7 July 2018 : Friends, imagine what Arvind Kejriwal and his team have to undergo. Extreme humiliation.
Now the LG ably supported by the PM Narendra Modi will not give up services, despite the Supreme Court Orders giving Delhi govt powers to rule Delhi (except three that remains with the centre: Land, Public Order and Police).
The Centre indeed is making a mockery of democracy.
ON JULY 4TH the Indian Supreme Court issued a sharp rebuke to the central government. It ruled that Delhi, the country’s capital, should be allowed to run its affairs without constant interference from the lieutenant-governor, an appointed official. The judgment ended three years of rising tension and growing paralysis during which Narendra Modi’s government and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have wielded a panoply of instruments, from police to courts to the governor’s office, to thwart the city’s elected leaders. Despite its court victory, the Aam Aadmi Party, which has been in charge of the city since 2015, wants further concessions. Why does it insist that Delhi should enjoy not just limited self-rule but the same federal status as India’s 29 states?
The trouble with Delhi’s city politics can be traced back to soon after India’s independence, in 1947. As an administrative centre drawing bureaucrats from across India, and as the sensitive nucleus of government, it was thought wise to give the city special status as a National Capital Territory—not unlike Washington, DC, or Brasília. What evolved was a hybrid arrangement. It would have an elected assembly and a chief minister, to give its people a voice. But to preserve the central government’s prerogatives, as well as security, the city itself would not control its own land, police or public order. An appointed lieutenant-governor would in theory not interfere with day-to-day affairs, but would see that the city government respected Delhi’s primary duty as a seat of national government. It was an uncomfortable arrangement with built-in tensions, but despite Delhi’s growth, from just 1.3m people in 1950 to some 20m today (26.5m if you count surrounding suburbs), things worked pretty well most of the time. It helped that quite often a single party held power both at the “centre” and in Delhi.
But in 2015 the Aam Aadmi Party, an anti-corruption upstart, won an unprecedented 67 of 70 seats in the Delhi assembly. The BJP, meanwhile, had won a resounding victory in national elections. Both parties were aggressive and ambitious. Aam Aadmi sought to widen its appeal on the national stage, while the far more powerful BJP aimed to stifle its puny rival at birth. By varied means, such as by asserting the lieutenant-governor’s power to hire, fire and transfer Delhi’s own administrative workers, it tried to make Aam Aadmi’s leaders look unfit to run the city. The resulting clashes left neither party looking good, but it was the city’s habitants who suffered most from stalled government programmes and a failure to address such chronic problems as severe air pollution. Their exasperation reached a peak in June, when rival sit-ins picketed the governor and the chief minister while the city’s top, centrally appointed civil servants mounted a boycott of Aam Aadmi directives.
The Supreme Court ruling is a moral victory for Aam Aadmi, but the BJP is already pushing back. Civil servants loyal to the “centre” still insist they need not take orders from the city government, and police and other key institutions can be expected to follow suit. With further tests of wills likely, Aam Aadmi has vowed to carry its pitch for statehood to the public, and mount a sustained pressure campaign. After all, it argues, India’s map has changed frequently since independence, with popular movements forcing the creation of numerous new states, carved from the original set. Given its population and special needs, Delhi certainly deserves a more fully empowered local government. Its people, however, are far more diverse in origin than those of any existing state. They may not easily unite behind the call for statehood.