It was important that Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi wasted no time in expressing his congratulations to the re-elected Chief Minister of the Union Territory of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal. With equal grace, Chief Minister Kejriwal reciprocated the good wishes and looked forward to a cooperative and friendly relationship between the UT government and the Central government. This is as it should be. Petty politicking should stop where public interest begins. Prime Minister Modi is the acknowledged leader of the government that is intended to serve each and every citizen of this country, and not just those who voted for the Bharatiya Janata Party. In the same way, Chief Minister Kejriwal needs to keep in mind the interests of every resident of the national capital of the Republic of India, and not merely those who support the Aam Aadmi Party. What needs to be avoided is a situation similar to that witnessed in the Union Territory of Puducherry. Despite having lost the 2016 Assembly elections in Delhi in a comprehensive and unprecedented fashion to Arvind Kejriwal, the BJP’s then choice for the Chief Ministership of Delhi, Kiran Bedi, was rewarded by the BJP with the exalted position of Lt Governor. The Lt Governor enjoys the perquisites of high office, including spectacular housing, abundant staff and the pomp and panoply that ought to have disappeared with the Union Jack in 1947, but which has lingered on in the Raj Bhavans and Raj Niwases of the land. It is embarrassing for those who believe in the equality of human beings to watch liveried courtiers stand behind Governors and Lt Governors, even while members of the armed services function in a manner that is richly satisfying to the ego and hugely expensive to the taxpayer. In Puducherry, Lt Governor Bedi seems to be labouring under the belief that she has secured the post she has, not because of a decision taken by the Union Home Ministry but because she has won in a presidential contest in that territory. She has been functioning the way an elected head of a union territory would, rather than accept the fact that the election verdict which brought into office the present UT government should be respected rather than sought to be set aside. History books will in future comment on the sojourn of Lt Governor Kiran Bedi in Puducherry, but it is expected that a similar disdain for the results of a free and fair poll will not be shown in evidence in Delhi. The Prime Minister’s sterling example gives hope that Puducherry will not get repeated in Delhi.
Given the complex structure of governance established by the Constitution of India, with its Union List, State List and Concurrent List, it is vital in the public interest that the government of the Union Territory of Delhi should work in close coordination with the Union Government. Several key functions of the state vest with the Union Government, and this makes such a conciliatory and collaborative stance essential. It is understandable that strong words were used during the campaign to describe the achievements or lack of them of the AAP and the BJP. Union Minister for Home Amit Shah has correctly condemned those who used the language of the gun during the campaign, for in a democracy, the ballot must always trump the bullet. While the Election Commission of India does not seem to have found anything significantly amiss in such utterances, voters seem to have adopted a less forgiving attitude than the EC. Had Home Minister Shah revealed his mind on irresponsible and incomprehensible utterances of some of his party stalwarts such as “goli maro” a few days before polling rather than after the declaration of results on 11 February, the tally of the BJP may have been more than double what the party secured. Now that voters in Delhi have shown that they prefer the return of Arvind Kejriwal and his party rather than exchange its rule with that of the BJP, it is expected that politicking will cease and the hard work of bringing better housing and education to even the poorest citizens of the national capital will begin in earnest. The friendly greetings exchanged between PM Modi and CM Kejriwal are a sign that Delhi may be in for better days. Among the benefits will hopefully be the unblocking of roads in the vicinity of Shaheen Bagh that has made commute a nightmare for so many citizens each day. An aspiring superpower needs to ensure that the roads of its national capital witness a free flow of traffic rather than blocks and blockades.