Even by the benighted standards of the Tughlaq-ian Theatre of the Absurd that passes for durbar politics in Delhi, the goings-on in the national capital stretch the limits of credulity — and of the spirit of the Constitution. The Delhi Chief Minister and his colleagues are on a sit-in protest at the residence of the territory’s Lieutenant-Governor to demand his intervention to resolve what Kejriwal claims is a “strike” by IAS officers.
The babu brigade denies it is on strike, but admits to being part of what is at least a ‘non-cooperation campaign’: by not attending meetings convened by Ministers, for instance. The bureaucrats claim they feel vulnerable in the absence of Ministerial assurances of their safety; this is in the context of the February 20 assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash by MLAs of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party, in the presence of the Chief Minister!
Nobody emerges from this feud with their reputation intact. In the few years that Kejriwal has been in politics, and even after he came to power in Delhi in 2015 with a thunderous majority, he has demonstrated a passion for street-level agitational theatrics that far exceeds his interest in providing good governance. On the other hand, the BJP, which heads the ruling coalition at the Centre, too has played fast and loose with Constitutional proprieties, using the Lieutenant-General’s office to impede the Delhi government’s functioning. It is this cussed pettiness in disallowing an elected government to function by leveraging Delhi’s nebulous identity that is at the core of the Constitutional crisis that grips the territory today. The extraordinary sight of four non-BJP/non-Congress Chief Ministers addressing a press conference on Saturday to express solidarity with Kejriwal is driven by this perceived assault on the country’s federal structure.
Kejriwal may be a showboat Chief Minister, but a democratic judgment on his record in office must be left to the court of public opinion, not usurped by unelected gubernatorial officials.