Two days of a siege: U-turn of AAP and full circle for Delhi

Written by: Pathikrit

Two days of intense chaos, uncertainty, security concerns and an unprecedented protest by an incumbent Chief Minister came to an abrupt end in Delhi last night when Arvind Kejriwal decided to call off the stir quite suddenly. He stated that he was calling off the stir after Delhi Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung made an appeal to call off the strike primarily because of the security issues involved owing to the upcoming Republic Day function in Delhi.

While Arvind Kejriwal was quick to call the stir off and declare it as a victory of the people of Delhi, in the hindsight it is for sure that the message from the home ministry was perhaps made extremely clear to him that beyond a point such an imbroglio in a sensitive location during the period of the nation's preparation of Republic Day event would not be tolerated. Needless to say, Kejriwal's options were perhaps limited so far as calling the agitation off is concerned. The other option is anyone's guess.

So the key question that is being asked by the common man is what this whole protest was all about. Was it about women safety? Was it about giving the elected government of Delhi the control of Delhi Police which is now being controlled by the home ministry? Or was it about the issue of Delhi Police officials not complying with the dictums of the Delhi law minister? And if it is about the control of Delhi Police, then can that alone ensure safety of women in Delhi? Or for that matter, can the mere suspension of four officers, as has been demanded by Kejriwal and partially heeded to by Delhi's Lt. Governor by asking two of them to go for a leave, solve the issue? Can a mere token suspension of a few make Delhi safer or eliminate the rackets?

In almost all other states of India, law & order is a state subject and police comes under the concerned state government but that alone has not been able to stop issues of rape and atrocities on women in other states, if at all the incumbent chief minister of Delhi had thought that merely bringing Delhi Police under that State Government of Delhi would be like a panacea for all ills plaguing the capital state.

The issue of illegal prostitution and drug rackets being run by foreigners in India and especially the issue of several Africans illegally entering into India and indulging into such trades in major metropolitan cities is a pertinent one.

It was only a few weeks back that Goa was taken to ransom by scores of Nigerians owing to the death of one of their men in bitter battles of drug syndicates. There is no doubt that these syndicates need to be curbed with an iron hand and India needs a national policy on the same. Also, had the minister filed an FIR and took the right way; this would have become an entirely different issue. But the method of vigilantism with utter disregard to the law enforcement process shown by Delhi law minister and his insistence to Delhi Police personnel to raid a building at night without any warrant was bizarre.

The law minister's vigilantism with little regard to the law was bizarre

It was the same kind of netagiri that AAP claims to be against. The protocols need to be maintained at any cost. And had Kejriwal and company been really serious of issues of women safety and drug syndicates in Delhi, a better alternative to a bizarre dharna by an incumbent CM, would have been to take the Delhi Police to court if there are real issues of dereliction of duty. That is also one kind of activism but is more nuanced, constitutional and acceptable.

Kejriwal could have asked the court to intervene and pressurise Union Home Ministry to implement the much needed police reforms. There is also perhaps a need to find out as to how so many foreigners are getting chance to enter India for illegal activities and how are they being given visas. Cornering the government on these issues would have been better than to go for meaningless street protests which yielded little.

For all its abhorrence for corruption and misgovernance, AAP would be wrong to presume that Indians at large would support Kejriwal if he wants to take India on the path of an Arab Spring. There is an invisible hand of balancing factor that runs in India and that is why in spite of everything, India is still perhaps more disciplined and thriving than many of the failed states all around.

It is for sure, given the caustic criticism that Kejriwal's histrionics of turning Delhi into a Tahrir Square is emanating from all corners; people this time had mix response to his approach. For most, not just the intent but the method and the process has to be nuanced and that not every problem can be solved by street protests which eventually becomes major nuisance to tolerate. For an extremely busy city like Delhi, it becomes a nightmare. People were a little taken aback by this unique show of a CM protesting against the establishment. The common whispers were that people elect government to create solutions for them and not to protest for them.

More than anything else, just before Republic Day, Kejriwal's protest could have created the worst kind of apocalypse. Delhi is a very sensitive and high security place especially before Republic Day and Independence Day and the reasons need no elaboration. Any terror group could have taken advantage of the situation and triggered a terror attack on an incumbent Chief Minister of the capital state of India sitting without any security on roads for reasons yet to be fully clarified.

Already the Home Ministry is on the tenterhooks on inputs about radical terror groups planning to take advantage of Kejriwal's lax security and abduct him. It would create the worst kind of apocalypse for the nation for which Kejriwal would not have any right to blame anyone else. He has to realise that he holds a constitutional position and that the security and sanctity is of the position he holds and thus, so long he holds that position, he would have to follow at least certain key protocols and decorum.

Governance is a serious issue and is not about histrionics, street justice or vitriolic. There is no doubt that India needs massive administrative and institutional reforms to restore the confidence of people in the concept of governance. But it has to be always kept in mind that the quest for betterment should not eventually lead to an anarchic situation.

Arab Spring failed and no one benefitted from it in Middle East. Each of the arab state where it happened is in utter chaos there. No one can thus afford to experiment that in India and neither would the common man entertain that. People have put hope on Kejriwal and instead of taking pride in calling himself an anarchist, it was perhaps a prudent decision on this part, albeit late, to call off the strike and get back to work as was advised by businessman and now an AAP member Capt Gopinath.

While it is still not clear as to what Arvind Kejriwal had intended to achieve from it, many have started to look at it as his attempt to create a launching pad for his and his party's Lok Sabha election. Already he had made his stand clear a few days back that he might contest Lok Sabha elections. But for the time being, Delhi Police must be heaving a sigh of relief now that the protest has been called off and road seems to be smooth for the Republic Day Parade.

The Aam Aadmi is relieved too perhaps. The lesson for AAP too is clear. It has to resist its temptation to hit streets for every issue. It worked to bring them in government. Now it is time to govern and not to protest.

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