Governance paralysis reason for Delhi’s miseries

This meeting is pending as we all know Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is cooling heels in Tihar Jail and holding the administration to ransom by refusing to resign.
Governance paralysis reason for Delhi’s miseries

A newspaper headline said Delhi Paralysed the day after the first monsoon rain. The report referred to the standstill which the life in the national Capital was brought to by the two-hour-long downpour on Friday morning. The fact however remains that the city has been facing governance paralysis for a long-time now, visible this year first in the summer thirst due to shortage of drinking water and now in the deluge caused by downpour.

Chairing an emergency meeting following delug, Lieutenant Governor Kumar Saxena is reported to have said, “It is shocking that the Flood Control Order & desilting of drains that should have been issued and completed by 15th June, 2024, are yet pending.” The Flood Control Order is ordinarily issued after the Apex Committee meeting chaired by the Chief Minister. This meeting is pending as we all know Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is cooling heels in Tihar Jail and holding the administration to ransom by refusing to resign.

Delhi is facing acute governance paralysis because Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with cabinet colleagues is in the jail. Not that his presence in the office would have seen the collapse of civic system by any lesser degree as it happened on Friday last. City’s Mayor Shelly Oberoi, is on an extension with her term having expired.

Oberoi last week had claimed that the MCD had successfully desilted 92 percent of drains deeper than four feet and 85 percent of the shallower ones. Her claims came a cropper on Friday, as clogged drains became the major reason for flooding of the city.

Since the Chief Minister is in the jail, he has not been able to complete the file work which could have initiated the election of the next Mayor. The committees of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) have remained non-functional given the logjam caused by the jailing of the Chief Minister.

The apathetic situation was best illustrated in an interesting social media post on flooding by Congress Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor and his remarks about his Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena. In the first post Tharoor said that his house was under a foot of water ruining furniture and carpets. Later he posted saying that he received a call from Saxena, who was courteous and responsive, explaining the constraints on effective action due to the division of responsibilities between Union and State Governments.

Ironically, Saxena is reported to have told Tharoor that he would take all necessary steps before the next major shower. Now in the modern times in which we live, major down showers were being predicted by the Meteorological department for a while now, and given the reputation and mutilated existence of Delhi government and the MCD, what stopped the Lieutenant Governor to act earlier.

What added to the irony was a post by the Delhi BJP leadership which asked all its MPs, MLAs, councillors, NDMC and Delhi Cantt Board members to remain on the streets and keep clearing the waterlogging for the entire monsoon. Now this is nothing more than a mere public posturing. The maintenance of civic services in the city is the job of Delhi government, the head of which is in the jail and the torso busy in playing the blame game.

It was mentioned in these columns last week that the residents of Delhi should not be further penalised for having elected a government which has completely failed to deliver on the governance front. It’s again reiterated that the prevailing anarchic situation in Delhi provides sufficient ground for dismissing Arvind Kejriwal government and imposition of the central rule.

Article 356 of the Indian Constitution allows the President of India to impose President’s Rule in a state if the state government is unable to function according to the provisions of the Constitution.

After getting a call, Tharoor commended Saxena as a conscientious civil servant. The question is what’s stopping this conscientious civil servant from recommending the imposition of the central rule? If Saxena is a conscientious civil servant he should steer clear of politics and save Delhi from civic deluge by dismissing a non-functional state government and take administration completely in his hands.

Sidharth Mishra

Author and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice

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