Time to deliver—AAP
Overcoming conflicts and delivering promised services to Delhi’s people speak of AAP’s resilience in the face of adversity
Conflict has never spared Aam Admi Party. From the time AAP came into existence, emerging from the India Against Corruption movement, conflicts have obstructed the party's functioning. The disputes have not been only with external functionaries; the party also has a history of internal conflicts. However, the most significant conflict which the party encounters frequently has been with the Centre-appointed Lieutenant Governor and the bureaucrats. The historic Supreme Court judgment of July 4 has now lent some clarity to the powers of the LG and the elected government. A five-judge Constitution bench, in a unanimous verdict, on Wednesday, held that though Delhi cannot be accorded the status of a state, the LG has no power to independently make decisions and must act on the aid and advice of the elected government.
The Supreme Court's Wednesday verdict has made three very important deviations from the Delhi High Court judgment of August 2016. It has dispelled the idea that the elected government has to wait to implement its decisions until the LG acquiesces. More specifically, the advice given by the Council of Ministers is binding on the LG. But, only as long as the LG does not exercise his Constitutional power to differ and refer the matter to the President for a decision. Although it has been emphasised that this power is not to be exercised perfunctorily, anything of sensitivity or that can cast a financial burden beyond the government's capacity, or which can cause friction with the Centre or other states will fall in this jurisdiction. This, in reality, covers several aspects.
After this positive judgment from the Supreme Court, AAP should have started preparations to complete their pending work but the first thing they did was to crack a whip on the officials by issuing a notification. Hours after Supreme Court's landmark judgment on Wednesday, Delhi government introduced a new system for the transfer and posting of bureaucrats, making Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal the approving authority. However, the services department refused to comply, stating that the Supreme Court did not abolish the notification issued in 2016 which made the Ministry of Home Affairs the authority for transfer and posting.
The tussle between Delhi government and the Central government continues even after the Supreme Court judgment, which clipped the powers of the LG. It said that he (LG) has no "independent decision-making power" and must act on the aid and advice of the elected government. Now, the Delhi government has the single option to resolve this situation by again moving an application to the Apex Court before a Constitutional bench. Delhi government and AAP have nearly two years left and after this judgment, the party should now avoid any possible conflict and begin working relentlessly on the stalled projects. Now, if the service department stays with the LG, then the conflict will never end within the Delhi government. The Ministry of Home Affairs has not yet made any decision on the service department yet and has reserved it for later.
This is also a time when AAP should start a dialogue with respective stakeholders like the LG, senior officials, and others regarding various pending matters. There cannot be a system with room for conflict at every step and conflict cannot be the way of governance. AAP has gained some comfort with these conflicts and there is a tendency within the party to give in to skirmishes at the drop of a hat. The LG, officials, and the government should work in harmony – as was also reiterated by the SC judgment. The method by which conflicts are created by the stakeholders and the way such conflicts are dealt with by AAP are both dangerous for a federal democracy.
When Arvind Kejriwal became Chief Minister of Delhi, the people had great expectations. A party which fought corruption, a party which questioned the people in power, a party which decimated Congress, and a party which put forward dreams of a corruption-free India to the people has now become a party which can speak at length but cannot fructify its promises due to the many conflicts.
Arvind Kejriwal was more than a mere politician for the people of Delhi -- he was "hope". We do not like to see our heroes drown out in the tumult of conflicts. We want them to either move on or fight back. We never like our heroes defeated and whimpering. We never like our heroes succumbing in the hands of "bad people". Arvind Kejriwal, if he is that hero, should turn around and deliver. Because it is high time.
On various occasions, it has been proven that Arvind Kejriwal still engages massive support from the people in Delhi. The Supreme Court has clearly said that the LG should not interfere in their work and this is the best opportunity for AAP to prove its credibility, manpower, and willpower.
(The author is Correspondent with Millennium Post. Views expressed are strictly personal)