Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met with Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena for their regular Friday meeting today, having skipped the last four times after CBI raids on his deputy, Manish Sisodia. He later said the 40-minute meeting was “held in a cordial environment”.
They last met on August 12, but did not on August 19, the day the CBI raided Mr Sisodia’s house over an alleged scam in the liquor policy. The probe was ordered by Mr Saxena in July. The AAP says it’s all a ploy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government, via the Lieutenant Governor
The next Friday, August 26, the AAP leader was in Gujarat, PM Modi’s home state, for poll campaigning. And he was travelling again on September 2.
The meeting today had routine administrative matters to be discussed. Its agenda is not shared with the media, but Mr Kejriwal told reporters after it: “I requested L-G sir that together let’s fix the MCD a little so that Delhi is cleaner.” The MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) is controlled by the BJP.
Mr Saxena or his office did not issue any statement about the specifics of the meeting.
Mr Kejriwal, when asked about the recent rows, said, “Whatever happened is unfortunate and I hope the situation should improve.” On no meeting the past few Fridays, he said, “I was not in Delhi by chance. Today’s was a good meeting held in very good environment.”
A lot has happened between the AAP and Centre-appointed Lieutenant Governor since the CBI raids over the New Excise Policy. The policy, which brought private players into the liquor trade, was in force for eight months before it was withdrawn in July, after the Lieutenant Governor ordered a CBI probe.
The AAP — besides seeing “a ploy by PM Modi and BJP” — hit back at VK Saxena directly, too, with scam allegations over his seven-year tenure as Khadi and Village Industries Commission just before he got the Delhi post.
Angry exchanges via press conferences, letters and tweets have since been almost a daily affair, punctuated by dramatic moments for camera.
When Mr Saxena sent a defamation notice to AAP leaders, one of them, Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh, tore it to shreds on video. The AAP government also held a special session to underline its majority in the Vidhan Sabha, where speeches were made claiming the scam allegations were to stop the AAP’s national expansion under Mr Kejriwal.
Mr Saxena has denied any wrongdoings in his Khadi Commission tenure, saying the AAP is giving wrong figures about a contract awarded to his daughter for designing a Khadi Lounge in Mumbai.
A larger question at the nub of this fight, meanwhile, is in the Supreme Court — as to who between the elected government and the L-G has more power.
A Constitution Bench last heard the matter on September 7. It happened to be the day AAP’s Sanjay Singh tore Mr Saxena’s notice.
The court set October 11 as the tentative next date of hearing.