Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is either being extremely naïve or needlessly combative. Both are not sterling virtues in a person in charge of an unwieldy and complex state like the Capital.
After his belligerent law minister Somnath Bharti and women and child welfare minister Rakhi Birla had run-ins with the police, Mr Kejriwal has decided not to wait for the results of the probe instituted by the Union home ministry and decided to force Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s hand and get the policemen in question suspended.
To this end, Mr Kejriwal has taken it upon himself to sit in dharna and give fiery speeches pillorying the Centre. Now, one could legitimately ask whether the government has to come to a standstill in Delhi so that the egos of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ministers can be soothed. Does Mr Kejriwal, as chief minister, not have other onerous duties to attend to more than getting a few policemen suspended? His dharna in a public place has thrown traffic out of kilter. The Rapid Action Force had to be called in when the crowd got unruly.
Mr Kejriwal cannot be unaware that his government, though extremely popular at present, is in power because of Congress support. This makes it awkward for the Congress when it finds the chief minister trying to take on its home minister. If Mr Kejriwal and his ministers continue like this, many will wonder whether they will ever be able to make the transition from activists to elected representatives.
The police force may come under the Union home ministry, but there is no way that AAP can govern Delhi without the cooperation of the police. Delhi is an unsafe city, especially for women, and the police cannot be alienated to assuage the feelings of a minister or two. These issues should be sorted out by Mr Kejriwal with the Union home minister and every confrontation cannot lead to a street protest. Mr Kejriwal’s assertion that there is no need to wait for a probe sounds positively anarchic.
The Congress is admittedly in a weak position in Delhi, but it is still crucial for AAP to remain in power. Therefore, attempts should be made to settle the issue instead of escalating it. Mr Kejriwal no doubt means well, but by doing what he is doing, he is encouraging others to do the same.
Already, he has been a victim of street politics when the dubious Hindu Raksha Dal attacked his car in protest against the remarks made by his party member Prashant Bhushan on a referendum in Kashmir. This sort of trend could lead to a free-for-all. This means that the much-awaited good governance that AAP promised will be put on the backburner for the foreseeable future.