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Delhi CM squats on the street

 | January 24, 2014

Kejriwal’s protest stemmed from the fact that the federal-controlled police were disrespectful of and disobedient to him and his ministers.

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A few days ago, New Delhi was under virtual siege.

The Chief Minister of Delhi State, Arvind Kejriwal, his Cabinet colleagues and hundreds of supporters squatted on the roads of New Delhi bringing India’s capital city to a complete halt.

New Delhi is part of Delhi State.

Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had recently won the Delhi Assembly elections, defeating the Congress Party. However, since the AAP fell short of a majority to rule, the Congress – which heads a coalition government at the federal level — offered support. So, Delhi is now administered by the AAP-Congress coalition.

Kejriwal’s protest stemmed from the fact that the police, which is controlled by the federal, not the state government – unlike the other states in India where the force falls under the state administration – were disrespectful of and disobedient to Kejriwal and his team of ministers.

In a case of alleged Ugandan prostitution ring in New Delhi, the state’s Law Minister found the police unresponsive. This angered the Chief Minister, who demanded that the guilty cops be suspended. When this was not heeded, he began a peaceful and non-violent protest.

The Congress was nervous with the Republic Day parade coming on Jan 26, and Kejriwal’s “dharna” or squatting on the roads threatening to mar the celebrations.

Kejriwal’s demonstration or the “theatre of the absurd”, as a member of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party described AAP’s protest, was called off after the federal coalition sent the “erring policemen” on leave in order to facilitate an inquiry.

AAP’s “dharna” has unfortunately put off many of its well-wishers, who felt that Kejriwal behaved like an “anarchist” and “vigilante” – rather than a mature statesman.

It appeared ridiculous that the Chief Minister of a state should have turned to street-level agitation to resolve the issue – when it could have been achieved through dialogue.

The question now being asked is whether Kejriwal and his ministers will return to the streets every time they have a problem with the federal government.

The Chief Minister appears to have stopped being a reformer. What is more, even his staunchest supporters run away from him. AAP’s latest misdemeanour seems to have completely alienated the party from the people.

Gautaman Bhaskaran is India Editor of FMT, and Chennai-based author, columnist and movie critic. He may be emailed at[email protected]


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