After Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, the Supreme Court has once again come to the rescue of another state: Delhi. After its historic mandate in 2015, unfortunately the elected Delhi Government was waylaid and abducted in broad daylight within a few months of its inauguration. The whole world was witness - but nobody dared to help. The government was held to ransom for a good three years and now it can breathe. Now it can run on its own and hope to run smoothly too. One does not know if mischief mongers have learnt any lesson! In Uttarakhand and Arunachal, the Congress was the victim, here AAP. In Delhi, unlike Uttarakhand and Arunachal, the government was not dismissed, but it was not allowed to function. The victim was AAP.
The AAP government was formed on February 14. It was running smoothly till the Modi Government decided to take revenge for its first electoral loss after Modi took charge of the country as Prime Minister. Delhi was predicted to be a walkover for him. To his utter shock, his party could get only 3 seats out of 70 and a new party managed 67.
It was his first electoral defeat since he became the chief minister of Gujarat - and it was a humiliating one. This was most troublesome for Mr Modi as it proved that he is not invincible. Modi is known to not forget and forgive his adversaries. He decided to crush this rebellion right in the beginning. He decided to strike and on June 6, 2015, the Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB) was snatched from the AAP government. ACB was instrumental in reducing corruption substantially in AAP's first regime. Losing charge of it would make it tough for AAP to fulfil its most important promise, the promise to finish corruption..
The second attack was the decision of the central government to take away from the AAP government the Services department which controls the bureaucracy in the state. The elected government was told that since Delhi is a union territory, IAS officers and others too will report to the centre. This was bizarre. This meant that bureaucrats would work for an elected government that had no control over them, the government could neither choose its officers and nor could it discipline them. They stopped cooperating with the elected government. Administration was choked. At the behest of the central government, the LG's office became the centre of conspiracies. The AAP government became helpless. Then it was propagandised that Arvind Kejriwal was an anarchist and that he did not want to work according to the law and constitution.
A further crackdown started. AAP MLAs were targeted. They were arrested on frivolous charges. Income Tax and other government agencies were let loose on the party. Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court in its wisdom decided that the LG is not bound by the aid and advice of of the Delhi cabinet. It made the LG the boss and the elected government was reduced to a government without any power. The LG in his malice, prompted by the top, assumed himself to be Viceroy of the Delhi sultanate. The matter was referred to Supreme Court. Now, after seven months, the judgement has been pronounced. Finally, after so many hurdles, justice has been done, though it is a bit late. Still, AAP is thankful to the court. This will restore people's trust in democracy.
Let's hope that the LG respects the court order. Let's hope bureaucrats take the order in a positive spirit and cooperate with the elected government. Let's hope that the central Government led by Modi learns its lessons and does not put more hurdles in the path of the AAP government. Let's hope central ministers decide to help the AAP government to do developmental work. People of Delhi have suffered for no reason in the last three years. It should end.
The Supreme Court has very clearly underlined two things - that the elected government is the real government in Delhi and that the LG has a mandate only in three subjects - police, land and public order. In these matters, he is not bound by the aid and advice of the cabinet, but in the other matters, he has no option but to accept decisions of the cabinet. Hope he will follow this order in letter and spirit.
Secondly, with the judgement clearly stating that the LG has powers only in these three subjects, it means that the Services department which was forcibly snatched from the state government will be restored to the state government. So the bureaucrats will report to the Chief Minister and ministers - just like the bureaucracy in other states. No doubt, the cadre of IAS officers are controlled by the central government but once allotted to the state, it should let the state government allot them to different departments and also handle disciplinary matters. Hope that the LG has received the message that bureaucrats are there to help the elected government, not to serve the dictatorial whims of an unelected appointee.
There is also a big lesson for the AAP government. Now, it has no excuse. It has to deliver. It has done remarkable work in the fields of education, health, water and electricity. These works have been appreciated by all and sundry. But there is a lot more to be accomplished. Women's safety is an urgent issue in the national capital. AAP had initiated the process of installation of CCTV cameras but it was stalled by the LG. This should be expedited on an urgent basis. It will be a good model for the other states to follow. Similarly, doorstep delivery of public services and ration is a good innovative scheme. Time to now focus on governance. AAP is in charge now.
(Ashutosh joined the Aam Aadmi Party in January 2014.)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
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