AAP, BJP must end ugly political fight

The face-off between the AAP government in Delhi and Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal has intensified with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and three of his ministers sitting in dharna at the L-G’s residence for a full week now. Two of the ministers are on a hunger strike. The confrontation is actually between the Narendra Modi government and the Kejriwal government. The LG is the Centre’s representative, like the governor of a state, but the Kejriwal government has said that he, like his predecessor, has acted as the Centre’s political agent. A week after the protest started, it has now assumed another dimension, too, and transformed into a political fight between the opposition parties and the Centre. Chief ministers of four opposition-ruled states — HD Kumaraswamy of Karnataka, Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal, Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh and Pinarayi Vijayan of Kerala —have extended support to Kejriwal and expressed their solidarity with him. Federal relations are also involved.

The sight of a chief minister staging a protest at the LG’s premises is unseemly. Kejriwal has been on the unconventional protest street before also, and has tried to combine administration with agitation. But the AAP government's demands and grievances are not all made up. They include a direction to the IAS officers, who he says are on strike, and approval for a scheme for home delivery of rations. Relations between the AAP government and Delhi bureaucrats had come to a head in February when Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash was allegedly assaulted at the chief minister’s residence. The officers have denied any non-cooperation, but the state government says the administration has been affected. Kejriwal has written to the prime minister about this and the opposition chief ministers have taken up the matter with the Centre. The AAP has also reiterated its old demand for full statehood for Delhi, which it is likely to press more strongly in the coming days. 

The Aam Aadmi Party’s politics has often been marked by exaggeration, theatrics and self-righteousness. Its government has struck combative postures and adopted styles which are not in keeping with the sense of responsibility governments should have. But the Central government has not given enough space for the Kejriwal government and has harassed and obstructed it in many ways. The AAP government’s demands need to be looked into, the Centre must respect the federal spirit, and the LG should act only in the interest of the people of Delhi and not be party to a political fight. Delhi rightly has a special constitutional set-up, but BJP and Congress, too, have in the past vociferously demanded full statehood for it. There must be an accommodative spirit on all issues between the state and the Centre. 

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AAP, BJP must end ugly political fight

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