Delhi Belly: Target Kejriwal — Its Time To Dump This Charade

How can 16 million people be disenfranchised and denied a say (through their elected representatives) in how they are governed or taxed?

Now that the Delhi High Court has dealt a body blow to Arvind Kejriwal by anointing Mr. Jung as the new Viceroy of Delhi its perhaps time to figure out how long this dumb charade will continue. Of course, the High Court order was along expected lines, given the fact that the judiciary is perhaps one of the most conservative and status quoist institutions in the country (we just have to look at the judgements on criminalisation of homosexuality, physician assisted suicide, criminalisation of defamation, the Contempt of Court Act, the striking down of the NJAC Act, etc. to make this point). I suppose this reactionary attitude is only natural when the summum-bonum of your existence is a Constitution which was drafted 70 years ago, and you imbibed your legal values half a century ago.

Kejriwal and his AAP are a force for change of the status quo which is a creation of the elite comprising all the levers of power in the country – the politician, bureaucracy, judiciary, mainstream media, the fat cats of industry. It is no surprise, therefore, that they are all ranged against him. This status quo is preserved by quoting the laws, which again have been promulgated by the same elite! This latest High Court judgement only indicates how heavily the dice is loaded against him. He will appeal in the Supreme Court, of course, but I can guarantee he shall get no relief there – the fear of change is just as palpable there. One can’t play Russian roulette with all six chambers loaded.

Kejriwal fighting the Central Government on Delhi streets
Kejriwal fighting the Central Government on Delhi streets (File Photo)

Kejriwal had been emasculated by the central government even before he went to the High Court; now, after this order, he has been castrated, and has been rendered weaker than before. Earlier, he had jurisdiction (and the final say) on all matters except those relating to the police, land and services which vested in the Viceroy. Now, even those powers have been taken away and the Court has directed that even on these subjects the Viceroy shall be the final authority. A Chief Minister who won 67 of the 70 seats in the Assembly has been reduced to the status of a Head Clerk by relying on a law that is patently undemocratic. The Court could have trashed this law, like it did when it abrogated to itself the exclusive power to appoint judges, like it did again when it struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, like it did when it has repeatedly struck down laws providing reservations beyond 50%. Or it could have launched itself into the arena of law making like it has done by sending Sahara Shri to jail for almost two years without holding him guilty of any crime, or like it did when recasting the BCCI without benefit of any law at all, as Justice Markande Katju has alleged (the shit is really going to hit the fan on that one, I can’t wait for the CJI’s response !). Why have an Assembly that is still-born at birth ?

How can 16 million people be disenfranchised and denied a say (through their elected representatives) in how they are governed or taxed? How can a retired bureaucrat whose daily bread (and instructions) come from North Block have a veto on the lives of these 16 million people without being in the slightest manner accountable to them? This latest judgement makes Mr. Jung the most powerful Governor in the country exercising the powers of both the legislature and the executive – and he is not answerable to anyone ! All other state Governors are mere ceremonial figureheads but the Viceroy of Delhi exercises absolute executive powers without any mandate. He is neither elected by the people nor selected by any constitutional institution, neither fish nor fowl but is a relic from the Cretaceous Period which by all rights should have vanished into the mists of time with the pterodactyl. But he is still around, and is in the happy position of having his cake and eating it too – he takes all the decisions and Kejriwal takes all the blame if anything goes wrong (as it does all the time in Delhi). Kejriwal is expected to deliver on all his electoral promises with both hands tied behind him and a gun pointed at his head.

Mr. Jung has already torpedoed some of Kejriwal’s most important public welfare initiatives: the premium bus service intended to attract high-end commuters to public transport, the dedicated bus-lane scheme, proposal to provide permanent jobs to 17000 guest teachers in government schools, administrative control over the Anti Corruption Bureau, release of pending dues of Rs. 1200 crores by the DDA to the bankrupt Municipal Corporations. And now he is casting his net wider after the High Court judgement: he has already asked that ALL decisions taken by the government since it came to power, should be submitted to him for ratification. He has asked for 400 files containing important decisions and appointed a 3 member panel to scrutinise them for any irregularities! This adventurism is unheard of: if he has specific complaints he can certainly look into them, but he cannot go on a fishing expedition against the decisions of a democratically elected government. His malafides are clear, and this is going to be a witch-hunt in the Spanish Inquisition mode.

Mr. Jung’s own track record is abysmal. The Delhi police is directly under him and it is perhaps the worst performing organisation in this sorry state. According to figures published in the Hindustan Times of 31st August 2016 the crime rate in Delhi is between four and ten times higher than the national average. Here is a gist:

Crime Rate For Every One Lakh Residents

National Average

Delhi

Violent Crimes

26.7

97.4

Vehicle Theft

15.8

156.8

Crime Rate For Every One Lakh Women

National Average

Delhi

[a] All Crimes

26.7

97.4

[b] Rape

15.8

156.8

Crime Rate For Every One Lakh Children

National Average

Delhi

All Crimes

21.1

169

How is it that the central government is not questioning the Viceroy about these horrifying figures ? Why is the media or civil society not holding him accountable for the unacceptable failure of his own police force ? The judiciary seems to be doing its bit too, by staying (on a technicality) two unprecedented decisions taken by the AAP government – something which no previous government had the courage to take: imposition of hefty fines on five private hospitals which had violated the requirement of providing 25% free beds to EWS patients, and take over of two private schools which for years had been charging exorbitant fees (including the illegal capitation fees) and denying admission to EWS students. Caught between the courts and the Viceroy, Kejriwal doesn’t have the chance of an ice-cube in Hell. That he is still fighting is a tribute to the man’s idealism and fortitude, notwithstanding the jokes in South Delhi drawing rooms.

There is nothing legal or democratic about this system, and I don’t need a legal luminary charging 100,000 rupees a minute, or a judge whose own appointment by his peers is equally undemocratic, to tell me otherwise. Common sense tells me that the whole thing stinks Its time to dump this charade and discard the fig leaf of constitutionality with which the central government is hiding its naked lust for power over Delhi, its vindictiveness towards a man who was chosen by the citizens of Delhi to govern them, and the atrocious performance of its selected regent. The Delhi assembly should be abolished because it serves no purpose other than providing an alibi for the center’s misgovernance. Delhi is already one of the worst governed capital cities in the world. with no visible solutions to its pollution, traffic, water logging, unplanned construction, encroachment, corruption and soaring crime rate woes, to list just a few. It has more authorities than fleas on a mangy dog, and is rapidly heading for the same fate as the said dog. Abolish the Assembly and let the Viceroy rule, de jure and de facto, let him emerge from the shadows into the sunlight of the real world, let him doff his scepter and crown and muddy his gubernatorial feet in the by-lanes of Mongolpuri and Sangam Vihar, let him actually perform (and not merely sabotage), and let him subject himself to the true test of a democracy – accountability. Only then will the long suffering citizens of Delhi get what they deserve – either an efficient administration or the revelation that Viceroys should go the way of the dinosaur.

* * * * *
One of the advantages of having spent two years in each class in school is that you have twice the number of friends, and if even 5% of them turn out like you (i.e. me, underemployed), one shall then be assured of a stream of jokes/humour in one’s retiring days. I have been extremely fortunate in this respect, which is why I keep sharing them with the readers of Hill Post. Not all truisms in life have to be serious – here are some that may bring a smile on your face:

# You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.

# Beer is not the answer, its the question. ( The answer is YES)

# This is what I heard said about Mallya and Kingfisher Airlines on my last visit to Kanpur, my hometown: ” BIKINI ke chakkar me toh BIKNI hi thee !”

# Men don’t grow up; they just change bottles.

# Marriage is the perfect financial instrument: it pays dividends if you pay interest.

# Men’s priorities are clear: in cricket, the first abdominal guard was worn in 1894; the first helmet was used only forty years later, in 1934.

# A typical husband is like a split Air Conditioner: no matter how loud he is outdoors, he is designed to remain silent indoors.

If you’re still not smiling then I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait for Mr. Laloo Yadav’s next statement on the Ganga’s floods in Bihar

Avay Shukla retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December 2010. He is a keen environmentalist and loves the mountains. He divides his time between Delhi and his cottage in a small village above Shimla. He used to play golf at one time but has now run out of balls. He blogs at http://avayshukla.blogspot.in/

3 Comments

  • Very clearly and forcefully put forth. Kudos.
    Let Delhi have a Viceroy and scrap the Assembly.
    BTW when is Jung joining the BJP, if he hasn’t already?

  • Abusive does as abusive is. Whichever way you want to look at it.

    I have never read such a bald and completely objective analysis of a political situation before, to the best of my remembrance (which is not much worth remembering either).

    It evokes outrage. It is not interesting, it is “dastardly” – archaic but apt, as in devious and underhand.

    The situation is a shame.

    Kejriwal should resign in protest and throw the matter open to the public. The public should demand a point by point response and peformance from Mr Jung over a precisely crafted period of time based on experience and then accept Jung’s resignation in the face of failure. Worse comes to worst, he could be carried out in his chair (singing jolly good fello) and transported to wherever his high command is. And the public could then ask Kejriwal and his 66 MLAs to resume work. And of course ensure that the police have no reporting process to their authority as a result of discredit and therefore must report but through the public and its authorised representative in governance. And for the Supreme Court to explain Delhi High Court’s decrees. If these are not forthcoming take the matter to the International Courts of Justice in Hague, saying this is malafide in the worst of convoluted ways; that we are in danger as a people of losing our fundamental rights and while a criminal case is not made out, it is an anticipatory appeal that the rest of the world may watch the struggle of the polity, teetering on the edge of collapse, so that it does not descend to yet another internecine blood-bath like Syria. Let the world take preventive action instead of corrective action when it is far too late.

  • And just from me to Kejriwal – for goodness’ sake, get rid of the dashed muffler and the mattress and razai and the pasty – faced look of martyrdom. Stand up and fight. Lying around won’t do. Ask Sharmila Ma’am. [kkm].

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