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Eye on shove, Arvind pushes

- CM’s picket vow spins theories

New Delhi, Jan. 19: Arvind Kejriwal tonight said he would squat outside the Union home minister’s office on Monday to demand the suspension of four police officers in what appears to be a tactic to force the UPA’s hand and test the waters for freeing himself up for the Lok Sabha polls.

“I, along with all ministers and MLAs, will sit on dharna outside the home minister’s office for the sake of women security,” the Delhi chief minister tweeted this evening.

He appealed to his party leaders and supporters not to take part in the dharna in view of the Republic Day. “In view of the Republic Day preparations, I urge supporters and the public not to come for the dharna. Only MLAs will sit. No one else should come pl (please),” he added.

The reference to “women security” is related to the alleged refusal of a police officer to follow a Delhi minister’s directive to register a complaint of dowry-driven torture of a homemaker. Kejriwal’s tweet did not mention the other controversy of another minister ordering the police to raid the home of African women accused of drug peddling and prostitution.

“We are determined. If the policemen are not suspended by 10am tomorrow, the chief minister and other ministers will sit on dharna outside North Block,” Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Sanjay Singh said.

AAP insiders said they would be more than happy if the Congress withdrew support and the government collapsed ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. AAP leaders said Kejriwal had decided to contest the Lok Sabha polls and it would work to his advantage if he were freed from the responsibility of governing Delhi.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley wondered in a statement whether the dharna was a ploy for “a way out of the government and get back to the streets”. “Is the planned dharna for one day a ploy to fracture its non-transparent arrangement with the Congress? Is the AAP looking for a way out of the government and get back to the streets?” Jaitley asked.

The AAP insiders said Kejriwal appeared to be prepared to push the Congress into withdrawing support from his government so that he could make an issue out of it and campaign in the Lok Sabha polls. In television interviews yesterday, Kejriwal had said he would proceed against alleged corruption of the previous Congress government.

Congress sources said although the party was upset with the “gimmicks”, it wanted to give a long rope to the AAP.

Delhi police said they had not received any notice about tomorrow’s protest. Police sources said if the chief minister and the others wanted to meet the home minister in North Block, they would not be stopped.

“If they sit on dharna, we will serve them a notice and persuade them to move out. But if they resist, we will have to act in line with the law,” a police officer said.

Prohibitory orders are in force around North Block, located beside the President’s house and Parliament. The law requires violators of prohibitory orders to be arrested and produced before a court.

AAP sources said Delhi police today tried to reach out to Kejriwal by referring to intelligence reports about a threat to his life. Kejriwal rebuffed a proposal for security and wondered whether the police were “playing politics”.


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