Meanwhile, politics over control of cops never ends

Kejriwal asks PM to hand over Delhi Police to city govt for at least one year

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over women’s safety in the city and his vocal demand to control Delhi Police have yet again coincided with a spate of chilling child rapes.

Over Twitter and through angry bytes given to journalists, Kejriwal  vented anger on his helplessness over keeping his poll promise of making Delhi lose its infamous ‘rape capital’ tag.

However, wiser from experience, Kejriwal has now scaled down his demand on controlling the police, who at present report to the Centre’s representative Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung. Rather than seeking permanent control over law enforcers, he has now urged Modi to hand over Delhi Police to the city government for one year.

Both the Centre and the AAP government know that what the chief minister is demanding is not possible without the enactment of a law through Parliament. Yet, political compulsions of a popular chief minister force him to repeat his demand again and again, apparently to tell people that he is trying his best.

Political rivals and former police officials believe Kejriwal’s wishful thinking over gaining control over police is not more than posturing to create a brand identity that is very different from his predecessor and Congress leader Sheila Dikshit.

In his recent outburst over the alleged failure of police to check rapes and get the accused punished, Kejriwal stated this in as many words: “The Prime Minister must understand that I am not (previous Chief Minister) Sheila Dikshit. I will not remain silent.” He also shared his government’s intentions to move the Supreme Court to make police officials more accountable.

Dikshit was in the eye of a storm after the 2012 gang-rape of a physiotherapy intern in a bus. At that time she claimed her city government could not do much as police were not under her control.

Dikshit, a veteran Congress leader and three-time chief minister, retaliated by questioning Kejriwal on his poll promise to make the city safer for women and check rapes. “What have you done so far, which is different? Didn’t we talk about lack of control over Delhi Police as a problem?” says Dikshit.

The Delhi Congress has even gone ahead and demanded Kejriwal’s resignation over his failure to stop crimes against women. Delhi Congress spokesperson Sharmishta Mukherjee says, “The people of Delhi want Kejriwal to resign for his failure to stop rapes and crimes against women. He has failed to keep his poll promise.”

BJP’s Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta blames Kejriwal for raking up the issue of control of police to divert attention from his failures. “He uses this technique to mislead people whenever he is facing the heat for failure or corruption,” he says, adding that Kejriwal has made it a habit to venture into territories beyond the jurisdiction of the Aam Aadmi Party government.

Soon after the public outcry over the recent rape of minor after her abduction from a Ramlila in west Delhi, Kejriwal met Jung and told him there is no fear among rapists as they know that they can easily get away even after the crime. This is something which even Dikshit used to say when she was the chief minister.

The Chief Minister tweeted, “PM sir, give control of delhi police to del govt for one year. If situation does not improve, take it back. Seeking time to meet LG n PM to discuss women safety in Delhi.”

Earlier this month, Kejriwal tried to do something which Dikshit never thought of doing in her 15-year rule. He chaired a meeting of the Delhi cabinet to approve setting up of a State Police Complaint Authority, a subject on which the Kejriwal government has no power to take a decision.

Experts say even if the Delhi government went ahead with the proposal, the fate of such an authority would be subject to legal scrutiny as only the central government can set up such an agency, if it felt there was a need for it.

Delhi Police ex-commissioner RS Gupta and Arunachal Pradesh ex-DGP Amod Kanth, who earlier served in Delhi, are unsure about future of the proposal.
“Wishful thinking cannot create a law,” says Kanth, adding the authority proposed by the elected government in the city is not legally possible.

Gupta also wonders why the Kejriwal government is taking a decision on a subject on which it cannot legislate. “The problem is that they are not adhering to the division of power followed by the governments before them,” says Gupta, crediting Dikshit for knowing her government’s jurisdictional limits.

The former police commissioner says, “When the Supreme Court says all states have to create such an authority, it does not apply to Delhi as it is an UT and not a state. The word state is a misnomer for Delhi.”

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