Around the people in 49 days


Arvind Kejriwal’s 49-day innings in the Delhi chief minister’s office may well go down in history as one of the most debated upon.

The Aam Aadmi Party leader’s well calculated move to resign along with his cabinet colleagues ended prematurely what was maturing into a model of governance capable of being distinctive from other administrators from different political hues.

As the city awaits the next government, many comparisons are bound to be made between the governments headed by Kejriwal, Sheila Dikshit of the Congress and BJP chief ministers.

The hasty, though well thought out and timed, exit of the Kejriwal government may have left his hardcore supporters yearning for more but a section of residents of Delhi would also view his resignation with a much more critical prism.

During the initial two days in power, Kejriwal had said that his was a “48-hour” government, so he was in a hurry to take decisions. In the end, he turned out to be nearly right on the figure of 48 by stepping down in about that many days.
He took oath on December 28, 2012 at Ramlila Maidan and announced his resignation on February 14, 2013 on Hanuman Road.

AAP’s positive takeaways  

Whenever Kejriwal and his cabinet used to make an announcement related to their electoral promise, they ensured that they trumpeted it by calling it historic.

Historic indeed were his announcements on free 666 litres of water daily to each household and the subsidy for cutting power bills of consumers using up to 400 units of electricity in a month were two such decisions.

He dared to offer to people which no politician could and accomplished at least these two, even if through the subsidy route.

The AAP while showcasing the Kejriwal government’s achievements in future elections will also highlight the fact that corruption had come down in the city during its rule. This though is a debateable issue.

By arming citizens to conduct stings with mobile phones, Kejriwal caught the imagination of the young tech savvy generation whose cell phones gave them the licence to “shoot”. He empowered almost every citizen to collect evidence and create terror among government servants.

Use of dilapidated buses as makeshift night shelters was one innovation that gave a glimpse into the Kejriwal government’s innovative ideas.

The preparation of the anti-graft Jan Lokpal Bill was a promise that enlarged Kejriwal’s image of an anti-corruption crusader. He virtually rode to power on a wave of anti-corruption agenda that also became the trigger for the end of his innings in Delhi Secretariat. 

Hit wickets by AAP govt

Former Law Minister Somnath Bharti’s “raid” against Ugandan women in Khirki Village, his naming a Danish rape victim’s name and quickly retracting after the faux pas, over 175 deaths due to cold during the AAP government’s tenure and Kejriwal’s two-day dharna near Parliament virtually threatening the Republic Day celebrations on the Rajpath. The 49-day government hit quite a few lows during its tenure, giving enough ammunition to political rivals who will rub it in during the Lok Sabha elections to project the AAP in poor light.

 Soon after Kejriwal’s exit, his political rivals in Delhi said the former chief minister seemed to be in a tearing hurry so he did not want to send the Jan Lokpal Bill draft to the central government for approval as he feared that the federal government might sit over it.

But when it came to delivering on formation of the women protection force, as promised in the AAP manifesto, or act on demands of DTC contract employees and guest school teachers, he preferred to constitute committees that were given several weeks to give their recommendations for the government to act.

Over 175 deaths due to cold in December-January, perhaps, was the darkest chapter in Kejriwal’s rule.

While some functionaries in the government tried to raise doubts that the number of unclaimed bodies had been added to the deaths due to cold, the government’s critics said the victims’ post-mortem clearly indicated the cause of their death as cold.
Bharti’s intemperate language also made news with his own party leaders admitting that he needed to be cautious.

“Dharna CM”, as Kejriwal came to be known after his January 20 protest near Parliament, sent a message to Delhiites, including government employees, that street agitations are the only language he understands.

As a result, there were an unprecedented number of protests outside the Delhi secretariat during the AAP government tenure.

To some, Kejriwal’s dharna near Parliament projected him in bad light.
His decision to hold an agitation, despite being a chief minister, inconvenienced many in the heart of the capital due to traffic jams and closure of Metro stations. The hardships faced by the common man during the two days of his protest may take some time to fade from memory.

Bharti’s virtual run-in with Delhi Commission for Women Chairperson Barkha Singh and the Kejriwal government’s foiled attempt to replace her also showed the debutant party’s government’s tendency towards knee-jerk reaction.

What BJP and Congress gain

BJP leader Harsh Vardhan, who very narrowly missed out on the chief minister’s chair after the December 4 Assembly elections, said Kejriwal was on a mission to call everyone corrupt and junk the conventions and parliamentary practices which, in a way, made him the chief minister despite not having the numbers in the Assembly.  
“India was shamed among nations due to the harassment of women from African countries,” said Harsh Vardhan, describing Kejriwal government’s performance as dismal.

Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely said his party took the tough decision to vote against the Kejriwal government as it was following an unconstitutional course of introducing a bill without Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung’s recommendation.
Both Congress and BJP, which had been arch rivals till the entry of AAP in Delhi politics, would hope that the Kejriwal government’s lack of governance and the spate of controversies would help them challenge the new party better in the elections.
“The AAP was an untested force till the last Assembly elections. Now we know its weaknesses in governance. Practically, no development took place during their tenure,” said a Congress leader.

A BJP leader said water shortage still persists in many areas, pension for the elderly has not been released for some weeks and there is no development fund for legislators.

The Congress is not keen on early Assembly elections in Delhi. The Bharatiya Janata Party is in no hurry to reveal its cards as it would want to see the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections before making the next move.

Nitin Gadkiri, in-charge of BJP’s Delhi affairs, categorically said that the party will not form a government in Delhi with the current numbers in the 70-member Assembly.
The BJP and its ally Akali Dal have 32 legislators, the AAP has 27, the Congress has eight and there are three others, including expelled AAP legislator Vinod Kumar Binny.

Binny likely game changer

If Delhi is kept under President’s Rule and the current Assembly is not dissolved but kept under suspended animation and new political permutations and combinations start taking shape some time down the line, the one man who may play a crucial role would be Laxmi Nagar legislator Vinod Kumar Binny. He can be the link between a new political group or a combine and AAP legislators who may not want to fight a fresh Assembly elections – fearing defeat or due to lack of resources.

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