A logjam

Is it a path finder to the shape of things to come? Yes, that’s the feeling one would get on reading in newspapers about the AAP statement that the Delhi government has unfettered rights over the Union Territory. Unfettered? Would it not produce a diagonal rash across the face of cooperative federalism if a ruling party, known only for finding convenient scapegoats for its failings and fatuitous liberal righteousness, succeeds in its agenda? That too on a purely administrative issue made to look portentous on constitutional grounds? Also a ruling party which has a self-conceived animus against the media through which it rode into limelight on the bandwagon of anti-corruption crusade but could not tolerate the barbs against itself? Finally in a union territory with partial statehood which ipso facto means two constitutional heads with their domains?

Well, the matter is under judicial scrutiny and let it rest there. Yet it is scary to see a party of inexperienced, rabble rousing individuals, gravitating around a single supremo, squabbling over a constitutional issue which has sent jitters up the babus. The world of babus is lost in its own hibernation that it has to be whipped into productive action at times and is bewildered when extraneous conflicts like this one happen. Right now if the morale among the Delhi babus is low it is only to be expected for in a constitutional crisis when two main functionaries seem to be at loggerheads decision making will be either tardy or something to be feared.

The legal fraternity seems to be divided on the issue with some luminaries responding more in terms of their predilections than objective insight. But it all started with the appointment of Shakuntala Gamlin as acting Chief Secretary by the Lieutenant Governor Naseeb Jung precisely to fill the lacuna in administration for a brief period before a final decision could be taken. AAP immediately cried foul because of their pertinacity to see red in view of a perceived bias of Ms. Gamlin towards Reliance (which has asked for a Rs. 11000 cr. Loan)whose company is in charge of the power distribution in Delhi. The AAP argument has been that if granted it would mean a higher power tariff for the consumers. As it is, there is proposal to DESU to up the tariff(the Tata run firm has suggested a 4 p.c. hike while the Reliance run firm has asked for a steep one) recently despite the administrative standoff over the appointment which indicates that the power situation in the NCP is far too bad and crying for a relevant solution. The nodal problem in this is rise in the price of gas and thermal power and Delhi’s power comes from gas and thermal based stations.

Delhi buys its power quota from the NTPC and distribution of power in the capital had been left to Reliance and Tata by the predecessor governments. From the word go AAP had been against it without providing any alternate proposal except a specious politicized argument (they did not want to be seen as being pro-corporate or worse, pro-Ambani) that the government had the right to go for a bidder who would be more accommodative in terms of tariff and other factors. The question is who for which they had no convincing reply.

Freebies, a concept looked at by many economists with withering scorn, has also been the bulwark of the AAP’s so-called economic policy and the vehicle of their huge mandate. The moment they swung to power they acted on their promise of 50 p.c reduction in power tariff for the poor and the free supply of 20000 litres of water but in the macro perspective how would it translate in budgeting in future is left unaccounted. As it is there are unresolved problems like pay arrears of the municipal staff, disruptions in power and water supply and the log jam in administration because of the hair splitting over constitutional powers.

But Kejriwal has learnt political gamesmanship more than anything else and is convinced that in politics pretensions to being more sinned against sinning work a lot better. After all he has the mandate to project the image of the aggrieved party and take the Delhi electorate along with him in this journey of temporary political windfall. Pass the buck to stay afloat than resort to swimming against the tide in the name of governance.


More by :  K.S. Subramanian

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