Sunday, February 23, 2014
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Arvind Kejriwal lead Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) resigned last week, two months after forming government in Delhi. Media space is abuzz with speculation. Was Arvind Kejriwal trying to find a way out of Delhi state? Was Arvind Kejriwal aiming for the seat of prime minister of India by contesting upcoming general election? Did Arvind Kejriwal and AAP realize that it may not be possible to fulfill all the promises made during election. Arvind Kejriwal was looking for an escape route anyway. Resignation on the pretext of inability to get the Lokpal Bill passed provided a perfect exit route. Did novice chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and newbie AAP turn table on their experienced and wily political opponents?
Two months of AAP rule in Delhi was tumultuous and eventful. The cabinet was sworn in public view. Within a few days of occupying office, Arvind Kejriwal came up with his controversial free water policy. Upto 700 litres per month free water. People using 701 litre, however, will have to pay the full charge. Problem was, this policy would be effective in colonies that have piped water supply and water meter installed. Many people who do not get regular water supply, may not benefit from the policy at all.
Then Arvind Kejriwal went after electric power distribution companies. Power distribution companies demanded hike in electricity tariff, claiming high cost of power purchase. Power distribution companies claimed they cannot purchase power without raising tariff. Arvind Kejriwal initiated CAG audit of power companies. To Arvind Kejriwal’s credit, no past government ever resorted to such measure. However, Arvind Kejriwal and AAP will not be there to see the outcome of audit.
Arvind Kejriwal went on a dharna outside rail bhavan before republic day. AAP demanded transferring Delhi police under control of Delhi government. This issue has been discussed unsuccessfully several times by previous governments. Arvind Kejriwal threatened to disturb republic day parade. He slept on the street on a cold December night, before eventually calling off his protest. Many claim this protest was to divert attention from his errant law minister, who raided houses of Ugandan nationals on the pretext of searching for drugs and arresting prostitutes.
Finally, Arvind Kejriwal issued arrest warrant against Mukesh Ambani, Verappa Moily and Murali Deora. Arvind Kejriwal claimed that Mukesh Ambani was looting Indian exchequer by charging more for gas excavation. Verappa Moily and Murali Deora acceded to demands of Mukesh Ambani as ministers of petroleum. No amount of argument and explanation that there may be cost of investment, cost of opportunity, cost of capital expenditure to excavate gas, would convince Arvind Kejriwal and AAP.
I do not know if AAP’s rule in Delhi was a nightmare or a new era of openness. I do not know if Arvind Kejriwal and AAP betrayed citizens of Delhi who voted for them? Could Arvind Kejriwal have discussed and persuaded BJP and Congress to get his bills passed? Whatever may be the case, there is no doubt that Arvind Kejriwal is an extremely honest person. How many political leaders in India can boast not having any permanent dwelling? How many politicians are willing to pay market rent for government accommodation? Arvind Kejriwal has agreed to do the same. Finally, Arvind Kejriwal has said, raison d etre of AAP is to fight against corruption. Once corruption is removed, there is no need for existence of AAP and Arvind Kejriwal. Almost sagacious, almost Gandhian! Only time will tell.
Tags: Arvind Kejriwal, AAP, Mukesh Ambani, Veerappa Moily, Murali Deora, Corruption, Power Distribution, Gas Excavation