The tiresome squabbling between the lieutenant governor and the Delhi government seems to be playing out on a loop. No sooner does one controversy subside than another takes its place. The latest is the issue of the chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW). The chief minister’s appointee, Swati Maliwal, is apparently not acceptable to the LG, whose permission was not sought beforehand. This is a great pity because the plight of women in the Capital has worsened by the day. Incidents of harassment and rape are on the rise and it is imperative that victims have some forum in addition to the police and the courts to turn to. In a recent case of alleged harassment by a leader of AAP, the DCW took up his wife’s complaint. The AAP government has in fact called a special session to discuss the issues of women’s safety, the low point of which recently was the daylight murder of a young woman by her stalkers.
Mr Kejriwal had sought a list of crimes against women and action taken from the police commissioner, only to be refused the information. Tensions between AAP supporters and the Delhi police have become so ugly that it recently took the form of a violent brawl on the streets.
Five months after the AAP government assumed office, the problems that the Capital faces remain unresolved. The spat between the CM and the LG has now become routine, as a result of which there appears to be gridlock in governance. The AAP government continues to chart its own course and the LG also seems in no mood to concede any ground. In fact, the CM has gone so far as to call the LG an agent of the BJP. The people of Delhi, who gave AAP an overwhelming mandate, certainly did not sign up for this. True, there have been tensions in the past between the LG and the CM but there has to be a way around some of the sticking points. The AAP government cannot get away with inaction on the grounds that it is being stymied by the LG for much longer. Neither is likely to get the better of the other.
The governance of Delhi is made very difficult by the multiplicity of authorities reporting to various people. But, issues like women’s safety cannot be put on hold until the two sort out their problems. The LG and CM need to sit down, preferably away from the public glare, and work out at least some of the areas in which they find common ground. This would be at least one step towards governance, which has been sorely lacking all these months.