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Has Arvind Kejriwal gone too far this time?

January 21, 2014 00:23 IST

Is the Delhi chief minister trying to force the Congress to withdraw support to his government, asks Renu Mittal.

With the Republic Day parade just five days away, and Arvind Kejriwal and company sitting on a dharna next to Rajpath, the situation has become tricky for the Centre.

The Delhi chief minister has threatened a 10-day dharna if his demands against the Delhi police are not met.

Kejriwal, who appears more activist and less chief ministerial in approach and demeanour, has refused to shift the venue of his dharna to Jantar Mantar as suggested by the police, and instead insisted he will spend the night outside Rail Bhavan.

In picking up an unprecedented face-off with the Centre, is Kejriwal trying to force the Congress to withdraw support to his government because he is unable to deliver on his promises and feels that his support base may be eroded if he continues to run a government which he cannot handle?

Many Congress leaders have once again asked the party leadership to withdraw support to the Aam Aadmi Party, which rules Delhi with Congress support. There is no harsh public criticism or condemnation from the Congress yet against the chief minister who says he will run the government from the streets of Delhi.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde says the chief minister must have patience and wait for the report of the judicial probe instituted by Lieutenant Governor Najib Jung. Kejriwal says he does not believe in it, because it is a 'waste of time'.

Sources say negotiations are on between the home ministry and Kejriwal to end the dharna.

One offer made to the chief minister is that the three police officers at the heart of the controversy will be transferred, though Kejriwal has demanded their suspension.

If he does not agree, the police is likely to forcibly shift his troupe to Jantar Mantar as all roads in the area have been sealed off and traffic has become a nightmare for most office goers in the area.

The activist chief minister, who has claimed that he is an anarchist, seems to be out of his depth when it comes to governance and appears to be in a hurry to score brownie points on populist issues.

He has picked up a major confrontation with the police, but sources say it is a deliberate ploy to be seen to be fighting for people's issues, particularly when it comes to the safety of women and security of neighbourhoods.

Image: Delhi Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, centre, on dharna. Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters

Renu Mittal in New Delhi