Not by bluster alone

AAP's immature steps

Corruption is an evil eating into the vitals of our society. But you don’t fight it by spreading suspicion about everyone’s honesty. 

It is hoped that Delhi government law minister Somnath Bharti has understood the constitutional directive of Article 227 of the Constitution  providing for separation of powers between the executive and judiciary when he along with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had an audience with the Chief Justice of Delhi high court so as to remove any impression of even indirect interference in the domain of judiciary. 

Aam Aadmi slogan does not permit or behove an AAP minister walking late by one hour into the middle of screening of a film at a public centre and interrupting the show so as to give a lecture. Is this not more in the nature of act of feudal lord than an elected minister? The AAP government also needs to clarify its announced policy of 95 per cent of local Delhiwallahs only being eligible for Delhi colleges – a policy opposed by the students’ associations. 

It is self evident that any political party must present a defined socially relevant policy and programme. That the country should have a corruption free government is unexceptional and no party can possibly say to the contrary. People naturally will judge by actual experience. But then people want to know whether the objectives laid down by our founding fathers in the Constitution are the ones on which any government, state or central is functioning. Some of the basic unalterable objectives of our Constitution postulate the government’s active role in developing an inclusive society with special consideration for minorities to minimise inequalities in the society; In short, any political party must spell out clearly its position vis-à-vis the big corporate sector, either foreign or Indian, and its commitment to socialism, public sector pattern, as emphasised by Dr Ambedkar, as being the objective of the Constitution. 

Unfortunately on all these policy matters there is a resounding silence by the AAP. It is not enough to say that a party is committed to the poor – that bald declaration is made by even neo fascist groups all over the world including 

India. A party has to spell out the instruments it will apply to achieve the growth of economy. In India, public sector companies like the Oil India Limited, NTPC are a strong bulwark of growth, as against failure of some of the biggest private sector corporations including those whose hands sullied by coalgate or telecom scandal. With that experience, for a party to cast doubts on public sector’s existence is to betray the constitutional mandate. Also a party going national must also indicate its position at the ongoing policy of the Central government on selling off family silver of public sector to the private predators.  

Dangerous proportion

Right to food is an absolute right of every citizen in the country. PUCL has been fighting for the acceptance of the right in the Supreme Court for years – it is because of this that the government have been obligated to pass the Right to Food Act for supplying food at subsidised price. The AAP government is obligated to clear its policy on the demand of Pension Parishad to raise the pension for Delhi’s old people to a monthly minimum pension of Rs 5,000. An immediate response from the Delhi government is called for to the danger of displacement of lakhs of people pointed out by Medha Patkar, at the decision of Delhi -Mumbai and Amritsar-Calcutta corridors being activated soon. 

The self congratulation by the AAP that it has solved the water problem in Delhi is cynical. About 70 litres a day free water means nothing to about 40 per cent of Delhi’s population, simply because there are no water pipes in those areas and government is not supplying water at all – they depend on water mafia tankers who charge exorbitant rates. In fact the experiment of privatisation of water must be discontinued. This facility must remain in public sector, as right to water is a human right. 

No doubt corruption is an evil eating into the vitals of our society. But you do not fight it by spreading suspicion about everyone’s honesty excepting those belonging to the ruling party. To what dangerous proportion this is sought to be practiced when the AAP government unabashedly announces that the government is creating a service which the chief minister says will teach public callers, how to conduct a sting operation. This is frightening. This method reminds me of the system devised during the decadent period of USSR regime when Russian children were indoctrinated to spy on their parents and report to the secret service and then were publically honoured. Corruption is not eased out by such hair-brained sting operations but rather by the top in the administration being above reproach. 

A crucial difference between monarchical and democratic government is the first lesson taught in the first year of political science of Louis XIV, the autocratic ruler of France who right till his end proudly proclaimed. “I am the State”. The consequence was the bloody French Revolution of 1789. It is a pity that this elementary principle was forgotten by Kejriwal, when he announced with a boastful flourish that defaulters belonging to his party of electricity bill from March 2013 will not be required to pay the arrears and instead these will be paid by Delhi government. As it is, a question may well be asked at this partiality by lakhs of voters who paid electricity bills and have also voted for AAP. Are there some people more equal than others as George Orwell in his novel, Animal Farm, sarcastically posed? It needs to be continuously remembered that running the government is a sober business and not a public bluster and empty rhetoric.

(The writer is former chief justice of Delhi high court.) 

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