By Akhileshwari Anand Raj
Aam Aadmi Party legislators camped outside the Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal’s house on 30th August. The objective was to get his signature on files that allowed for the construction of Mohalla clinics. They spent over seven hours at Raj Bhawan. After this, different versions of the incident surfaced on Twitter. All this led to a heated battle of words between the Lieutenant Governor’s office and AAP MLAs.
Administrative deadlock and ensuing clashes
The Lieutenant Governor, as the administrative head of Delhi, is required to sign-off on key policy decisions taken by the Delhi government. This was upheld by the Delhi High Court last year. It came as an additional blow to Kejriwal, who has had several run-ins with the Centre. He also had several clashes with Baijal’s predecessor Najeeb Jung, who quit the office in December last year.
The reason for this incident dates back to March 2016, when Kejriwal announced that 1000 Mohalla or neighbourhood clinics would be set up in Delhi within a year. However, only 107 have been completed until now.
A back and forth of words
The gathering on Wednesday was described by the AAP as peaceful, with 48 out of its 66 legislators sitting at Raj Bhawan for over seven hours. The LG’s office, however, had a different description to provide. They said that 45 AAP MLAs stormed Raj Niwas and displayed conduct unbecoming of responsible elected representatives. They further held that the Delhi CM had been informed by the LG, but skipped the mandated weekly meeting with him.
The AAP was quick with its rebuttal. Kejriwal tweeted that the LG’s office had not invited him to a meeting, but he had in fact offered to visit the LG with his Ministers. The Delhi Deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia, who is also the Vigilance Minister of Delhi, quickly came to Kejriwal’s aid. He tweeted that the CM was ready to visit the LG at any time in the interest of Mohalla clinics. He also opined that this must be resolved immediately to prevent “another Gorakhpur-like tragedy.”
Conspiracy or red tape?
Explaining the reason behind the extreme step, AAP alleged that it sent the file to the LG’s office in May 2017 for approval. This file made a circuitous run. It ended up in the vigilance department after Congress leader Ajay Maken complained against the Mohalla clinic plan. However, it was further alleged that Baijal ordered officers not to show this file to the vigilance minister himself when he asked for approval to be expedited. Despite Delhi’s urgent need for health care, officials delayed action at every stage.
The AAP also said that they were given “the briefest of meetings” with the LG which did not last over three minutes. The LG’s office replied to this in the negative. They said that despite the LG explaining to the MLAs the current status of the proposal and its progress, their behaviour was rude and discourteous towards them.
Mohalla clinics: a popular policy
Amidst this scathing battle of words, the ground reality of Kejriwal’s promise is of importance. Out of the 1000 clinics, only 107 have been established and fewer are entirely operational. However, the satisfaction and trust factor of the patients with these functional clinics is high. Patients seem to prefer it over government hospitals. Despite the closing time of 1 pm, doctors work relentlessly to ensure those awaiting treatments are offered relief. This has helped make healthcare accessible to slums and rural areas, rather than several people plodding towards a remote government facility for the same.
Featured Image Source: VisualHunt
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