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Arvind Kejriwal will go down in history as only CM who went against his own officers

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Kejriwal’s dharna politics is taking a toll on the people of Delhi who believed in his poll promises and voted overwhelmingly for his Aam Aadmi Party.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is not new to dramatics. And this is certainly not the first time that he was sitting, or at times sleeping, on the sofa in protest, or what is popularly called dharna politics.

The Sanskrit word dharna (to hold, in this context it would mean to hold on to some demand until fulfilled) was reportedly and ironically used first in Pakistan around 1958 by Abdul Qayyum Khan against the then prime minister Feroze Khan. The word has travelled far and wide since, from the Communist trade union movement to the then Jan Sangh using it against Indira Gandhi.

Kejriwal, a former IRS officer, reportedly remained posted in the Delhi circle as long as he was in service, went on a long leave, took part in agitations, floated NGOs and seldom reported to work, but allegedly continued to draw salary.

Now, he has accused his own IAS officers in the Delhi bureaucracy of not working, going on strike and drawing salary.

As he embarks on yet another long innings of protest, this time from the office of the Lieutenant Governor, Kejriwal will be the only chief minister to go down in the history as one who went against his own officers, sat on a protest against his own government and never completed any responsibility that he undertook.

Kejriwal’s dharna politics is taking a toll on the people of Delhi who believed in his poll promises and voted overwhelmingly for his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Jumping ships

The NDA government in 2002 enacted the Freedom of Information Act. This Act had all the provisions that were required for seeking information. After 2004 elections, the UPA government set up an extra- constitutional body called the National Advisory Council under the chairmanship of Sonia Gandhi.

This group purportedly wanted to appropriate credit for freedom of information and floated the idea of Right to Information, the now famous RTI. Kejriwal jumped into this bandwagon and shot to fame as the man behind the idea. Half way through, he jettisoned this and was believed to have joined another upcoming leader Baba Ramdev, who floated an outfit called Bharat Swabhiman.

Soon, he left this outfit and as luck would have it, Anna Hazare started a campaign against corruption. Kejriwal jumped into the Hazare bandwagon and became the leader of India Against Corruption movement.

Kejriwal jettisoned this group too. Hazare was against political parties and strongly advised his followers to stay away from politics. The proposition, perhaps, did not suit Kejriwal. By this time, he had earned enough name, fame and also money.

The Ford Foundation, working on a budget of about $15 million, was involved in providing huge donations to institutions, think-tanks and civil society. One such institution, NGO Kabir, which was floated and run by Manish Sisodia and Kejriwal, got about $400,000 between 2005 and 2010.

Abdicating responsibility

In keeping with his tradition of not completing any responsibility, Kejriwal has now embarked on his next drama. As chief minister, he once sat on a dharna against the UPA government in January 2014. Subsequently, he began his rants and complaints against the Modi government.

The demand for control over Delhi Police and statehood for Delhi – made by Kejriwal and his predecessors – were considered and rejected on valid grounds by previous governments at the Centre, including Manmohan Singh-led UPA.

The BJP and Congress chief ministers in Delhi during the last two decades did not launch a direct confrontation with the Union government over the issue. They all had their share of disagreements with the Centre but continued doing their work – Sheila Dikshit being a case in point.

Kejriwal’s blatant lie that IAS officers were striking work was exposed when their representatives held a press conference and blew the lid off the canard. It is unfortunate that an elected chief minister is seemingly more concerned with promoting his self-image and positioning himself as a leader of the so-called third front rather than earning merit through good work.

Some of the chief minsters and non-Congress, non-BJP leaders, who are at the forefront of forming a third front, are at least leaders with proven track record in their respective states. One may have differences of opinion with them over their ideology, but none of them can be accused of hitting a new low with theatrics.

One can only hope that these leaders see through the dharna politics of Kejriwal.

The author is former editor of ‘Organiser’.

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  1. The biggest underworld mafia in this country is the Organisation of Government services. This mafia of services will suck out the last drop of blood from the citizenry of this country. The General election every 5 years gives us a new Alibaba while the chor remain in service.

    The new Alibaba needs the cooperation of the services and collaborates with the chor. Maharashtra irrigation scam is example. High Court was so angry that it said the BJP government which came to power in Maharashtra on the plank of irrigation scams has not even closed one enquiry in 4 years. Aravind Kejriwal is the only different CM not to collaborate with the mafia of government services.

  2. It’s been proved that the officers were not attending any meetings at all since Feb. Now I’m not a supporter of any party but such a sell out and misleading article is embarrassing

  3. FRom The Economist, June 21 2018

    Considering the way Delhi’s government is set up, it is a wonder that the city functions at all. Like India’s 29 states, Delhi is run by a government drawn from an elected assembly. In contrast to the states’, however, the powers it exercises are severely restricted. The unelected lieutenant-governor must sign off on nearly any appointment or expenditure. Delhi has no police force of its own: its finest answer not to any local official but directly to the national government. Unlike Indian states, Delhi cannot run its own civil service: the city’s administrators are appointed, transferred or sacked at the whim of the (national) home ministry. Yet the city government is expected to provide schools, health care, water, sewage and other services.

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    This unfair division has created trouble for decades. But the fallout has been limited because the party running the capital has often happened to be the same as the one in charge of the national government. For ten of the 15 years before the last election in Delhi, in 2015, for instance, the Congress party held sway in both.

    In that election, however, the Aam Aadmi party (AAP), an upstart anti-corruption group, swept out the Congress and all other rivals, capturing an unprecedented 67 of 70 seats in the Delhi assembly. An equally dramatic sweep the year before had seen the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) win power at the centre. The stage was set for a test of wills.

    The clash between the parties was not so obvious at first as the AAP, fired by reformist zeal, focused on local affairs. The party is widely acknowledged to have brought rapid improvements to local services. Delhi public schools now produce some of the country’s best exam results for state institutions. A network of local clinics for the poor has won praise as a model for public health. Ordinary Delhi-wallahs say petty corruption in services provided by the city has been drastically curtailed.

    But as the AAP and Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, showed growing ambitions in national rather than local politics, the BJP has grown more hostile. “Every instrument of central government control has been used against us,” says Atishi Marlena, a former adviser. “We are outsiders, we don’t represent business as usual, so they are determined to stop us.”

    Delhi police have routinely blocked AAP events, arrested its workers, and charged its members of the assembly with petty offences. The home ministry, say AAP supporters, has handicapped the city administration by serially declining to appoint bureaucrats to vacant posts, transferring those judged sympathetic to the AAP and installing BJP loyalists instead. Under the BJP the city’s lieutenant-governors have routinely cancelled appointments and vetoed proposals, even for projects vetted by the bureaucrats appointed by the home ministry.

    Ms Marlena, who claimed a token salary of just one rupee, was among nine experts dismissed in April on the grounds that the home ministry had not approved the creation of their posts, several of which had existed under previous governments. In another instance the lieutenant-governor cancelled a carefully conceived project to improve the distribution of medicines with the terse note, “I am not sure this is a good idea.”

  4. How can allow such trash to publish? Seshadriji-Even if we garee that all this was drama-Why LG did not meet very first day and agree to major demand for IAS strike if it was not there, He should called this Bluff and addressed Press conference on very first day instead of allowing Sitting in to continue for 9 days? Thora to dimag laga liya karo Bhai likhne se pehle.

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