Mr. Modi takes no prisoners. He is not magnanimous in victory or humble in defeat, He is a bad loser and has yet to get over the whupping that Kejriwal gave him in Delhi last year: unlike seasoned politicians who take a defeat or two in their stride, Mr. Modi has decided to stake his all in swatting this impudent bacillus in his backyard, even if its the last thing he ever does: the irony is – it WILL be the last thing he does, or to be more correct, the last thing he ATTEMPTS to do.
Forget, dear reader, the merits or otherwise of Kejriwal’s government: there will be a time to discuss that elsewhere: there have been far worse state (and central) governments in our sorry history. The whole point of democracy is that properly elected governments have a right to exist: this, quite clearly, is one lesson of democracy (there are others too) that Mr. Modi has forgotten to imbibe, which is why he keeps flunking the test whenever the Supreme Court asks the questions. He failed the test first in Uttarakhand, and again in Arunachal Pradesh: he can’t afford to flunk it again (its bit like a doping test for international sports- three fails and you’re out on your backside).
And so Mr. Modi has devised a new SOP for Mr. Kejriwal and Delhi, against whom he has deployed more heavy artillery than he has along the LOC with Pakistan: the Home Ministry, the Lieutenant Governor, CBI, Anti Corruption Branch, Income Tax Deptt, Election Commission, the three Municipal Corporations. As I write this, of the 67 MLAs of AAP in Delhi, FIRs have been filed against 12 (of whom 11 have been arrested), the 13th ( Rajesh Rishi of Janakpuri) will probably have been arrested by the time you read this, the 14th ( Kartar Singh of Chhatarpur) has just been subjected to an Income Tax raid at his office and residence, and a 15th (of Narela) has been named in an abetment to suicide FIR even though the suicide note nowhere names him, and a 16th (AAP leader, not MLA), Swati Maliwal, Chairperson of the Delhi Women’s Commission has been booked in another frivolous case. A 17th, Naresh Yadav has been arrested by the Punjab police for desecration, simply on the statement of someone (Mr. Badal is a quick learner), an FIR has just been registered by a dismissed AAP MLA, Asim Khan of Matia Mahal alleging death threats to him from Kejriwal, no less: I wouldn’t be surprised if this is used to nail Kejriwal. If you think this is beginning to sound like an Agatha Christie murder mystery (“and then there were none….”), you’d be right, but wait – there’s more. There’s a legal John Grisham twist too.
Another 21 MLAs of AAP are likely to be disqualified soon because they were appointed Parliamentary Secretaries without an enabling law. It was stupid of Kejriwal to have done so without ensuring that the legislation was in place, but then how was he to know that the law in India has more twists and turns than one of Baba Ramdev’s yogic asanas, or India’s Pakistan policy ? Why should his MLAs be disqualified and not those of the 13 other states who also have Parliamentary Secretaries? Why was his legislation not approved by the Union Government when similar laws of other states have been approved? Why is the Election Commission picking on Delhi alone for examining this issue and not the other states? Why, for instance, does Himachal still have Parliamentary Secretaries when the High Court has ruled against the practice ? If the other states can hide their nakedness behind the fig leaf of a law then why deny this fig leaf to Kejriwal ?
Because the others did not give Mr. Modi a whupping he’ll never live down, even if he continues as PM for the next hundred years. Because he wants the Delhi government to fall so that elections can be held again and Mr. Modi can redeem himself again. Its a bit like Sushil Kumar, having lost out to Narsingh Yadav for the Olympics, insisting on a re-trial. Hell hath no fury like a pracharak scorned.
In pursuance of his scorched earth policy – for the price is being paid by ordinary Delhi-ites (that is, those who don’t live in Lutyen’s Delhi) – Mr. Modi will just not let the Delhi government function. Kejriwal is not allowed any say in the postings of his officers (always an accepted privilege of a Chief Minister): officers are shunted in and out of Delhi (mainly out) at the whims of the Home Ministry, and within Delhi by the LG. They have no accountability to the Chief Minister and are constantly looking towards North Block or the Raj Bhavan for their very survival. The Delhi Police are Mr. Modi’s hit men, told to pick off one MLA or the other on any charge – it doesn’t matter that the charges are trumped up and will ultimately fail: in our judicial system the process of proving oneself innocent is the real punishment, and the arbiters of this are the police, not the judiciary.
The Delhi police will not cooperate with Kejriwal on any matter, the latest instance being the just concluded 3 day strike by auto and taxi unions. Instigated by the BJP, these goons employed violence and intimidation to ensure that even those autos/taxis which wanted to ply were not allowed to, and the 70000 odd police force did nothing to stop this hooliganism. I myself witnessed this on the 27th evening, at Madhu Vihar in east Delhi. Autos were being forcibly stopped by gangs of ruffians, their drivers being roughed up and their keys taken away. Not 20 meters away stood a group of cops, watching benignly, splendidly indolent as the law was being beaten to a pulp within sight.
The FIRs against, and the arrests of, AAP MLAs is far worse because these are law makers who are being intimidated and prevented from doing their job. It is no coincidence that, except in a couple of FIRs, in all the others the charges are of ‘molestation’, ‘intimidation’ and ‘outraging the modesty’ of women. There is a reason for this: thanks to recent badly conceived amendments to the law no evidence is needed to level this charge other than an unsupported statement of the complainant (poor Justice Verma must be turning in his grave at maximum revolutions). We all know how adept the police are at extracting ‘statements’, and this law has come in very handy for them in executing Mr. Modi’s grand plan. In fact, its becoming a bit hilarious now: every second day we have some woman or the other coming out of the woodwork screaming, having just realised that she has been ‘molested’ by an AAP leader and insisting that he be arrested. Meanwhile, of course, the real rapes continue unabated because our police are busy rounding up Kejriwal’s supporters.
Every single initiative of Kejriwal is being sabotaged. The Home Ministry will not clear at least twelve Bills passed by the Delhi Assembly relating to initiatives on health, education, land use, etc., on ridiculous ‘technical’ grounds, because the BJP doesn’t wish to see him deliver on any of his election promises. The DDA will not transfer land needed for public infrastructure (new schools, hospitals, bus stands) for the same reason. The three Corporations (all controlled by the BJP) will cooperate in NOTHING – they have already instigated three strikes by their employees in the last 18 months, hoping that the resultant civic mess will rebound badly on Kejriwal’s administration. The LG will raise innumerable objections on every proposal of the Delhi government and accord his grudging approval only when he can squat on it no longer.
What Mr. Modi is doing to a constitutionally elected government in Delhi is an affront to the people of Delhi. He should let the state government function and stand or fall on its own merits. If, as some believe strongly, Kejriwal is a charlatan who is taking the people for a ride, then let the electorate of Delhi decide his future. By misusing the coercive power of the union government to undermine Kejriwal’s administration, Mr. Modi is only exposing his petty mind-set and a deep insecurity, which the people of Delhi (and other states) are bound to see through sooner or later. This can only benefit Kejriwal.
Mr. Modi is also making a big mistake by reposing so much faith in the arrogance of his position and power. Kejriwal is a fighter. The Prime Minister can do worse than ponder over the words of Mark Twain:
” Its not about the size of the dog in the fight, its about the size of the fight in the dog.”
The above has been written by Avay Shukla for The Hill Post dated 1st August, 2016
Avay Shukla retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December 2010. He is a keen environmentalist and loves the mountains.....he has made them his home