While Delhi chief minister is playing the game like an ace politician, the Centre is allowing L-G Najeeb Jung to jostle with him like a typical babu.
POLITICS | 4-minute read | 23-07-2015
Nilanjan MukhopadhyayNILANJAN MUKHOPADHYAY @nilanjanudwin
In a television debate in 2014 in the middle of Lok Sabha elections, I referred to Arvind Kejriwal as chota Modi. Earlier this week I was speaking to a former aide of the Delhi chief minister. He was part of the delegation of Muslim leaders who met the prime minister in early June. Naturally, I queried about the nature of deliberations. "You call Arvind as chota Modi, I call the prime minister as bara Kejriwal, " he said wryly.
In this observation lies a commonality between the two and because of this, the Centre is making a mistake in its dealing with Delhi government. The problem that leaders like Modi and Kejriwal face is that down the line in their political command structure, everyone wishes to act like the big boss while dealing with people lower in the rung. But then, it is the responsibility of the boss to ensure that his juniors do not mess up his larger game for petty gains.
Since late May, the Centre has allowed Delhi lieutenant-governor, Najeeb Jung to lock horns with Kejriwal entangling him in needless ego clashes which has only enabled the latter to score important points in this bout. Initially, there was a wrangle between the two on the issue of Anti-Corruption Bureau. This was followed by the fracas over the charges against former Delhi law minister Jitendra Singh Tomar when Delhi police rushed into pursuing the case against him while going soft on Smriti Irani.
After the horrifying incident in a west Delhi locality when a girl was stabbed multiple times, Kejriwal predictably mounted a campaign against Delhi Police. The chief minister's strategy is simple: raise demands that cannot be fulfilled under current laws. The powers of the Delhi government are not determined by the whims and fancies of the LG or the chief minister, but by the legislation that granted Delhi partial statehood in the early 1990s.
Kejriwal is raising this issue to build a political case and manifesto for the next elections in Delhi. In contrast, the Centre is allowing Jung to behave in typical "babu" style and in the process further disconnecting the BJP from the people of the capital. One does not have to do much to gauge the impact of the campaign but to just stand at the local kiosk while the radio plays out the audio advertisement of Kejriwal the actor.
If Modi thought that he would be the last one to modulate his voice for political impact, he has been sadly mistaken. Clearly, the Delhi chief minister is leaving no stone unturned to make maximum impact. After having gained by use of theatrics in politics, Modi now gets a bitter taste of his own medicine.
Earlier too, the Centre failed to control institutions over which it has some degree of control or influence. For instance the electricity regulator's decision to hike power tariff: however justified this may have been, was taken without taking the state government on board on the issue. This enabled Kejriwal to recast himself in the agitator mode. Like Modi, agitating is his forte.
The bureaucratic wrangling initiated by Jung over appointment of the Delhi Commission for Women chief, Swati Maliwal, is another issue where the Centre has not acted in time to ensure that the Delhi government's choice is allowed. After all, every previous government appoints party favourites to such positions and denying AAP this privilege enables Kejriwal to tell supporters that the Centre is not clearing a single decision of his and not allowing him to function.
Kejriwal, like Modi, is a smart operator and knows how to keep his businesses running. He thrives on enacting the role of the underdog, the David out to defeat Goliath. The "bechara" image is something that Kejriwal loves and capitalises on. The peculiarity is that while Jung, not being a politician, can be expected to act stubbornly, Modi should realise this and needs to direct his people that the Delhi government should be given a long rope and enable it to make mistakes.
In another month, Kejriwal will complete six months in office and a review of this period will suggest that while he has focussed on big slogans to garner brownie points, he has quietly gone about providing a stable government. In contrast, the Centre, through the LG has conveyed the impression that it still grudges Kejriwal his victory and that the BJP is yet to recover from the trauma of the washout in February. Such strategy enables Kejriwal to dictate terms and he will not lose any opportunity to further "tease" the LG. The problem is that while Kejriwal is playing the game like an ace politician, the Centre is allowing Jung to jostle with him like a typical babu. Jung and Modi must remember that while Kejriwal is the "elected" leader, the LG is a "selected" official. In a democracy, the people will always believe the former and consider the latter as disruptor.
#AAP, #Najeeb Jung, #Narendra Modi, #Arvind Kejriwal more