Badle badle mere (AAP) sarkar nazar aate hain…
Great Britain has no written constitution. The monarchical Westminster form of parliamentary democracy there hinges on its great traditions and precedents. The British take pride in being strict sticklers to the law, traditions and precedents. But, on the contrary, in our form of parliamentary democracy where we claim to be following the Westminster style, we take pride in breaking the traditions and precedents. We do swear by the Constitution but, at the same time, the ruling political party does everything to tame it to realise party’s narrow political ambitions and sectarian electoral goals in which the interest of the nation, invariably, stand isolated.
A new political outfit named Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) composed mostly of novices in the field in just one year of its existence succeeded to catch the imagination of the metro city of Delhi to capture 28 out of 70 seats and also to defeat the Chief Minister Sheila Dixit by a huge margin of about 26 thousand votes. It is an unusual happening in the electoral history of India. Though BJP emerged as the single largest party with 32 seats, four short of absolute majority, yet it preferred not to form a government than indulge in horse-trading. The ruling Congress stood reduced to paltry 8 seats. JD (U) won one seat and one went to an independent.
Even a day before declaration of results, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal swore by his children (God, save them!) stressing that his party would neither seek nor extend support to either BJP or Congress. Initially, it looked as if Delhi would have to suffer the travail of being denied a representative government with president’s rule being imposed in the state for six months. That is why for a fortnight, Delhi virtually remained without a government as the incumbent ministry had resigned and, as per tradition, the Lt. Governor had asked Sheila government to continue till alternative arrangement was made.
After haggling and bargaining, the Congress decided to extend ‘unconditional’ support of its 8-member group from outside to AAP government. It was the miracle of this parliamentary democracy that a ruling party badly mauled at the hustings could still be on the right side of power enjoying all the privileges of a ruling party except government bungalows, red beacon lights fitted luxury cars and staff. It provides fuse to the AAP government and luxuriates at the cost of government without accountability.
The ‘honest’ AAP stooped down to accept support from ‘corrupt’ Congress —the same Congress most of whose ministers, till the declaration of election results, the party had been vowing to throw in jail for ‘corruption’.
Finally, AAP government with Arvind Kejriwal as chief minister took oath on December 23. It was asked to prove majority in the house by January 3. In the process many unusual happenings took place. Many of the great traditions and precedents got crashed into rubble.
Since India won independence, it had been a tradition that the senior most MLA belonging to any party was nominated by the governor to function as pro-tem speaker to administer oath to newly elected MLAs. When Lt. Governor nominated the senior most MLA belonging to BJP as pro-tem speaker, the latter declined the offer. Congress followed suit. Ultimately, an AAP MLA was nominated as pro-tem speaker. After oath of MLAs, the pro-tem speaker used to conduct the election of the speaker. Thereafter, the Governor/Lt. Governor addressed the newly elected assembly in which the future programmes and policies of the new government were enunciated. It was only after that the house could conduct its normal business and take up the vote of confidence. In fact, the election of speaker itself is the virtual floor test of the strength of the incumbent government. All this was dispensed with.
Two days before the confidence vote Kejriwal himself said: “He has only 48 hours left with him.” He claimed that his government may continue or be defeated in the house, he is not bothered. He wished to fulfil some of the promises made to the electorate. It was a political ploy and electoral game plan. In the event of his losing the vote of confidence, he wished to present the successor with fait accompli. If his government was defeated, he could shout from the house top: Look my government did what it could and should; it was defeated by vested interests because his government took these people-friendly decisions.
It is beside the point that many point out that neither the electricity relief is 50 per cent nor the water supply concession is as promised because about half of the population does not have electric and water connections in their houses and they are the real aam aadmi. Congress claimed that only subsidy had been increased.
But the question arises: Is a government which has yet to prove its majority and consequently its legitimacy constitutionally by tradition and by law empowered to do so?
As a rule, a vote of confidence is moved by the chief minister or the prime minister. It is he who replies on the conclusion of the debate and seeks approval of the house. This practice too was dispensed with. The motion was not moved by chief minister Kejriwal but by one of his colleagues. Both the opposition BJP and ally Congress made certain points, sought certain clarifications and made certain allegations during the debate. Congress declared that their support will continue as long as the AAP government took people-friendly decisions and adopted policies which were, in the opinion of the Congress, helping the aam aadmi. The discussion was not wound up and replied by the mover of the resolution but by the chief minister Kejriwal. It was also for the first time that a chief minister chose to completely ignore all the points raised and allegations made during the debate. He preferred to keep silent on controversial issues as he felt convinced that silence was gold in the circumstances. He forgot his pre-result brave words that “corrupt” Congress leaders would be behind bars immediately after AAP government took over and that a strong Lokpal shall be passed on December 29 at Ramlila Maidan. He did vow a Lokpal within a fortnight. He did kept the hope alive that corruption will not be tolerated at any level by any individual to whichever party he/she may belong. But nothing new. Similar words have repeatedly been reiterated by the Congress leadership too. Then what is different?
What was starkly eloquent and piercing the ears of the viewers was the absence of the sharpness of Kejriwal’s determination and commitment to stand by each and every word he gave to the people.
Kejriwal made name for coming out with specific allegations of corruption and malpractices against the then chief minister Sheila Dixit and her government. For the last about one year he had been branding Congress and CM Sheila Dixit as “corrupt” and claiming himself to be “honest” on posters pasted on the back of hundreds of auto-rickshaws plying in Delhi. Ironically today, he is challenging the opposition to come out with proof against Sheila government.
This reminds us of the scene before 1989 Lok Sabha elections when in public meetings VP Singh used to boldly take out a piece of paper from his pocket saying it contains the names of those who received the Bofors kickbacks. But after he became Prime Minister he forgot everything and that piece of paper too disappeared.
- P. Singh history seems to be repeating in the case of Kejriwal. Now one only recalls a popular Hindi film song: Ab to badle badle (AAP) sarkar nazar aate hain, ghar ki………..
By Amba Charan Vashishth