NEW DELHI: It was on Valentine’s Day this year that Arvind Kejriwal took oath with an overwhelming mandate of 67 MLAs in a house of 70. But what should have been a prolonged honeymoon has turned out to be a troubled marriage as his government completes hundred days this Sunday. From dousing the fire within his own party to stoking a confrontation with the Centre (read LG), the CM has followed an agenda that has kept the pot boiling.
He is the angry young man in the Amitabh mould. He has taken on the BJP-ruled corporations and Delhi Police in asserting his historic mandate and pushing his demand for full statehood. The media, he rages, has got a `supari’ or contract to kill his government. He has, however, taken care to keep his core constituency happy with slashed bills, subsidies and even with questionable decisions like giving the autorickshaws a virtual free run of the city.
The corrupt have also been reined in somewhat, a hallmark of his previous stint too. The aam aadmi government got cocooned in the secretariat quite early, trying to keep away nosey journalists.Its intolerance of any criticism has put it at odds with the very media which had once championed the party’s ioned the party’s cause. In fact, the media has been condemned and sentenced. The chief minister, who is without a portfolio and working for “systemic change”, stays away from the limelight, leaving his deputy , Manish Sisodia, to field questions. He is, how ever, spotted at the Janata Durbars at his Civil Lines house. Ironically, for a party like AAP or what it had portrayed itself to be, Kejriwal is the high command.
AAP’s delivery on its 70-point agenda in these 100 days is a matter of process and still waiting outcomes. While there are meetings and plans in process, these are mostly welfare and relief measures like subsidized power and compensations. Even the budget consulta tions with people got a lukewarm response. The middle class is once again feeling disconnected. The city’s transport system and roads are in a shambles, no major infrastructure project has been announced, and major decisions, like scrapping the BRT, are forever pending.
While the promise of bring ing down power tariff will have to wait till the CAG audit of discoms is over, a subsidy has been introduced. The government is also giving every home a monthly quota of 700 litres of free water.
To fight corruption – while the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) is under revamp – Kejriwal armed the common man with a helpline, 1031, on which people can complain about officers taking bribes, give evidence and seek action. However, the issue that became controversial in the 49 days of AAP – Jan Lokpal Bill – is under careful scrutiny this time. The chief minister said recently it will be first sent to the Centre for its views and then table it in the Delhi assembly .
This is likely to be another flashpoint.
Kejriwal’s political focus is on re-defining Centre-state relations. The battle for full statehood is now full blown with the Centre coming out with a notification that overrules Kejriwal’s writ in favour of LG and goes a step ahead to prevent the ACB from acting against any official – from the IAS to DANICS and the cops. This could be the beginning of another confrontation with the Centre.
Kejriwal had taken over on February 14 as CM on a non-confrontationist note, promising “systemic change, good governance and cooperation with the Centre” to all those who felt betrayed by the chaotic protests of those 49 days of AAP . He had made the point even in a preelection interview with TOI. Peace did not prevail for long. The CM, in his first assembly session in February , raised the demand for full statehood and gradually entered into a full-fledged battle, throwing his interpretation of the law at Delhi Police, LG and then the Centre through letters to the union home minister and a letter to prime minister Narendra Modi whom he has repeatedly accused of “trying to run the city directly through LG”.
The matter finally landed at the doorstep of the President. Now, with the Centre choosing to re ject Kejriwal’s interpretation of the Constitution, the issue is far from settled.