AAP Must Act Against Bharti to Retrieve Lost Ground - The New Indian Express

AAP Must Act Against Bharti to Retrieve Lost Ground

Published: 26th January 2014 07:11 AM

Last Updated: 26th January 2014 07:11 AM

The first month in office of Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi should have made the inexperienced but well-intentioned AAP leadership conscious of what course correction it needs to prevent its acceptability from slipping.

With elections to the Lok Sabha a mere three months away, the party has no time to waste if it is to expand its footprint and continue to appeal to its original supporters. It can hardly afford to fritter away its mandate with reckless moves. It is vital that it reads the writing on the wall rather than believing that it can do no wrong.

While the demand that the Delhi Police be brought under the command of the Delhi government was perfectly in order, the manner in which Law Minister Somnath Bharti flexed his muscle with the police and handled the African women, who he claimed were running a sex and drugs racket, was churlish. Bharti compounded his acts of omission and commission by using abusive language. His crass comment against BJP bigwig Arun Jaitley and legal luminary Harish Salve saying that he would like to spit on their faces for criticising his midnight raid on the abodes of the African women was in rank poor state.

While AAP has decided not to take action against Bharti, if it is to retrieve lost ground on the controversial dharna by Kejriwal and his Cabinet colleagues against the Delhi Police which inconvenienced and harassed a lot of Delhiites, it must act against Bharti sooner than later. Kejriwal cannot be seen to be blindly defending an errant colleague without caring for propriety.

Yet, it cannot be a one-way atonement. If action is taken against Bharti, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde also needs to atone for his reference to Kejriwal as a ‘mad’ chief minister. Shinde has been shooting his mouth off time and again.

The dharna by Kejriwal and his supporters in central Delhi for the transfer of some police officers pending an enquiry could have been averted had Shinde accepted Kejriwal’s demand which was hardly a tall order. But Shinde chose to deliberately ignore the demand so as to discredit the AAP government. Had Shinde sent the two SHOs on leave till the completion of the inquiry as was finally done on the advice of the Lt Governor, the crisis could have been pre-empted. Now to call Kejriwal ‘mad’ is condemnable. The least that should be expected from the home minister would be to apologise for his intemperate remark against the duly-elected chief minister of Delhi.

Such flashpoints will come again between the home minister, Delhi Police and Kejriwal if the issue of who the Delhi Police reports to is not settled once for all.

When the police force in every state capital is answerable to the state government, it is patently wrong for the Delhi Police not to be answerable to the Delhi government on the pretext that Delhi is special because it is the national capital. The erstwhile Delhi government led by Sheila Dikshit had approached the Centre on a few occasions with the demand, but the UPA government had brushed it aside and since both were Congress governments, a sharp clash out in the open was averted.

It would be but fair for Kejriwal to relentlessly pursue his demand for Delhi Police being brought under the control of his government if he is not to be a helpless spectator to the corruption, red tape and uncontrolled high-handedness of the police in the capital.

The AAP government can then be held duly accountable for the performance and integrity of the Delhi Police. 

The author is a former journalist


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