Mr. Kejriwal must be thanked for keeping alive the practice of informed political mobilisation in circumstances in which every two-bit greenhorn of a television anchor rattles off contempt for politics and democratic processes of legitimation and accountability.
How many times have we heard from all and sundry, including the courts, that the real administrative head of the truncated State of the National Capital is not the elected government but the appointed Lieutenant Governor?
Well then, where is he, as governance in Delhi comes to a dead halt?
Such is the anti-democratic hubris of the merely appointed functionary that he will not step out of his well-furnished comfort zone to accost the elected chief minister and some of his cabinet colleagues who have been in a sit-in protest in his outer office for days, demanding that he exercise his constitutional powers to bring the lordly bureaucracy back to work in line with their service rules and obligations.
An atmosphere has been created over the last few years which requires that only one elected man in the country must be obeyed, and all others made subordinate to rule by bureaucratic fiat. At a time when a crony idea is afloat that even the duly selected higher bureaucrats must yield place to lateral entrants—an idea that these duly selected bureaucrats are now opposing, even as they dub the Delhi Chief Minister as a perpetually protesting man—the Republic confronts a systemic danger that everyone had best wake up to, namely, the ongoing project to relegate politics at all levels and institute governance by diktat and, collaterally, by vigilante main force.
In this context, Mr. Kejriwal must be thanked for keeping alive the practice of informed political mobilisation in circumstances in which every two-bit greenhorn of a television anchor rattles off contempt for politics and democratic processes of legitimation and accountability.
The support that the elected Head of the Delhi government has drawn from a slew of other elected chief ministers and political parties is not just incidental; it is clearly a sign that these elected functionaries realize only too well the nature of the historical moment—one in which the reinstatement of mass-based and mass-endorsed political activity must be restored to is primacy if Indian democracy is not to dwindle finally into mere proforma elections every five years. It is heartening that even an ex-bureaucrat, now member of a political party in alliance with the NDA has seen fit to openly reprimand the pampered and protected bureaucratic lot who have now brought Delhi governance to its knees.
Clearly, the Indian National Congress does not see the matter yet quite in this light. The question it needs to ask itself is the following: will its prospects of returning to power in Delhi, come the next Assembly elections, be diminished or enhanced by the record it is now setting itself—of having remained in self-regarding isolation while a plethora of opposition parties are battling the coercive moment, I dare say, that even when looked at from this narrow perspective, the people of Delhi are far less likely to reward the Congress for its current stand—one that aligns it, like it or not, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party—and more likely to stand by the Aam Aadmi Party for having given a principled fight to forces that seem inimical to a number of welfare schemes that the current elected government wishes to implement in full. One would, of course, hope that the Congress will bring itself to see the larger issue involved in the current imbroglio and teach itself to subordinate its contempt for the Kejriwal brand of politics to a more democratic vision.
The Capital crisis is no small or localised matter; it involves considerations that, one way or another, will not but prove deeply consequential in the years to come.
The news comes that the Chief Minister has lifted his dharna from the Lieutenant Governor’s outer room, but no meeting between the two has taken place. Consequently, no material dent has been made in the prevailing governmental crisis and the structural issues underlying it.