Kejriwal runs Delhi from streets


BBC Online :
Delhi’s chief minister has vowed to step up his virtually unprecedented street protest amid a row over who controls the city’s police force.
Arvind Kejriwal and members of his cabinet spent the night in the open in the heart of the capital and are now conducting daily business on the road.
Police clashed with protesters who gathered to join on Tuesday.
His anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party caused a shock with its strong performance in recent state elections.
Correspondents say his actions have divided the public with some hailing this as a new form of democracy and public protest but others urging him to get off the streets in order to govern as he was elected to do.
Skirmishes have been reported as hundreds of policemen cordoned off the site of his demonstration and positioned water cannons on the road.
Traffic has been thrown into chaos and at least four metro stations have been shut down.
“Since yesterday no food or water has been allowed to enter the protest site. What message the central government wants to convey? Many people want to come but they are stopped through barricades,” Kejriwal told reporters.
All the roads leading to the site of Arvind Kejriwal’s protest are barricaded with hundreds of policemen keeping protesters at bay.
The supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party are distinctive in their white caps. Beyond the barricades, ringed by policemen, the Delhi chief minister and his cabinet are sitting in protest, just by the parliament and federal government buildings.
Shielded from the cold and rain by supporters, he takes time to speak to the media, sign government files and preside over a cabinet meeting. Security is extra-tight because India’s annual Republic Day parade is just days away.
The anniversary showcases India’s military might – even now soldiers in ceremonial uniforms are going through their paces just a short distance away.
Tension is rising because the streets around the venue have to be cleared for security reasons ahead of the parade. At the moment, though, they are full of protesters who show no sign of leaving.
“Police [are] carrying people selectively in to the bus and beating them up. Is this called democracy?”
Nevertheless, Kejriwal and his cabinet ministers are continuing to conduct daily administrative business on the streets. Kejriwal took the helm as Delhi’s chief minister last month on a ticket to fight corruption and conduct politics differently, calling his party a “new broom”.
But he quickly became embroiled in a row over policing after one of his ministers accused officers of failing to crack down on an alleged drugs and prostitution ring – the police deny these claims.
Delhi’s police force is run by the federal government and the impromptu protest began on Monday when Kejriwal was prevented from going to the home minister’s office to demand the suspension of several officers.
It started with an incident which threatened to become a diplomatic issue, pitching the Aam Aadmi Party, the police and members of Delhi’s African community at loggerheads.