Capital Grapevine
Sunday Magazine

Capital Grapevine

Virendra Kapoor

No winners in apex court verdict on status of Delhi Govt., LG, Centre

Regardless, the fight will go on as no one is ready to bury the hatchet

A social media cartoon soon after the Supreme Court verdict reiterating the old and long-settled constitutional status of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi vis a vis the Lt. Governor and the Centre depicted a venerable judge whispering into the ears of his brother judge, “ If we had not given this order, Kejriwal would have sat on dharna inside the court.” Well, since he has chosen to gloat over an order which in effect has even-handedly read the law to all parties concerned, the apex court judges need not fear the forcible occupation of their august chambers.

Yet, It came as no surprise that even before the ink was dry on the SC verdict, fresh hostilities have broken out between the Delhi Government and the LG. The confusion and conflict might appear to be over the control of services, but the truth is that neither side is ready to bury the hatchet and get on with the task of governance. Never mind the constitutional morality the apex court prescribed for all sides to work in harmony.

If you were to apportion blame for the unending dog-fight, without doubt you will hold Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal singularly responsible. His innate inability to get along with anyone is a major cause for the turmoil in his own party, with several founding members having been contemptuously shown the door. Others who still linger do so in the hope of getting some crumbs from his table. Let us be clear. He is a megalomaniac, suffers from a God-complex, believing that only he knows best, unwilling to tolerate anyone who does not play second fiddle.

Congress Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had got along famously with a non-Congress government at the Centre and its nominee, the Delhi LG. Earlier, Delhi Chief Minister Madan Lal Khurana of the BJP had had no problem working with a Congress-led government at the Centre. Probably the most apt comment came from Dikshit. She was clear that the SC had merely reiterated what was already known, that is, Delhi is not a full-fledged State and the chief minister does not enjoy absolute powers like CMs of regular States.

She made a vital point. Which is that unless you work in harmony with other authorities, including the Delhi bureaucracy, regardless of your powers, confusion and conflict will persist. But instead of taking the SC verdict in the right spirit, the AAP reacted as if it had won a war, slaying its enemies. This was not the reaction of someone who was keen to work in harmony with other constitutional authorities. A show of triumphalism with the AAP leaders ranting against the LG and the Prime Minister hardly presaged a new beginning.

And if there was any hope that Kejriwal would change his style of working and seek the cooperation of the LG in a forgive-and-forget spirit, it was dashed. Within hours of the SC verdict he unilaterally ordered transfers and postings of officers. Given that the old central circular of early 2015 was still valid, to assume that the SC verdict had made it null and void was presumptuous and even arrogant.

Of course, you could blame the Centre and the LG for not accommodating the arbitrariness of Kejriwal. The Modi Government has not cooperated with the AAP Government. But it has a point when it argues that if it can get along without much trouble with the Trinamool government in West Bengal, the CPI(M) government in Kerala, the Congress government in Puducherry, all parties openly hostile towards the PM, the fault must lie with Kejriwal if he is constantly fighting. It is a valid argument.

Of course, Kejriwal draws satisfaction from a section of the media, particularly those in the English papers, whose vicious anti-Modiism obliges it to gloss over the egregious conduct of the AAP Supremo. If the argument is that Kejriwal is a popularly elected chief minister, Modi is not an unelected prime minister who can be called a `psychopath’ by the darling of the editorial-writers in the English press.

The point is, it takes two hands to clap. If Kejriwal wants to behave like the absolute monarch of Delhi, further confrontation is inevitable. Probably this is precisely what he wants so that he can seek votes next time blaming Modi for not letting him work. And appeal to them to make him prime minister so that he can transform India overnight into El Dorado. Let us stop deluding ourselves. Kejriwal is no different. He too is as power-hungry as they come. Be warned.

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In grip of a self-destructive hatred

Rahul Gandhi has come a long way from the time when he had the AICC adopt a resolution about the Congress going solo ~Akela Chalo~. So sure was he of his prowess to make the family-owned party once again a fighting, fit force. That was more than a decade ago. Many rebuffs and rejections later, he is a much chastened man. Now he has taken a full 180-degree turn, keen to get into bed with anyone willing to take on Modi.

After playing second fiddle to Deve Gowda’s party, which won half the seats his own party did in the recent Karnataka Assembly poll, he is going out to woo the likes of the Congress defector Ajit Jogi in Chhattisgarh and overtly communal Badruddin Ajmal in Assam. How desperate is this strategy was clear when in order to rope in the Kerala Congress (Mani), a fringe group with some influence in Christian pockets, he surrendered the lone Rajya Sabha seat the party could have retained in the biennial poll.

Indeed, so pitiable is the condition of the Congress President that recently when the Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav was in town, an aide of Rahul Gandhi pleaded with him to go and meet his boss. But Akhilesh declined. After having burnt his fingers in the last Assembly election in UP, where Akhilesh and Rahul featured together as alliance partners and came a cropper, the SP boss is determined to keep safe distance from the Congress chief. Akhilesh has no use for Rahul when he has gone out and wooed ~Bua~ Mayawati to team up with him, at her terms, of course, for the coming 2019 parliamentary poll.

Rahul’s present frame of mind is better reflected by a Hindi proverb: ~Apni Hasti ko mita doonga, Modi ko haraney key liye.~ The danger in this desperate strategy is that whether on not Modi is defeated, whatever remains of the Congress might be destroyed.

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Behaving like Latt Sahebs of yore

Odisha Chief Secretary apologized to Governor Ganeshi Lal for seeking an explanation for the latter spending Rs. 46 lakhs on chartering a plane to come to Delhi and then chartering a helicopter to go to his home town, Sirsa, in Haryana. Where was Lal’s own lack of propriety and proportion? For the Governor to cause to incur such a huge expenditure, particularly in a poor state like Odisha, reveals his unconcern for the public weal. Instead of apologizing to the Governor, Chief Secretary A P Padhi needs to be commended. Lal ought to be made to cough up the amount from his own pocket. Whatever the reason for his chartering the plane, it cannot be so urgent as to justify the huge expenditure.