Delhi: The faultlines under Raisina Hills will be stirring soon

Delhi Chief Minister’s historic dharna against the Centre’s representative had won him support from Opposition leaders around the country

Photo courtesy: PTI
Photo courtesy: PTI
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NH Web Desk

On Monday June 18, the Delhi High Court listened to two petitions: one against the alleged strike by the IAS officials of Delhi, and another against the sit-in by the Aam Admi Party (AAP) led by the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to protest the strike at the Delhi Lt Governor’s residence. The Court asked the Aam Admi Party who had authorised the dharna at the Lt Governor’s residence that began on June 11 and was still on? As for the second petition, the Central government told the court that there was no strike. This was confirmed by the IAS officials’ representatives at a press conference they held at the PIB.

A thousand years ago, the Yakshini Ulook Mekhala had already warned travellers to Delhi (then Indraprastha), that this city was tricky and unstable. Do not spend the night here, she said, because what happens here in day time may well be subverted by night. To understand the strange dynamics that create such a volatile surface here, one must like a geologist, dig deep.

And if one does that, one discovers millennia-old fault lines that run underneath this city plundered by power seekers and rebuilt at least nine times. Over the years, for various reasons, the national capital has come to have a power structure guaranteed to create instability and friction between the legitimately-elected leadership and the Lt Governor who is nominated by the Central government. Since all the India service officials and police in Delhi have been firmly put under the control of the Lt Governor, not the Chief Minister and his cabinet, and since the volatile Chief Minister will frequently grab headlines by crying foul at the dismissal of his proposals by the Lt Governor, a farcical deadlock has developed today between the state and the Centre.

This is causing concern not only to the citizens reeling against an exceptionally hot summer and shortages, but also causing consternation among other Chief Ministers who, like the AAP, are not part of the ruling coalition at the Centre. The fact is, a consistent state policy towards the government of Delhi state has never been developed by the Centre. Due to this there have been recurring confrontations each time the state votes in a government that is opposed to the ruling Party at the Centre.

For a whole week, as neither the Lt Governor nor the Central government indicated a serious desire to sit down and resolve the problem through talks with Kejriwal and his men, media images of the CM, Arvind Kejriwal and his fellow cabinet members lying listlessly in the visitors’ room at the Lt Governor’s residence, began to evoke not so much anger but a sort of grudging admiration for the sheer obduracy of a little David standing up to some Goliath. Of course, the men on dharna were in no hurry to depart while this mood lasted.

After nine days, some reassuring gestures were made by both sides, the siege was lifted but not before the Delhi Chief Minister’s historic dharna against the Centre’s representative had won him a national bonding with Opposition leaders like Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal, the newly-elected CM of Karnataka HD Kumaraswamy, Kerala’s avuncular leader P Vijayan and last but not the least Chandrababu Naidu, CM of Andhra Pradesh, who walked out of the coalition ruling at the Centre.

So, once again, the immediate chasm of trust has been papered over with a sort of political jugaad, but given Delhi’s tectonic history, it ain’t over yet. So long as the fault lines created by basic power imbalances and disaffection between the state and the Centre remain in the nation’s capital, political parties will need to secure their proverbial crockery and keep the exit signs lit clearly. The general elections being just a year away, one may be sure as another crisis raises its head, the age-old fault lines that run from the Raisina Hills through to Kurukshetra, will be stirring again.

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