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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2339

Kejriwal’s Raj Nivas Dharna A Farce .

By Tukojir R. Pandit - Syndicate Features

Arvind Kejriwal may be wrong in imagining that his dharna with three other ministerial colleagues in the office of the Lieutenant Governor wins him sympathy and support from the people of Delhi. In a Tweet he has told the people of Delhi that he is taking the step to serve them!

While the Lieutenant Governor, Anil Baijal, need not be treated as a sacred figure or no fault can be found in his conduct, the point is that as an ‘elected’ leader, Kejriwal has to shoulder much more burden than the un-elected L.G. What the AAP supremo is unable to see is that during the three or four years he has been the chief minister of city-state that is also the national capital, most people have come to see him as a perpetual agitator, not as an administrator; he has entrusted all portfolios to his ministers to keep himself free for political work across the country.

Kejriwal government can perhaps take credit for some good work in the field of public health and education but probably the picture that stays in the minds of people is one of his constant run-ins with the L.G. and the Centre. From the time of his first brief spell as chief minister of less than two months as well as his subsequent thundering victory in 2015 he has been in the news mainly for agitating against the Lieutenant Governor: first Najeeb Jung and now Anil Baijal. His fixation with Prime Minister Modi, of course, has no parallels.

The Delhites are almost certain not to reward this Aam Admi the way they did in 2015 whenever the ballot takes place for the next state assembly. There is absolutely no chance of his getting 67 out of 70 assembly seats. Of course, that is not saying much because in a democracy parties win by thumping majority in one election and then fare poorly in the very next one.

It looks odd that at a time when Aam Admi Party, primarily a creation of Kejriwal, is aiming to spread its wings to other states it has shown little concern for its plummeting popularity in its home turf. If he has failed to impress the Delhites with his theatrics how can he hope to win over voters in other states?

The reason for Kejriwal’s protests may be serious and worthy of consideration—why should an elected government (Delhi) not have all the powers? Why powers relating to law and order and land vest with the L.G.? But ordinary people are unlikely to participate in debates on such a serious issue when their major preoccupation is grappling with problems they face in their daily lives?

Kejriwal is not the first chief minister of Delhi when the Centre is ruled by a different party. It is a fact that Kejriwal’s relations with the BJP have soured a great deal from the heydays of India Against Corruption (IAC) under the tutelage of Anna Hazare which enjoyed full backing of the Sangh Parivar. But consider the fact that Sheila Dixit, as Congress chief minister had to work for some years under a Centre ruled by a BJP-led government. Surely, there were many occasions when the Delhi government and the Centre disagreed sharply. But never was there this spectacle of chief minister and his colleagues sprawling themselves on the waiting room of the L.G.

The Aam Admi Party has had problems with two successive Lieutenant Governors Najeeb Jung and Anil Baijal. Whatever one may say about these two gentlemen they cannot match another Lieutenant Governor, Kiran Bedi of Puducherry, in being ‘unconventional’. (Ironically, Najeeb Jung had dabbled in actual theatrical activity!) The Puducherry L.G., an India Against Corruption alumni and a former IPS officer who had joined the BJP, being known as something of a maverick, there was a lot of theatrics on display in that small Union Territory whenever differences between the chief minister, V. Narayansamy and the L.G. surfaced before the public.

Ms Bedi had assumed the role of virtually the chief executive of Puducherry with the Congress chief minister feeling deprived of his constitutional powers. For a while there were frequent reports of differences between the two being aired in public with a lot of sound and fury. But not anymore; it is rather quiet. Surely, it cannot be said that the LG and the CM are now on the same page.

It may be that the Puducherry chief minister feels more empowered than his Delhi counterpart and, hence, there are fewer occasions for him feel belittled by the L.G. or stage dharnas or some such act. But then it is also a fact that the war that Kejriwal has launched against the L.G. (or the Centre) is not only about his powers, but it is also about his gripe that decisions taken by him or his government are ignored by the bureaucrats, allegedly on instructions from the L.G. whom he likes to call the ‘agent’ of the BJP government at the Centre.

Only the ‘insiders’ can tell the truth about this allegation. But if the allegations against bureaucrats—of being on ‘strike’ actually—are true then the administration in Delhi would not have functioned at all. To an outsider it will appear that even if there is some truth in the allegation, it is a matter that can be sorted out without recourse to a dharna or something similar.

The AAP government has claimed that it has done very well since it assumed power in 2015. If it is true, the ruling party in Delhi can take credit for it but it also stands to reason that the claim would not have been possible with a non-cooperative bureaucracy. It may be added in passing that as far as the ordinary people are concerned they want their problems solved; they are not interested in knowing about the nuances of division of power in a non-conventional state like Delhi.

While dirty linen continues to be washed in Delhi the truth is that there are a host of problems that need urgent solution and unfailing attention of those who rule the metropolis. One problem that cannot wait to be solved till the differences between the Delhi government and the L.G. have been sorted out is the uncontrolled pollution—of air and water. For some others it may be the law and order problem, especially the safety of women, or public transport or that summer perennial—water and electricity shortage. The list will be long, but any effort to prepare it will be pointless if those whose job it is to solve problems are constantly fighting with each other.

- Asian Tribune -

Arvind Kejriwal  dharna with three other ministerial colleagues in the office of the Lieutenant Governor
diconary view
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