Activism passing off as governance?

Activism passing off as governance?

Only three weeks into power, the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi Government has had run-ins with practically every other branch of the administrative machinery--- ranging from the judiciary to the bureaucrats. Starting with Arvind Kejriwal’s bemusing lack of knowledge or naïveté, first reflec­ted in a “call to all honest officers to come and join the Government”, to Somnath Bharti’s brazen summoning of district court judges for a “meeting,” the law minister has now taken it further by raiding the home of a few foreign nationals and bulldozing the police into illegally searching and detaining them.

Sadly, the Chief Minister has decided to back his ministers and gone on a ‘dharna’ to have the ‘offending’ policemen transferred. Reports, though, say that many senior bureaucrats are themselves seeking transfers now to escape the “tyranny” of the Aam Aadmi Party Government.

When Metrolife spoke to some former senior bureaucrats and police officers, considered authorities in their respective fields, dis­ap­p­oint­­ment reflected in their voices as well. Shailaja Chandra, former Chief Secretary to the Delhi Government, says, “AAP has always represented the anger and frustration of the common man. They think and behave like an aam aadmi: ‘Why isn’t the Government moving fast?’ ‘Why isn’t the police doing anything?’”

“Their intentions may be right, but now that they are in the Government, they must realise that there is a proper procedure for everything. Also, they must stop thinking of every bureaucrat as corrupt and their enemy. Senior officers are trained in the Constitution and the law for the very purpose of assisting ministers. They should take their counsel on all matters whether that be power and water tariff structure or law and order situations. If they skip this step, they will only invite more trouble.”

Former Secretary to Government of India, Nripendra Misra says the AAP ministers’ “trade union-like behaviour is extremely disturbing.” “If these people think that simply catering to populist demands like driving out foreigners is good governance, then they are wrong. Look at the diplomatic repercussions of the raid conducted by Bharti on the residence of the Ugandan women. Every African nation is protesting. There is a larger impact of every action that you take, and Aam Aadmi Party boasts that it has national ambitions!”

Retired Delhi High Court judge Justice SN Dhingra explains that there is a detailed procedure laid down in the Narcotic Drugs and Psycho­tropic Substances Act for arrests to be made under it. A decoy customer approaches the suspect; a police party lies in wait; only when the he signals exchange of drugs and money, does the police conduct a search. That also is preferably done in the presence of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate. Unfortunately, none of these rules were foll­o­wed in Somnath Bharti’s raid.

“This is not the attitude of an aam aadmi,” Justice Dhingra warns, “To say that I am the law and the CrPC and IPC are nothing, is the tone of a minister intoxicated by power.”

Prakash Singh, former DG, Border Security Force and DGP, UP and Assam, is appa­lled by Arvind Kejriwal’s remark that “We will fix the Delhi Police.” “How can he say that? I understand that not every police person will be proactive and responsible, but there are remedies in law for that as well. And how can you bring down the critically important issue of Delhi Police being under the Union Home Ministry to a street agitation? It is a complex issue and needs to be dealt with with maturity.” 

AAP seems to be lacking that experience and maturity, just as yet, and is, of course, having a problem explaining the conduct of its ministers. 

When Metrolife contacted former journalist Ashutosh, who has just joined the party, he said, “The locals had been complaining to the police for three months. Obviously, the law minister had to do something. The public, and even media, has gotten into a habit of rubbishing politicians. Wait and watch. We’ll prove our mettle irrespective of all criticism.”  

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