What’s Constitutional and what’s not…..

Posted: January 23, 2014 in Politics
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Funny isn’t it, that when Rahul Gandhi barges into a press conference and talks about tearing up and throwing away a government bill, some people are ready to kiss his feet. That’s not drama?

But when Arvind Kejriwal decides to stage a dharna outside Rail Bhavan for something that he knows his predecessor lost an election over, his effort is not just called a drama, but anarchic! When youngsters took to the streets of Delhi against the gang-rape of the medical student they too were called anarchic. When Hazare went on a fast at Ram Lila it was a couple of years ago, it was anarchic, when thousands turned up at the same ground in his support they were called anarchists – never mind if there were men and women with toddlers in their arms. We fawn over the Arab Spring movement and Occupy Wall Street which is also a street protest. It is ‘democracy in full flow’ when it happens there, but anarchy when it happens here?

Maybe what Kejriwal is doing is bizarre and outlandish, and drives people hysterical, but it is a more effective option than what Sheila Dikshit did – sat in her bungalow, passing the buck to the Delhi Police and the Centre, while young kids were being terrorised with water cannons and teargas in the national capital in December 2012. The thing is she had the ear of the two most powerful people in the country, the PM and Congress chief. But she was more interested in sucking up to them and feathering her nest. There’s no use telling people, “I gave you metros, infra etc” if you can’t provide something as basic as security. The issue about Delhi cops isn’t something that happened yesterday. It’s a constitutional provision that was put into place when Delhi got its limited statehood.

It’s not as if two law enforcement authorities don’t work anywhere in the country. The cantonments are a good example of how this system works efficiently. Similarly in Delhi, the reason given is that it is the capital city and it has too many diplomats, who need protection. So why can’t a section of the Delhi police do that, and who report only to the Centre, and not to the CM? The rest of the Delhi can be handed over to the State govt, can’t it? It was reported somewhere that what if Omar Abdullah demands the Army reports to him. Yes, what if Martians landed on Earth tomorrow and took over the world? The Army reports to the President, according to the very Constitution some people swear by. So let’s not obfuscate the issue with useless logic.

And this reason about what will happen if Pakistan decides to attack is just so much hogwash. To reach Delhi their conventional forces (army and air force) will first have to enter Punjab, J&K, Rajasthan etc. and that will happen only if and when our neighbours fire off a few nuclear-tipped ICBMs into Delhi and other cities and flatten them all. In such a situation, I don’t think the Delhi Police is going to be of much help, anyway! And I don’t think any country in its right senses will do what I imagined! If the Delhi Police is so super-efficient only because it reports to the Centre why have there been four major attacks and so many crimes in the Capital since the Parliament was attacked in 2001?

The truth is the bureaucrats in Delhi don’t want to give up control of the police otherwise they too will have to report to the State CM, which will diminish their importance. As mandarins of the Centre they enjoy a lot of perks which they might have to relinquish, including the swank homes they live in.

Everyone, including the ruling party and the saffron brigade, have their own reasons for not encouraging Kejriwal. The BJP fears he will split the votes and thereby ensure that their dear NaMo is denied The Chair that they all want him to occupy. That too I am willing to understand. The Congress plays its own double game of backing Kejriwal’s government, while at the same time rubbishing him in public. To the frontline political parties in the country, anything or anyone that steals the thunder from under their very noses, and shows them up for what they really are – hypocritical, self serving and insecure – is an anarchist.

However, have we tried to examine why someone like Anna Hazare or Arvind Kejriwal even appeared on the scene? How did he manage to tap into our anger and frustration about everything that was wrong with this country? The system was and is faulty, and we only scream ourselves hoarse or rant about it on social networking sites. Beyond that, we are happy if someone else takes the lead. Kejriwal did that, and until he decided to conduct a dharna he was everyone’s poster boy. Okay so he over-reached himself, but Kejriwal knew this was the only way to get the Centre to take notice. Even after that, have you seen their reaction? It’s usually ‘buzz off’ to anyone and everyone who has dared to question them. So while some may question Kejriwal’s methods, you have to ask what options he had left. What options, as a citizen, do you have when all avenues to get justice are closed?

People also talk about how he should go about it constitutionally. Fair enough. However, the fact is, the Constitution as envisaged by people like Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar has been twisted, ripped asunder and beaten out of shape by politicians who use it for their own survival and to promote themselves. And for those who say the system works, google some high-profile cases involving politicians which are dragging on in courts for the past few decades. Look at what’s happening in MGNREGA. Is it a system that works? You need to generate jobs for people, not just transfer money in their bank accounts to keep them happy, so they can get drunk at the nearest hooch shop or buy electronic goods. Now they are happy doing nothing because they know that every month government funds will get them their next drink and meal. So why should they work?

What politicians also need to accept is that this country isn’t what it was in 1947. Today we have the Internet which tells us how the rest of the world is progressing while we are still-stuck in the socialist rhetoric of the 196os and 1970s. And while people’s aspirations have also grown, normal things in their daily lives are beyond their reach. I am afraid that is not the kind of system our founding fathers had in mind when they gave us our Constitution. As George Orwell said in Animal Farm, ‘all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others!

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