Millennium Post

Power plays in Delhi

Delhi is becoming a happening city. A city known for its unique characteristics, is also becoming host to various demonstrations, rallies, conferences, seminars and other events, may these be small, large, important or of routine nature. Apart from this, the city is also famous for its fertile ambience conducive to display of different political punches and for its capacity to assemble the largest crowd with an aim to establish ones political supremacy over others. Delhi is the only city in the country where it has become a child’s play to make an issue out of a non-issue. One may come across the so called professional consultants having pocket full of readymade, well-conceived issues, attractive as well as inflammable enough to befool ordinary people. No doubt, this is a general perception. There ought to be a few serious issues deserving to be the fittest turf for any agitation, movement or campaign of constructive of destructive nature.

Delhi being a politically conscious city right from the days of the freedom struggle has proved to be a centre of most of the political, social and religious movements. The venues kept changing due to certain restrictions keeping in view the security, traffic and other related aspects. The most favourite venue was Boat Club and thereafter Ramlilla Maidan, Jantar Mantar and Nirankari grounds. It is a historical fact that every time when the power rates witnessed a northward trend, the so-called social activists and politicians exploited it to their utmost need to invoke people participation in one or the other manner.

The recent hike in power rates resulted in a clash between a political party in general and a former union minister belonging to the same party in particular and a new group of activists of the Anna brand, aspiring to become the 3rd relevant political party in the capital city. It is a well-known conclusion that all the earlier efforts to create the third force yielded no results. It is yet to be seen whether the so-called sympathisers of the power customers would be able to clear the litmus test of longevity and relevance.

It was interesting to watch the role and modus operandi of the two groups gathered in the office of the power regulator, Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission [DERC], at the time of the scheduled public hearing on the power rates. It is an accepted fact that a group led by a former union minister is the oldest player in this power play as he has been highlighting the issue on the forums other than his party programmes. He was forced to follow the tactics of the activists belonging to India Against Corruption [IAC] as the former union minister adorned a black cap with
Bijli Andolan
inscripted on it to give the fittest reply to other group’s white cap inscripted with Main Aam Aadmi Hun. The IAC group, probably is not exclusively working against the corruption but has started against the establishment, snatched the turf of protest from the other group. Both the groups avoided making forceful pleas against the power hike. It looked as if they are not at all serious about the issue, in fact, their only aim was to demonstrate each other in the ongoing power play.

The sense of power plays in cricket, meant to reinforce efforts in achieving their respective goals, was also sincerely imbibed by both the groups as they not only made bondage of the DERC chairman, supposed to give a patient hearing to the pleas of both the groups and others on the hiked rates, but also went ahead to display their tears to get sympathies of the customers who have been keeping themselves aloof from the clash of two titans in the power play. This highlighted the non-serious approach of both the groups. The aim of the groups was to snatch coverage of the electronic media and still photographers by creating high pitch ruckus and changing the colours of the caps. One is not going to believe that the efforts of IAC group led by Arvind Kejriwal are apolitical as the initiative by the then power player Sanjay Kaul in 2006-2007 turned out to be political with his joining a political party – Bharatiya Janata Party.

The ongoing power play is political as well as aimed to ensure the desired results of both the groups. They have started blaming each other as an agent of one or another political party. Not only this, they are also alleging each other of being the ‘B’ team of one or another political party. This not only reflects their helplessness in deriving their political mileage out of their ill-conceived ventures but also of their losing grips on the power customers who have been ignoring their calls of not making payment of electricity bills.

The earlier power plays during 2005, 2006-2007 and 2011 on the fast running metres and the hike in rates though drew attention of people and headlines in the papers but could not leave any impact as the so-called leaders started losing their shine because of lukewarm response by the customers.  

Satpal is an information officer with the Delhi government.
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