AAP, Delhi, BJP : Why The NDA has failed

The events in Delhi, with the confrontation between the ruling NDA Government and the AAP Government over the matter of who has the say in Delhi is a vital one, one that holds almost paramount importance and priority for us as a people and as a nation, and for more reasons than one. It is the 2nd test for a fledgling government at the center, a test of their skills in democracy.



NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE
I refer to the NDA Government. It is an acid test of their ability to take along diverse and at times conflicting interests towards a common goal – which is, I respectfully submit, the single most vital ingredient for a good and successful central government in a land as diverse as ours. In order that all programmes get smoothly implemented, it is vital that the centre handle even state opinions opposed to them; it is also a test of their honesty and integrity as well as their maturity.


In only the first year, we have already seen major flare-ups in two states : Jammu & Kashmir, and New Delhi. In both cases, it is manifest that it is an intransigence on the part of the BJP that is at the root of the flare-up. The point isn’t that who is or who is not right : the point is firstly, the irresponsible statements of party members and leaders, and secondly & more importantly, the inability of the center to bring diverse opinions on board for the greater common good. Being the leader, you have no right to complain about the intransigence of the other party : you are the national government, the prerogative to exacerbate or solve the issue is yours and yours alone. You cannot devolve that prerogative on your political partner and/or opponent.


Being the national leader, if you take a confrontational stance once – it is ok; quite understandable, given the challenges and difficulties, as also the diversities involved. But if you do so again and again, the suspicion will arise that you are a party that is good at the state level, but a failure when it comes to the question of running a diverse nation with variegated political ideologies and views – a task which requires political maturity of a very high grade, as well as an empathy towards and respect for local issues, ground realities and problems. This has now happened twice; and only in the short space of 10 or 11 months.


For a nation like India, you cannot pontificate sitting in New Delhi – you cant even do that for New Delhi, let alone the whole country. The great leaders who wrote our constitution wrote a Union with a federal structure for a reason; there is a reason why there are segregation of tasks and powers between the center and the states. Ground realities require someone close to the people, who can understand the issues and craft solutions. And pontification is precisely what any number of NDA leaders have been doing – with comments like people should forget caste and vote for progress and things like that. The entire Article 370 brouhaha is yet another example of pontification and irresponsible talk, given the well documented opposition to the same in several parts of India as well as Jammu & Kashmir.


A third example was seen in New Delhi, with statements calling the ability of the State Government, and that they have to be taught. Such remarks in a situation as razor-edge {constitutionally} as New Delhi only make a solution that much more difficult as both sides of the debate further firm-up their positions. A fourth example is the repeated statements that can be called polarizing statements from various BJP leaders, compounded by the centers inability to reign in their own people – leading at least me to wonder – just who is in command? We have already seen what happens when the PM is not in total but mature command; I certainly do not want a repetition! While the PM is certainly in command in terms of programmes and tasks, he is not doing anything overt to control the people within.


High time the NDA learnt that confrontation is not the way forward, of which there are any number of examples. Where was the need for the recent statement of a leader on how we shall tackle terrorism, leading to a rejoinder from Pakistan that we are fomenting terror there? Cant this have been implemented quietly? What good has been served? And, in matter relating to Center-State relations, given the nature of the division of duties of each, it is absolutely vital that the center shows the maturity in handling states, which so far it hasn’t, and this is a manifest fact.


Such matters cannot be sorted by irresponsible nonsense – which BJP leaders are wont to do {and which the Government simply is unable to crack down on}; they require building a consensus, and crafting a quiet path away from polarizing statements, utterances and Media glare. As things stand, New Delhi is a relatively minor matter; and this Government has completely failed to craft a solution with its manifest confrontational stance, which is debatable given the divergence of legal and constitutional opinion on this matter, as well as the past history, wherein even an BJP Government has asked the LG to consult the Chief Minister, and in a case which is already in the President’s House.



THE AAP
It cannot be blamed in this entire matter : it is merely asking for something that is available to all other State Governments as a matter of right. It is also a democratically elected Government, and no one – especially not the center – has the moral, ethical right to say we can teach them {or words to that effect}; that is the task of the people through the vote. You cannot teach; you can guide, help, direct – but not instruct; that is the task of the election and the people. Such statements only underscore the impression of arrogance.


Neither is the claim of New Delhi being a special case valid, given the manifest ambiguity in the matter in constitutional terms, as has been brought out by the remarkably diffused legal opinions we have read, as also this excellent article in the Indian Express : Explained Kejriwal v Jung. The need of the hour was a mature handling : sitting with both, conceding some demands of AAP, as was done with previous governments of Delhi,{ Discussed here on how reverse was done earlier } and crafting a permanent solution to end the ambiguity, or letting the President or the Supreme Court settle the matter.


The AAP, on the other hand, has shown incredible maturity in handling the situation; sure – it is confrontatational as well  - but first, it is a new party, and is only learning the ropes. You have to cut them some slack for that. Second, you have to understand the promises they have made- which requires a level playing field, and independence. Third, you also have to account that historically, there has been a precedent of cooperation between the LG and the Delhi State Government, as also a historical precedent of the ruling party backing the full statehood demand : BJP’s volte-face on full statehood for Delhi and The State of Delhi Bill in 2003


As things stand, the BJP is the one that is being exposed as being opportunistic, and two-faced in this matter, as also confrontational, given the historical precedents. And the AAP comes out clean as a whistle despite is confrontational stance, which was in fact in predicated upon the constant treatment by the centre and the overriding to its objections; it was that over-ride that precipitated the problem – this could have been avoided and nipped in the bud had the NDA shown the maturity to step in at the start, rather than precipitate a problem- this would have proven itself as far ahead and mature of a confrontational AAP!


THE CONCLUSION
In conclusion, it seems that the more experienced and older party, with extensive experience of Governance, is being taken on by a newer party not used to administration, and learning the ropes- and is being exposed for its confrontational mindset quite conclusively. In light of the events of the 90s and the early 00s :  { deputy prime minister LK Advani who had stressed that the consultation was not just a formality in 2002 when then chief minister Sheila Dikshit asked Shailaja Chandra be appointed to the top post. }. Why this duality of stance? Why grant it to one State Government, and deny it to another? On what basis? Why this ham-handed approach? And what does this confrontational, ham-handed and immature handling of center-state relations hold for us as a nation? I cannot recall such unbelievable duality in my memory; this exposes the BJP, as also raised serious questions on its ability. 


This is one of the most important reasons why I regard this Government as a failure and as a zero, despite its many successes that are far ahead of most governments! We need mature handling from the Central Government, not duality, partiality, opaque decision making and confrontation! The NDA Government has some explaining to do in this matter; quite a bit in fact. The AAP – I can only say it has grown a lot of maturity in the past one year, and is now learning the ropes very fast indeed. With time and experience, given their focus, I am sure we have a national party that can deliver the governance India needs. All the best to the AAP!




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