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Is AAP government fighting for the people

June 11, 2015

Towards the end of May, at a time when the clash between Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party government snowballed into a major controversy, Manish Sisodia – the deputy chief minister of Delhi, tried to give the whole issue a certain dimension by saying that his government was actually fighting for the people.

Is Aam Admi Party really working for the people of Delhi or indulged in their own internal fighting.

“We are not fighting for personal gains, but for the people’s rights, their benefit, and against corruption,” Sisodia said at the much publicised ‘Janta ki Cabinet, Janta ke Beech’  organized at the Central Park in Connaught Place to mark the completion of 100 days of AAP government in Delhi on 25th May .

Obviously Sisodia’s attempt was to put the entire blame of the government’s inadequacies on the Lieutenant Governor largely because of the complexities involved in the administration of Delhi. Clearly his attempt was to give a definite twist to the entire matter by projecting these inadequacies as a (natural?) outcome of a confrontation between an elected state government and an appointed executive who was accountable only to the Union Government rather than the electorates (read people of Delhi).

As it is, as we mentioned in these columns, there are inherent limitations of the Delhi government as it enjoys limited legislative powers and needed the approval of the Lieutenant Governor and the ministries of Urban Development and Home Affairs and the assent of the President before enacting a legislation in some 60 matters relating to municipal governance. (refer to http://www.elections.in/blog/war-arvind-kejriwal-najeeb-jung/)

The AAP government wants a larger say in governance and hence the power struggle between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Jung has thus assumed classical proportion with the CM even calling Jung as the ‘BJP’s polling agent’!

No doubt Kejriwal carries on his shoulders the aspiration of the people of Delhi who had given an unprecedented mandate to him in the state election in February this year. Yet, his resolve to rule with an iron fist is earning him more enemies than friends well within his party itself. Remember how within days of assuming power he threw out some prominent founder members of his party including Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan and Professor Anand Kumar, who he saw as a threat to his supremacy in the party and government?

Kejriwal  had controversially stepped down as CM just after 49 days, last year, and controversies have continued to chase the Kejriwal government right from the start of his second stint as the CM of Delhi. As if his confrontations- first with the likes of Yadav, Bhushan and Kumar  and thereafter with the Centre represented by Jung—were not enough,  now Kejriwal has enough firefighting at hand to do in the wake of the arrest of his law minister Jitender Singh Tomar over a fake degree, and the charges of domestic violence by the wife of his MLA and a minister in the last AAP government, Somnath Bharti. Tomar has already resigned from the cabinet and has moved a sessions court challenging his arrest. The AAP stands by him and Sisodia even claimed this to be an “attempt” by the Centre “to teach AAP a lesson”.

What a quirk of irony! As the consequences of such a bitter fight now show up, instead of fighting for the people, it is rather the AAP government ending up fighting for ‘its’ people.

No doubt the bitter tussle and war of words between Kejriwal and Jung is taking its toll on governance. No doubt that Kejriwal might be feeling let down by his own people.  The bitter fight between the two power centres has already caused much harm. Its adverse impact could be seen in municipal hospitals where the non-payment of salaries resulted in the staff and doctors striking work thus causing disruption in even emergency medical services for the people for a considerably long period. Although the doctors returned to work, they have already given an ultimatum and threatened to go on an indefinite strike if their demands were not met within a stipulated period of time.

Similarly, the sweepers littered Delhi roads in protest of delay in payment of salaries. The common man was at the receiving end yet again and its rivals have missed no opportunity to target it. Taking a potshot at Kejriwal, the Delhi Congress President Ajay Maken, stated:  “The AAP government is busy in fighting while the people of Delhi are facing different problems. Sometimes they fight with Haryana, sometime with the Centre, and when they do not find anyone they fight among themselves.”

However, to blame the AAP government for all the wrongs may not be fair. A significant achievement of the state government is to check corruption. This is showing with the arrest of over 50 “corrupt’ officials and the earning of the government. Sisodiya points out that in 55 days in the new financial year, even “we have earned Rs 2,924 crore whereas an earlier government could only collect Rs 2,088 crore in the same period. So, we have increased our revenue collections by Rs 836 crore in only 55 days.”

Yet, cases against the likes of senior party leaders such as Tomar and Bharti, does affect the credibility of the government. The sooner it comes out clean on such issues, and the sooner it resolve the issues with the Lieutenant Governor,  the better it would be for Kejriwal and Sisodia to address the real  issues confronting the ordinary people of Delhi.  Is this too much for asking considering the fight (for the control of Delhi) has larger political purpose?

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Disclaimer: The views expressed are of those of the author and do not represent the views of Elections.in.

I am a journalist, educationist and filmmaker with over twenty years of experience in the media industry. I have worked in different capacities in all formats (print, television and web) in prestigious media organizations in India and abroad. As a journalist I have covered social issues, natural calamities, successive state assembly as well as parliament elections since 1989, government offices, Indian political parties, state legislative assemblies as well as Indian Parliament.

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