Regardless, the fight will go on as no one 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 Lieutenant 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 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.
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.
Of course, the Narendra 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 CPM government in Kerala, the Congress government in Puducherry, all parties openly hostile towards the PM, the fault must lie with AAP if it is constantly fighting. It is a valid argument.
Of course, AAP 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. If the argument is that Kejriwal is a popularly elected Chief Minister, Modi is not an unelected Prime Minister who can be called names.
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 Narendra Modi.
After playing second fiddle to H.D. Deve Gowda’s party, which won half the seats his own party did in the recent Karnataka Assembly elections, 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 Uttar Pradesh, 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 polls.
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 or not Modi is defeated, whatever remains of the Congress might be destroyed.
BEHAVING LIKE LATT SAHEBS OF YORE
The Odisha Chief Secretary apologised to Governor Ganeshi Lal for seeking an explanation for the latter spending Rs 46 lakh on chartering a plane to come to Delhi and then chartering a helicopter to go to his hometown, 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 apologising 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.