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Over 40 AAP Lawmakers At Lieutenant Governor's House In New Confrontation

Arvind Kejriwal has requested Anil Baijal to “sort out all objections across the table.”

New Delhi:  Another big confrontation is building as more than 40 Aam Aadmi Party legislators camped on Wednesday at Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal’s house, refusing to leave till he signs off on files including one that okays the construction of Mohalla Clinics, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s pet healthcare project for Delhi.

“There should be no politics with Mohalla Clinics. It involves the health of 2 crore Delhiites. LG must clear the file immediately,” tweeted the Chief Minister, adding, “The public is suffering due to delays. The LG should call all officers and sort it out. I am prepared to come wid my ministers 2 Raj niwas, if LG wants.”

He has requested Mr Baijal to “sort out all objections across the table rather than files moving up n down.”

Confirming that 40 legislators are still inside Delhi’s Raj Bhawan where the LG’ lives, his office said Mr Baijal has spoken to the Chief Minister on the issue. “But the Delhi CM did not come to the LG’s house and skipped the weekly meeting,” it said.  

The Lieutenant Governor, confirmed last year by the High Court as the administrative head of Delhi, has to sign-off on key policy decisions taken by the Delhi government. The court’s verdict was a blow to Arvind Kejriwal, who has had regular run-ins with the centre, which the LG represents in Delhi, over control. The Chief Minister had big clashes with Mr Baijal’s predecessor Najeeb Jung, who quit in December last year.      

In angry tweets from the L-G’s office today, Mr Kejriwal’s MLAs alleged that Mr Baijal had the briefest of interactions with them to say that the Mohalla Clinic file is not with him. “He spent 3.23 min with 45 MLAs and rushed inside refusing to call officers and alleging that files are with the CM,” tweeted AAP’s Somnath Bharti.

In photos that legislators tweeted, they are sitting in a conference room at the Raj Bhawan, waiting to meet Mr Baijal.

AAP says the file, sent to the LG in May this year for approval, is back with him after a circuitous and slow run that saw it land with the vigilance department after Congress leader Ajay Maken complained against the Mohala clinic plan.

The ruling party also alleges that Mr Baijal had ordered officers not to show the file to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s vigilance minister, when he asked them to expedite approval. At each point they say, officials delayed action on what is an urgent need for Delhi’s healthcare.

The MLAs have carried with them a letter from Delhi health minister Satyendra Jain that says, “Some random instances cannot be the reason for stalling establishment of all Mohalla Clinics in Delhi. It is like throwing baby with the water. Kindly do not scuttle the entire Mohalla Clinic project due to some motivated complaints by our political opponents like Ajay Maken and Vijendra Gupta.” Vijendra Gupta is the BJP’s leader in the Delhi assembly.

When Chief Minister Kejriwal met the LG last week and asked him to clear the file, Mr Baijal had reportedly told him that he still had a few queries that needed to be answered and so would return the file. There has been no movement on it thereafter, AAP legislators said.

In March 2016, Mr Kejriwal had announced that 1,000 Mohalla or neighbourhood Clinics would be set up in Delhi by March 2017. So far, only 107 have been completed.

The LG “had approved the plan for Mohalla clinic but received a series of complaints between October to December 2016,” his office said today.