Delhi, AAP Govt Can’t Give You Any Administrative Stability 

Ever since they elected Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s voters have been witnessing cheap dramatics, writes Pawan Khera.

5 min read
Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash has alleged that AAP MLAs attacked him inside Arvind Kejriwal’s residence on 19 February.

Reprehensible. Condemnable. Shocking. Unbelievable.

All these and many more words have been used to describe the incident involving the enthusiastic MLAs of AAP and the chief secretary of Delhi. And yet, none of these words are enough to describe the total lawlessness that was witnessed in the arrogant, ignorant and anarchic corridors of power in what is called the Government of National Capital, Delhi.

AAP – A Case of De-ideologised Politics

Riding on mythical figures of notional losses floated by the (now Padma Awardee) Vinod Rai, many careers were marred and made. AAP is a party born out of such ghastly sensationalism. Those belonging to national parties with stated ideological positions got into power and got down to putting some aspects of their ideology in place. Others who lost at the hustings dusted their clothes and are rearing to fight the next rounds of battle. Then there is AAP. This is more or less a first experiment in de-ideologised politics. Theirs is the politics of transaction – You give me votes, I will give you free water and power.

Populism always existed in varying forms and degrees across our political spectrum. There's still a facade of ideology and a smokescreen of vision that makes it bearable to those watching the 'best democracy money can buy'.

The good thing about AAP is that it does not pretend to have an ideology nor does one see any vision in their actions and reactions as a government. What have you planned for the city which depends on its neighbours for smooth water and power supply? How does the city govt plan to handle one million workforce that enters the city every morning and leaves in the evening? Or the half a million people who migrate to Delhi every year?

Kejriwal Versus Officers

Multiplicity of authority is not a new found aspect of governance in Delhi. It existed even before the 69th Amendment Act of 1991. Before shifting base from Kaushambi, Arvind Kejriwal knew what he was getting into. The consistency with which this government keeps finding problems for every solution by blaming different agencies is almost akin to Narendra Modi choosing Nehru as an excuse for his own non-performance.

The saga of the 'midnight special' shall haunt governance of the city for a long time to come.

Only in an emergency would the chief minister of a state summon the chief secretary so late in the night. And if the agenda was to discuss public distribution system, as is being claimed by AAP, why were the Minister and Principal Secretary of the relevant department not present at the meeting?

We have been hearing whispers in the media about a standoff between officers and Arvind on a particular advertisement marking three years of AAP government.

Elected governments need to focus on publicising their achievements through their publicity wing. The Kejriwal government has been very particular about the publicity department. In its first year in 2015, the budgetary allocation for publicity went up from ₹24 crores to ₹526.19 crores. In an RTI filed by Advocate Aman Panwar of the Congress, it was found that in 2016, AAP govt spent ₹16 Lakh per day on publicity.

Supreme Court guidelines on government advertisements also mention content regulation. Thus, for Arvind Kejriwal to claim that corruption is low by 80%, without attributing a credible source for the claim, will be a violation of the guidelines. Officers, in whose name the clearance for the advertisement will finally be signed, will naturally tend to be cautious while approving such content.

The Weighing Scale of Truth

When the chief secretary of a state files a police complaint against MLAs with a known record of aggressive political conduct, whose version should we believe?

When the advisor to the chief minister, a retired bureaucrat handpicked by the CM and not forced on him by the LG or by the Opposition, gives a statement under section 161 and 164 of CrPc, testifying that he did indeed see two MLAs assaulting the chief secretary, why should we not believe it?

When there are several complaints of physical assault filed against several MLAs of AAP, why should we take the party's version as the gospel as against that of the chief secretary, who is a highly respected bureaucrat?

Sheila Dikshit saw eight chief secretaries in her 15 years as chief minister of Delhi. Five of these eight retired as chief secretaries. One sought transfer on health grounds, one went to Government of India and the last stayed on as CS when she lost elections in 2013. Compare this with the five chief secretaries the AAP government has had in their three years of office, and you know Arvind Kejriwal’s style of governance.

Even though Sheila Dikshit opened the mighty doors of officers for RWAs through the Bhagidari scheme, she ensured to insulate them from the harshness of political onslaught. Grievances of MLAs were deftly handled by her well chosen team.

Voters elect a government with an expectation to deliver. Ever since they elected Arvind Kejriwal, voters of Delhi have been witnessing cheap dramatics and lame excuses. With this new round of uncivil acrimony between the elected government and civil servants, Delhi cannot expect any administrative stability in the near future. This is by far the most serious crisis GNCT of Delhi has faced ever since its inception in 1993.

PS: For Mao's sake, please do not call Arvind Kejriwal an urban naxalite. Howsoever opposed we are to it, Naxalites follow an ideology. And therein lies the difference.

(The writer is former political secretary to Sheila Dikshit, and is with the Congress party. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

(The Quint, in association with BitGiving, has launched a crowdfunding campaign for an 8-month-old who was raped in Delhi on 28 January 2018. The baby girl, who we will refer to as 'Chhutki', was allegedly raped by her 28-year-old cousin when her parents were away. She has been discharged from AIIMS hospital after undergoing three surgeries, but needs more medical treatment in order to heal completely. Her parents hail from a low-income group and have stopped going to work so that they can take care of the baby. You can help cover Chhutki's medical expenses and secure her future. Every little bit counts. Click here to donate.)

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