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Mini-boost for AAP

Editorial |

The more significant political determination will be made early next week when votes are counted for the by-election to the Delhi Assembly from Bawana, but the Aam Aadmi Party has registered a mini-success in the High Court setting aside the Lieutenant Governor’s order scrapping allotment of a government bungalow which has served as the party headquarters since December 2015. A success because the Administrator’s order was not set aside on any technical ground but because the court held “no reason” was given for the action. And that would appear to validate the AAP contention that, unable to stomach the electoral drubbing the ruling party at the Centre had suffered, the Central government was using every trick in the book to frustrate the activities of their party. Not only did Justice Vibhu Bhakri direct Mr Anil Baijal to pass a “reasoned order” after hearing the party, and “stayed” two consequential instructions, he said that if the Central government had a policy for allotting accommodation to political parties it must be “applied uniformly”. That indicates that Kejriwal’s party was being “singled out”. A point seemingly confirmed by the Centre’s counsel making much of the party declining to accept alternative accommodation in comparatively distant Saket in lieu of the bungalow in Rouse Avenue, in the heart of the city.

The AAP leadership has always been unconventional, and not necessarily because it is inexperienced. Defying established norms is integral to its game plans, witness the chief minister staging a dharna at the foot of Raisina Hill and threats to disrupt the Republic Day Parade. Yet that does not justify the Centre misusing the office of the Lieutenant Governor to create visible complications: to which there is a pattern, two of the occupants of Raj Niwas have indulged in questionable practices. The BJP never allows opportunity to pass when its leaders (and that includes the present Vice-President of India) do not stress their dominant numbers in the Lok Sabha, yet they refuse the same legitimacy to AAP’s 67-3 win in the Assembly poll. Now the BJP makes much of the outcome of the by-poll in Rajouri Garden, and hopes that it will be replicated in Bawana: that poll being necessitated by an AAP “turncoat” switching allegiance to saffron. Directly related to the fact that different parties hold sway at the Central Secretariat and Players’ Building is the continuing tussle over who wields authority in the city ~ a prime example being the Delhi Police virtually accountable to neither. The ultimate sufferer is the resident of the Capital, the quality of governance he receives is hardly commensurate with the huge funds expended. Even when the Congress party held sway in both power centres there were tussles, clearly there is a requirement for fresh overarching legislation. Yet before that, Raj Niwas must quit playing hatchet-man for North Block.