A Kejriwal drama like no other

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he unseemly confrontation between Aam Aadmi Party’s Delhi government and Lt Governor Anil Baijal, widely seen fighting Modi government’s proxy war, cannot get any more murky. It has had all the ingredients of a third class Bollywood entertainer: stunt, court dramas, surrender before police, emotional blackmail, plots within plots and finally the comedy of a dharna, the type of which no one has seen before.

The unique protest by Kejriwal and two of his cabinet colleagues in the LG’s office has entered the third day and the protestors are showing no signs of weariness. The curious picture of the threesome spending the night sleeping on the sofas in the reception area of Raj Bhavan will remain etched in memory for a long time to come. Arvind Kejriwal, who is used to sleeping on the road to register his protests, must be finding the sofas in the LG office really cozy. Colleague Satyendar Jain has upgraded his strike by also observing a fast.

The customary press conferences are missing, but that role has now been left to twitter. Kejriwal tweeted about the second night in the LG office assuring Delhiites of AAP’s resolve to improve their lives, but they are feeling shattered because many great initiatives are getting stuck. Kejriwal appealed to the LG to work together to achieve common good. The AAP ministers are pressing Baijal to issue direction to IAS officers deputed with the Delhi government to end their four-month old strike, apparently in protest against the attack on the chief secretary, punish them for indiscipline and grant approval to the government’s plan to deliver ration items to the doorstep of people.

All those who are familiar with Kejriwal’s ways know that drama is the essence of the AAP leader’s self. This time drama came in the form of a startling offer to BJP. “I want to tell BJP that if before 2019 elections, Delhi is granted statehood, we’ll make sure that each and every vote from Delhi goes in your favour, we’ll campaign for you. If you don’t do so, Delhi residents will put up boards saying BJP leave Delhi,” the chief minister said during a special session of the Delhi Assembly to seek full statehood for the territory, jointly administered by the central government.

There is certainly merit in the demand, but the central government feels that as Delhi is also the seat of Government of India, it is important that the Centre has control of key parts of administering the territory, including security and law and order. In several areas in which responsibilities overlap, the system has led to a virtual standstill. It is obvious that the present arrangement cannot continue, but how to reform it is more than a million dollar question.