As the standoff between Arvind Kejriwal and Lt. Governor Anil Baijal in the national capital nears a week, four other chief ministers have extended their support to the Delhi CM, calling the situation a "constitutional crisis".
West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee, Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan, Karnataka's H.D. Kumaraswamy and Andhra Pradesh's N. Chandrababu Naidu - all belonging to parties that are rivals of the BJP - addressed a press conference yesterday, on June 16, ahead of today's NITI Ayog meeting where they said they would urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to solve the issue.
The chief ministers have further accused the Centre of "restricting the federal system" terming it a threat to the nation.
"This is a constitutional crisis. But there should never be such crisis due to which a government and the common people have to suffer," said Banerjee. "They (the Centre and the Lt Guv) are not allowing the government to function. They (the Kejriwal regime) say they are not able to work. What they will do. Their work has been obstructed and restricted," she said.
To show solidarity to Kejriwal, whose protest is for the IAS officers to end their non-cooperation with the Delhi government, the four chief ministers visited Kejriwal's residence, where they met his wife and other members of his family.
"We want the issue should be solved and there should not be any fight on this. The mandate of the people of Delhi should be respected," Banerjee said, adding that if such a "small problem" of Delhi cannot be solved, how will the bigger issues in the country be dealt with.
Mamta also went on to question the delay in resolving the matter between Baijal and Kejriwal, noting that the Lt. Governor has not met the Delhi CM once even though Kejriwal has been sitting right outside his office.
"We tried our best as per the Constitution to seek permission from the LG to meet Arvind and him. He (the Lt Gov) has not given us permission. If he has not given us permission, then don't consider us so small that we are like street beggars. Even we have due respect," Banerjee said.
The four chief ministers met shortly after Baijal declined permission to Banerjee to meet Kejriwal. She had planned to visit them at Raj Bhavan - Lt. Governor's residential office - where the protest is underway, along with Naidu.
Informed sources said the four Chief Ministers were planning a strategy on how to strengthen Kejriwal's hands.
Kejriwal, along with Delhi's deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and cabinet ministers Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai have been camping at the Raj Niwas since Monday, June 11, demanding action against the IAS officers on strike, and permission to begin doorstep delivery of ration. Sisodia and Gopal Rai and on hunger strike.
In response, the Delhi BJP unit has gone on a hunger strike, escalating tensions in the capital.