP cause June 13, even as the BJP launched its counter-protest.
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Jha tweeted to mark their support. Jha also visited the chief minister's residence here to express solidarity with the AAP protest.
However, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken attacked Kejriwal over his protest calling him "No. 1 in holding dharnas."
Kejriwal said he and his colleagues would not leave LG Anil Baijal's office until their demands were met.
Jain has been on a hunger strike since June 12 morning, while Sisodia went on an indefinite fast June 13. Later in the day, Sisodia wrote to Baijal reiterating their demands.
Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel also wrote to Baijal over the IAS officers' "strike." He supported the demands of the chief minister and his cabinet colleagues.
AAP MP Sanjay Singh, who led the march to the LG house, wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking an appointment to brief him about the ongoing standoff between LG Baijal and the Delhi government.
Security has been beefed up outside the Raj Niwas, with paramilitary and police personnel deployed in a 2-km radius of the LG's office, since June 11 evening. More police personnel were deployed to the area in the wake of the march.
The LG June 13 met Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba. Details of the meeting were not available immediately.