Full disclosure: This column invites pieces from people across political parties. Please check the bio for the author’s political affiliations.
While the Union government run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his confidant Amit Shah is crushing Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sat on a nine-day Satyagraha at the Secretariat of the Bharatiya Janata Party-appointed Lieutenant Governor. Questions have been raised by citizens and the media on his Satyagraha. The Aam Aadmi Party welcomes these and through this write-up, I’m addressing the questions of “why Satyagraha”.
Whenever an authoritarian is at the helm, one has to protest. In the current political scenario in Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal is the last man standing.
Satyagraha, a weapon used by Mahatma Gandhi against British rule, is a peaceful way of protesting against rulers. The situation—in Delhi specifically, and in the country in general—is quite similar to the British Raj days.
Delhi has an elected government, voted to power by the people. The mandate of the people is the most powerful in the Indian democratic system. However, the picture is totally different. Ever since the AAP came to power with a massive mandate of 67 out of the 70 assembly segments in Delhi—marginalising the BJP at 3 out of 70, with the Congress getting zero seats—the Union government has crushed the people’s mandate.
Instead of the elected government, all the powers have been vested with the selected Lieutenant Governor, appointed by the BJP government. It’s a rare case of responsibilities lying with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and powers vested with the Delhi LG. Democracy and its meaning has been turned upside down.
Both the BJP and the Congress say the AAP must have known about the powers of the Delhi government before running for elections. Yes, the AAP knew that not all powers lie with the government, but it’s been rendered powerless, after a notification from the Central government snatched the Anti-Corruption Bureau and Services from the elected government and handed them to the LG. The AAP government also approached the apex court on the issue and the verdict is awaited, after the judgment was reserved in December 2017.
The Central government, through its LG, has stalled all projects of public good being carried out by the elected government. The Chief Minister has written to the Prime Minister for intervention and has repeatedly sought time from him. Leave aside granting time to Kejriwal, Modi has not even replied to the letters.
If this were not enough, an IAS strike was engineered at the behest of the PM to cripple the elected government of Delhi. The bureaucrats stopped working.
In such a scenario, how is the elected government supposed to work? Projects like the mohalla clinics, polyclinics, CCTVs for women’s safety, new colleges, new schools, doorstep delivery of ration, desilting of roads, redesigning of roads—all of them are stalled. What should the government do?
People voted for Kejriwal and his team, not for Modi or his “viceroy”. Kejriwal and his MLAs are answerable to the people of Delhi, whom they meet them on a daily basis. What should they tell a girl facing a tough time because there’s no CCTV installed in her neighbourhood? Will the LG meet her, when he has no time to meet chief ministers of four states?
In this scenario, Kejriwal sought time from the LG and asked him to act. But he refused. So it was at this juncture that Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues decided to sit on a Satyagraha at the LG’s waiting room with his cabinet colleagues.
This is not the first time that an elected representative started a Satyagraha. However, it is for the first time in the history of the “IAS” that they went on strike, defying the code of conduct which governs them.
Kejriwal’s Satyagraha is justified: they weren’t asking for anything for their families or themselves. They were sitting for the people of Delhi. Why should the mandate of the people of Delhi be crushed? Their vote should have equal importance.
The CM with his colleagues waited for the LG peacefully, requesting the LG everyday to meet for a few minutes. The CM even wrote to the PM from his Satyagraha, but to no avail, again. When the Prime Minister goes deaf, you have to make your voice reach to him through other peaceful means. Kejriwal did the same.
In the current scenario, many elected representatives are facing the crisis that Kejriwal is handling. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is protesting against the Prime Minister for not giving him audience after five requests. He even went for a Satyagraha against Narendra Modi.
There can be no better response to Modi’s lack of response than this peaceful method shown by Mahatma Gandhi.