King in the North
With the rule of the present dispensation, philosophies of fundamentalism and federalism have become far more embedded in societal consciousness. While 2017, with a splurge in hate crimes, witnessed angry chants against fundamentalism echoing through the streets; this year, with the Lok Sabha elections right down the alley, opposition states fearing their agency slipping out of recognition have raised repeated slogans seeking to promote cooperative federalism – a practice, in their perspective, which is quickly dissipating with the Centre's restriction on the autonomous purview of states. While Mamata Banerjee, in the East, has long spoken against the Centre's hegemony, Arvind Kejriwal in the northwest has witnessed the brutal backlash of being in conflict with a spiteful Centre that has, allegedly, reduced its capacity to work for the betterment of Delhi. The Delhi CM has been protesting at the Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal's residence since the last eight days, complaining against the logjam with the bureaucracy which has proved to be detrimental to the AAP's policy execution. Since a supposed physical altercation with Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash at Kejriwal's residence on February 19, IAS officers of Delhi government have been staging a passive non-cooperation movement, rarely progressing developmental projects authorised by the AAP government – claim Arvind Kejriwal & Co. Given the proximity of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, where the opposition parties are touted to stage a grand alliance, this protest of Kejriwal has naturally attracted national attention. With TMC, JD(S), TDP, CPI(M) extending their support to Kejriwal at the NITI Aayog meeting on Sunday, Kejriwal's resistance has been fuelled. The immediate demand has been to draw the Prime Minister's attention to the crisis in the national capital, hoping that his intervention would ultimately lead to a resolution. In this unity of opposition leaders who have come out in support of the 'aam aadmi' Kejriwal, the Congress has been caught on a tightrope. While the Congress forms the pivot of an oppositional alliance entering the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, more immediately, in the perspective of Delhi, AAP has been its arch nemesis. Despite the devastating loss to Kejriwal in 2014, the Congress must brush aside its sense of self-worth to lend credibility to AAP in Delhi. With these conflicting dynamics, only BJP is set to derive a victory. If Congress dissipates from the oppositional alliance, BJP would be in a more secure position entering 2019. While AAP has opened roads for political parties to forge alliances and stake claims prior to 2019, it has also complicated matters for Congress, which is torn between recoursing to personal political affiliation and relying on a national united political agenda. For now though, before 2019, the Delhi roadblock must be overcome, beginning from arriving at a coherent conclusion on Delhi's ultimate constitutional status. Once its space is defined, only then can we arrive at a conclusion on who reigns the coveted north.