Kejriwal may need to reinvent himself

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The standoff between Delhi’s chief minister and lieutenant-governor is another symptom of the trust deficit between a politician who hasn’t stopped playing to the gallery and an administration trammelled by the duality of its existence as a state encompassing the nation’s capital. Ever since Arvind Kejriwal took office once again as CM, after his brief first innings ended in disastrous abdication, he has demonstrated a distinct lack of understanding of administration. The acting chief secretary’s appointment is just another lever in the AAP’s confrontational politics, with its leader yet to mature as a constitutional functionary elected by the people to administer Delhi.

IAS officer Shakuntala Gamlin had no option but to take charge after a direction by lieutenant-governor Najeeb Jung. Curiously, the AAP’s objections are only to her being acting chief secretary; all along she was in charge of the department overseeing power utilities. This is ironic as the AAP accuses her of favouring big powerful discoms, a bee in the bonnet of a party that made power distribution one of its key election planks. Also, it was the AAP which had proposed that a senior official take temporary charge as chief secretary. While Mr Jung chose one, the other officer, the AAP’s choice, cried off due to the growing controversy.

Seasoned politicians are inured to compromises that must be struck in realpolitik as well as in running a government. After all, is it not said that politics is the art of the possible? But then Mr Kejriwal is prone to seeing himself more as a Don Quixote tilting at windmills in an eternal game of politics, rather than getting down to the nitty-gritty of running a state government. It is this sense of confrontation that sees him wishing to go to the President to complain rather than buckling down to the task of running the affairs of Delhi, which is rather a unique state anyway, with a police force that come directly under the Union home ministry.

If the lieutenant-governor is guilty of bypassing the council of ministers and ordering an appointment directly, as the AAP alleges, it is incumbent on the Centre to sort out the issue after a proper dialogue. The difference of opinion over the appointment should have been resolved instead of being turned into a constitutional issue. But the state’s leaders too may be guilty of pressuring the officer not to take charge in defiance of its declared choice. The simplest way ahead might be for the President to remind the Delhi CM that his primary duty is to run the administration and not play politics; but then Mr Kejriwal will have to reinvent himself if he is to carry out his primary duties. (Asianage)

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