In Delhi, the government is not the ruler but partner
After locking horns with the bureaucracy, the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is now targeting the LG and the PM but what can they do?
What is happening in Delhi is sheer politics. During the times of the British they use to say that bureaucracy is the steel frame of the government and nobody can calibrate the steel frame. Actually, bureaucracy runs the government whereas politicians come and go. In India, too, for the past seventy years, it is the bureaucracy that is running the government. Politicians cannot work without the bureaucracy but bureaucracy can certainly do without politicians.
In Delhi this steel frame is especially very strong. The Chief Minister’s fight is not against the bureaucracy alone. As on day, right from the lower staff to the chief secretary, everyone has problems with the present regime. The manhandling of the chief secretary at the Chief Minister’s house at midnight is not a small matter. The unfortunate part is that the Chief Minister has not expressed any regret. Following the incident, other senior officers are scared of attending meeting at odd hours or in presence of AAP MLAs.
One thing is clear. No government can run the show without the bureaucracy. After locking horns with the bureaucracy, the Chief Minister is now targeting the LG and the PM but what can they do? Bureaucracy is very well protected under the Article 309,10 and 11 of the Constitution which grants total protection to the bureaucrats. How can the Prime Minister or the LG ask the chief secretary or principal secretary to explain their conduct? It appears that because they have come to power through protests and agitations, it has become a part of their inbuilt character.
Another reason is that they have failed in governance and I can say this because I have seen the governance of four chief ministers. The major issue is that the present government does not have faith in the Constitution of India, they do not follow the conventions and precedence whether in the legislature or outside. They lack experience in governance and they are constitutionally illiterate. When they keep on harping that they are a state government, they should know that they are neither a government nor Delhi is a state.
Delhi is merely a territory of the Union. According to the Constitution, LG is the government in Delhi. Section 2 of every Bill the government introduces in Delhi Assembly states that the government means the LG of Delhi appointed by the Centre under Section 239 of the Constitution. LG is the administrator and the elected government is an advisor to the government because people have expressed faith in them. People have given them mandate not to rule or become Hukmaran but their role is that of Bhagidar. The problem is that the current government feels that they are the Hukmaran.
There is a misconception in the minds of the people too. They also feel that they are voting for a government because they compare Delhi to other states. The constitutional scheme is that this is the territory of the Government of India. Out of seven Union territories, in five there is no elected set up. The LG or the administrator is the sultan. First time in 1963, an experiment was made in Pondicherry when the Union government felt that the Lieutenant Governor should consult some elected members so that common people also get to participate in the government. On the same pattern, participation to people was given in Delhi as well and it worked very well with four chief ministers. During those periods, we never heard the word takrav. One can have differences of opinion but not takrav at each and every point. Sheila Dikshit was one of the best chief ministers and when she was in power, NDA was at the Centre but she never had this kind of a fight.
Another issue is that of statehood but I would say it is neither possible, nor desirable and it should not be considered. I can assure the readers that in no way statehood can be granted to Delhi, be it any government at the Centre.
(SK Sharma served as Secretary, Delhi Assembly, for ten years and has seen four chief ministers in action)