Ever since the Aam Admi Party rode to power in Delhi on Anna Hazare’s platform of clean politics, it has indulged in fights and recriminations with all and sundry. And, of course, freely misused taxpayers’ rupees to advertise its mostly non-existent achievements. And, we forget, after using Hazare, it has treated him like a non-person. Due to Arvind Kejriwal’s propensity not to work within the system, he has sought to grab more powers than the Constitution grants the Union Territory of Delhi.
When he had nothing to show by way of performance, he accused the Modi Government of obstruction and non-cooperation. Picking a fight for no particular reason became his calling card. He wanted the control of the Delhi Police, which is under the Union Home Ministry.
He wanted control over all-India services on the ground that these were located in the capital. He wanted power to undertake corruption charges against Class-I officers whether they were posted with the central or the UT government, arguing that as chief minister of Delhi he had control over them.
Above all, he wanted to launch investigations into corruption charges against prominent industrialists whether or not they were located in Delhi or Mumbai. In other words, he wanted his role expanded far beyond the boundaries delineated under the Constitution.
Eventually, when he found himself deterred in his bid to become the lord and master of all that he saw, the matter reached the courts. In July last year, the apex court defined the relationship between the Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor, a nominee of the Centre.
The court laid down broad parameters of the relationship, asking them to work in the spirit of ‘collaborative federalism’. The LG had jurisdiction over land, police and public order. This left Kejriwal seething, since he wanted to be all-in-all in Delhi, even though the court said that in most other matters the LG was to act on the aid and advice of the Delhi government. The Kejriwal government again appealed in the Supreme Court seeking a clear settlement of the question as to who controlled the services in Delhi — the central or the Delhi Government.
Last week, a division bench of the Supreme Court delivered a split verdict on the issue, with Justice A K Sikri ruling that officers below the rank of joint secretary would be controlled by the Delhi Government and those above by the Centre. Justice Ashok Bhushan held that all services are outside the purview of the Delhi Government. Lack of agreement between the two judges would result in the matter being settled by a three-member bench. On other issues, the judgment ordered in favour of the Centre on four particular powers.
The control of the Anti-Corruption Bureau would lie with the Centre, a power Kejriwal wanted desperately. The Centre would also have the power to post and transfer Grade I and II officers and to institute a commission of inquiry. The Delhi government could fix stamp duty rate, oversee electricity reforms and appoint public prosecutors of its choice.
Predictably, the AAP leadership was dissatisfied by the court decision and reacted angrily while the Delhi BJP expressed satisfaction. An AAP member of the Rajya Sabha was extremely critical of the apex court, accusing it of willful delay in settling the issue. This did not surprise anyone for it is in the DNA of Kejriwal to blame his tools rather than introspect on his own failures.
Having made tall promises such as a Lokayukta for Delhi , political donations only through cheques and putting up the names and addresses of the donors on the party’s website, modest houses for ministers, dispensing with a large posse of security men for ministers, etc, Kejriwal himself has broken every promise.
Today the party accepts black money, Kejriwal moves around in a big convoy of vehicles, no lokyukat has been appointed even after three years of power, corruption continues as before, and the only thing new is endless recriminations against the Centre and others.
Nonetheless, Kejriwal and ministers make tall claims about the Delhi Government’s performance through big advertisements in the media. On almost all parameters, the Shiela Government was ahead in infrastructure development though the AAP makes louder noises. In sum, Kejriwal is a trumpet that blows constantly without bothering to match his word with actions.