Delhi govt just in name

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RAM VARMA

THE scary and sor­did episode of Delhi Chief Sec­re­tary An­shu Prakash be­ing sub­jected to phys­i­cal vi­o­lence in Chief Min­is­ter Arvind Ke­jri­wal’s of­fice at the omi­nous hour of mid­night on Fe­bru­ary 19 is shock­ing and scan­dalous be­yond be­lief. He was called by the Chief Min­is­ter at that un­earthly hour pur­port­edly in a mat­ter of earth­shak­ing im­por­tance, namely, is­su­ing full-page sup­ple­ments to news­pa­pers on com­ple­tion of glo­ri­ous three years of Ke­jri­wal gov­ern­ment! The sleep-dis­turbed head of the State bu­reau­cracy en­tered the CM of­fice blink­ing. He was made to sit be­tween two burly, volatile leg­is­la­tors. He had no clue why he had been sum­moned at the

dead of night. He had no no­tion what dire emer­gency had ne­ces­si­tated his be­ing pulled out of bed. The Chief Min­is­ter came straight to the point and ques­tioned him why the news­pa­per sup­ple­ments had not been is­sued. The Chief Sec­re­tary was be­fud­dled by the ques­tion. The is­sue of plac­ing sup­ple­ments in news­pa­pers wasn’t of such im­port as to be on his fin­ger­tips. As a sea­soned bu­reau­crat he prob­a­bly replied: ‘I would have to check it up, Sir.’ His re­ply made the two bullish law­mak­ers, en­sconced on his both sides, lose their tem­per. The spe­cial sup­ple­ments were to cel­e­brate the com­ple­tion of three years by the present gov­ern­ment and had to ap­pear the next day. ‘But when will you check it up?’ they shouted at him. ‘The sup­ple­ments had to reach the news­pa­pers to­day so as to ap­pear in the morn­ing!’ In­stantly they pounced on the un­wary chief sec­re­tary, caught him by the col­lar and mer­ci­lessly rained fisticuffs on him! The Chief Min­is­ter re­mained a mute wit­ness to this hor­ri­ble out­rage. I wasn’t present there, of course, and have only put two and two to­gether from press re­ports. Prob­a­bly the file was stuck in the of­fice of the di­rec­tor of in­for­ma­tion and pub­lic­ity, who is under the ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol of the Chief Sec­re­tary. And when the promised full­page ads did not reach the news­pa­pers, some­one rang up the CM’s of­fice about it at 11 p.m., adding that it was too late now as the city edi­tion was now go­ing to the press. CM’s staff told Ke­jri­wal about it and he felt in­censed and in­stantly called the Chief Sec­re­tary from his house for an ex­pla­na­tion of this grave lapse. For Ke­jri­wal it was a mat­ter of great im­por­tance. Prob­a­bly no one reads the spe­cial sup­ple­ments, but they are an ac­cepted means of high­light­ing the achieve­ments of gov­ern­ment. He sus­pected sab­o­tage. His gov­ern­ment was a thorn in the flesh of the BJP gov­ern­ment at the Cen­tre and right from the start of his sec­ond in­nings as Chief Min­is­ter he had felt that he wasn’t get­ting full co­op­er­a­tion from the bu­reau­cracy, pos­si­bly at Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s be­hest. The Lt. Gover­nor, he felt, was putting spokes in the func­tion­ing of his gov­ern­ment and the Chief Sec­re­tary too had prob­a­bly taken the cue from him.

IN­DEED the Delhi gov­ern­ment, as con­sti­tuted at present, is in­her­ently anachro­nis­tic. Have you ever heard of a ‘ gov­ern­ment’ which has no po­lice force under its con­trol? The Lt. Gover­nor of Delhi, a Gov­ern­ment of In­dia of­fi­cer, con­trols the po­lice, not the demo­crat­i­cally elected Chief Min­is­ter! The Delhi gov­ern­ment has no con­trol over the ter­ri­tory. The most im­por­tant pub­lic func­tion of land de­vel­op­ment and hous­ing is in the do­main of the Delhi De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity, which is also di­rectly con­trolled by the real boss of Delhi—the LG. Call­ing it a gov­ern­ment is a trav­esty of terms. The two ba­sic fea­tures that de­fine a gov­ern­ment are con­trol of law and or­der and ter­ri­tory. The Delhi gov­ern­ment is bereft of both. It’s not a gov­ern­ment in its true sense, just a mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tion, as it used to be des­ig­nated for­merly. In­deed, of­fi­cially Delhi is a Union Ter­ri­tory like Chandi­garh, which is ad­min­is­tered by cen­tral gov­ern­ment of­fi­cers. There is no di­chotomy. There is noth­ing like a ‘Chandi­garh gov­ern­ment’ with a Chief Min­is­ter, just a mu­nic­i­pal

cor­po­ra­tion with a Mayor. The present model works only when there is syn­chronic­ity in the com­plex­ion of the cen­tral and Delhi gov­ern­ments. Be­fore the ac­ces­sion of the BJP leader Naren­dra Modi at the Cen­tre and the cap­ture of Delhi gov­ern­ment by Aam Admi Party leader Arvind Ke­jri­wal, the Congress party held sway at both places and all was hunky-dory. The Lt. Gover­nor was def­er­en­tial to Congress Chief Min­is­ter Shiela Dik­shit, not ad­ver­sar­ial. He could never think of be­ing an­tag­o­nis­tic to­wards her. Ar­rest of the mem­bers of the Delhi Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly by the po­lice was un­heard of then. Now the MLAs are the prime tar­get of Delhi Po­lice!

BUT con­sider this. We have pat­terned our Con­sti­tu­tion broadly on the Bri­tish model. But in Eng­land the Mayor of Lon­don con­trols polic­ing and crime. The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice is under him, not the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment. Besides, un­like the Delhi Chief Min­is­ter, who is un­rea­son­ably de­nied the con­trol of the Delhi De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity, the Mayor of Lon­don also con­trols hous­ing and land, along with all other depart­ments like health, busi­ness and econ­omy, ed­u­ca­tion and youth, en­v­i­ron- ment, trans­port, etc. It would be more ra­tio­nal to carve out a core area out of New Delhi, com­pris­ing the Rash­tra­p­ati Bhawan, the of­fices of Cen­tral gov­ern­ment min­istries and res­i­den­tial ar­eas of min­is­ters and high of­fi­cials, and des­ig­nate that core area as a Union Ter­ri­tory, gov­erned by the cen­tral gov­ern­ment. The rest of Delhi should be left to be gov­erned by the pop­u­larly elected Delhi gov­ern­ment. It would then be a gov­ern­ment in its true sense and would be able to ful­fill the as­pi­ra­tions of the peo­ple who elect it. We pride our­selves by call­ing our coun­try the largest func­tion­ing democ­racy in the world. How­ever, John Ken­neth Gal­braith, the U.S. en­voy, who was a per­cep­tive ob­server of the world scene, had called In­dia the largest ‘func­tion­ing an­ar­chy’. His de­scrip­tion fully fits the present Delhi gov­ern­ment. (writer is a for­mer Chief Sec­re­tary Haryana)

The Lt. Gover­nor of Delhi… con­trols the po­lice, not the demo­crat­i­cally elected Chief Min­is­ter!.. The most im­por­tant pub­lic func­tion of land de­vel­op­ment and hous­ing is in the do­main of the Delhi De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity, which is also di­rectly con­trolled by the LG

An­shu Prakash

Anil Bai­jal and Arvind Ke­jri­wal

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