Is this AAP’s Battle of Zama?

The bitter tussle between the Aam Aadmi Party government and the Lt Governor is akin to a chondral injury, leaving governance hobbling

rahul

Rahul Dass | August 5, 2016 | New Delhi


#Delhi high court   #Najeeb Jung   #Arvind Kejriwal   #Aam Aadmi Party   #Delhi   #statehood  



A bit of history first. Hannibal, a military commander from Carthage, is considered one of the greatest military commanders in history, particularly for crossing the mighty Alps with men – and elephants – and taking the war directly to the Roman republic. It was an incredible feat. But, he too was later defeated in the battle of Zama in 202 BC.

Cut to circa 2015. The AAP sweeps to power in the Delhi assembly elections, winning an eye-watering 67 of the 70 seats. The AAP tsunami wiped away the BJP, which barely got three seats, while the Congress fared even worse, getting a humiliating zero seats.

There is no doubt that the AAP is hugely popular. It is a heady mix of anti-corruption agenda, change and a promise of better governance. Arvind Kejriwal kept his word and initially Delhi saw a change for the better. All that was good.

It was later when it began to question the Lt Governor’s authority, did the party began to slowly step out of line. Week after week, there was some issue or the other over which the Delhi government had a run-in with Najeeb Jung.

The AAP-led Delhi government began to vociferously demand full statehood. They wanted power for the elected representatives. Simultaneously, they ramped up the confrontation with the LG. The Delhi government took one decision after the other, without consulting the Lt Governor, a position created by the constitution.

It is here that they began to miss the point. Till such time, the party was operating within the constitutional framework, they were in a strong position, but the moment they chose to attack the LG, and in a way launch an indirect attack on the constitution, they seem to have lost the plot. These attacks looked like an attempt to erode the body politic.

The Delhi high court on August 4 ruled that the capital continues to be a union territory under the administrative control of the Lt Governor and “does not acquire the status of a state”. The AAP decisions that were set aside include the probe into Delhi and District Cricket Association affairs, CNG fitness case, nominations of directors to power discoms, making DERC compensate for power cuts, revision of property circle rates and ACB probe against central government employees. The Delhi government did get relief in the right to appoint special public prosecutors.

Najeeb Jung rightly said that “it is not a win for Najeeb Jung and loss for Arvind Kejriwal. The court order is a kind of clarification that incorrect things will have to be corrected”.

However, Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia was quick to raise a larger point: “If Delhi was to be run by the Lt Governor, then why was the Constitution amended to have state assembly? Why provision was made to have an elected government?”

The AAP’s argument is undoubtedly strong. However, they need to take a fresh look at their efforts and perhaps take a different non-confrontationist approach. They may consider a referendum, but they need to be careful as it is a word loaded with too much meaning. Instead of wasting time by constantly questioning the LG and thereby undermining the constitutional framework, the AAP can perhaps consider launching a mass movement. It was after all born from one such movement that Anna Hazare had led. This peaceful mass mobilization does lead to good things and the AAP’s subsequent political victories is a case in point.

If the AAP government is indeed keen to get a full statehood for Delhi and have the right to govern the national capital, it needs to introspect as to why people are no longer so enthused about this issue, as they were when the party had just come to power.

It must realise that for better or for worse, things change. For the AAP too, things have dramatically changed. However, it would be unfortunate if the constitutional framework begins to feel like a millstone for the AAP. It has to respect the constitution and then try to work within it.

Popularity does not mean that one is always right. The grace lies in accepting the other point of view, yet not giving up on its dreams.

For once, the AAP seems to have met its match in the LG and it now remains to be seen how the battle, which has not shifted to the courtroom, pans out. Would this be the battle of Zama for the AAP?

 

Comments

 

Other News

Gripping graphic narrative helps make sense of pandemics past

The Moral Contagion By Julia Hauser and Sarnath Banerjee HarperCollins, 140 pages, Rs 699 The world has lar

“Globally, there is unprecedented positivity for India”

Addressing the Viksit Bharat Viksit Uttar Pradesh program in Lucknow on Monday, prime minister Narendra Modi launched 14,000 projects across the state, worth more than Rs 10 lakh crore at the fourth groundbreaking ceremony of UP Global Investors Summit held in February 2023. The projects relate to sectors

World’s biggest bird-a-thon begins in India

During the four days from Feb 16, more than a thousand birdwatchers throughout India are coming together with the goal of documenting as many birds as possible across the country’s diverse locations. Over one lakh birdwatchers globally participate in the annual Great Backyard Bird Coun

Comments sought on Draft Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advt in Coaching Sector

The Central Consumer Protection Authority has sought public comments on the ‘Draft Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisement in Coaching Sector’. The draft guidelines are placed on the website of the Department of Consumer Affairs and are accessible through the link:

Electoral bond scheme unconstitutional: Supreme Court

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India has held the anonymous, unregulated and unlimited funding through electoral bonds and companies as unconstitutional. The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court comprising chief justice DY Chandrachud and justices Sanjiv Khanna, B

Interim Budget and frontier technology: Sab ka Vikas, Sab ki Technology

The world is at the cusp of a revolution based on Industry 4.0 and green technologies, including AI, big data, IoT, EVs, solar power, etc., which offer developing countries the opportunity to leapfrog into economic prosperity. However, India’s gross expenditure on R&D (GERD) still stands at a mea

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook Twitter Google Plus Linkedin Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter