Millennium Post

Kejriwal's first mistake is costly

He took up an absolutely wrong cause and, worse still, to press unreasonable demands, he went on an uncalled for dharna just outside Parliament house, a high security zone. The protest saw four metro stationed closed down, traffic jams and colossal chaos that inconvenienced lakhs of people from office-goers to ordinary commuters.

Why, after all, Kejriwal has to take this unwarranted action and take to streets, observe dharna in open and also sleep on the road? Evidently, he wanted to become more popular with the people so that he can make a mark in the coming Lok Sabha elections. He wanted to invite dismissal or withdrawal of support by the Congress so that he can go to general elections as a martyr. His plan backfired and, instead of getting support and sympathy, he drew people’s ire because of the hardship they had to undergo following disruption of traffic. You had   only to walk in the vicinity of the Rail Bhavan or Parliament house and you can hear the people cursing the Delhi’s chief minister, calling him names. This was in sharp contrast to assembly elections in Delhi when the name Kejriwal was on the people’s lips and they would not like to hear a word against him.

The Congress, on its part, has shrewdly offered outside support to the AAP. The party has given Kejriwal a long rope and the moment his popularity graph slows down, the Congress leaders will brook no delay in pulling the rug from under his feet. This is the first mistake Kejriwal has made and its fall out is for everyone to see. One hopes that he does not make similar bloomers.

He conveniently forgot that Indian laws do not permit arbitrary search and seizure, especially involving women in the dead of the night. Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti, who is an advocate, and practiced in High Court as well as the Supreme Court, demonstrated astonishing ignorance of the fact that the law on immoral trafficking aims to rescue and protect victims of trafficking, and not to capture them.

Delhi police were right in disobeying illegal orders and Bharti wrong in giving the police the orders to raid people’s home without warrants and on the basis of false information, as it turned out. A judicial inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the facts. But the Aam Aadmi Party leaders seemed impatient to have policemen punished without waiting for inquiry findings.

Contrary to expectations, the AAP has now decided to let off controversial law minister with a rap to desist from using distasteful language. The top leadership of the AAP thought it better to wait for the judicial verdict before contemplating any action against Bharti. The leadership conveniently ignored the testimonies of the Ugandan women recorded before a magistrate and concerns expressed by women’s group, academicians and political parties.

The police officials were asked to go on leave because it was thought they may interfere with the investigation into Bharti’s conduct. By that logic Bharti must also not continue as law minister. How can one demand suspension of junior police officers without suspending law minister at the same time? If police can influence witnesses so can Bharti who has greater powers.

If the AAP wants to repair the damage to its own image, and if its ambition to mature into a responsible alternative has to be achieved, the chief minister must ask Bharti to resign forthwith. He personifies the contempt the new party has displayed towards due process and has become a serious liability for the government.

Kejriwal sought to give veneer of a political legitimacy to his absurd drama by raising the larger demand that the Delhi police, now under union home ministry, be made accountable to Delhi government, as he wants to ensure better security for the people. In spite of all the mistakes and miscalculations the AAP has achieved two things.

One, the Centre has learnt that it can’t take Kejriwal lightly next time, if there is a just and reasonable demand. The centre cannot go back to old ways of forming committees whenever there is a dispute or demand, which take so long in tabling reports that everybody forgets about the original event by that time.

The second achievement is that the Delhi police will be on its toes now. They will move fast next time, they get a complaint from an ordinary man. Earlier, the police swung into action if they received a call from a VIP; it may not be so now.


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