After more than two months of political inactivity caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, there has been some political heat in the past two days in the national capital after it was revealed that the Delhi government had approved the appointment of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta as its counsel in a Delhi riots case.
Last week, the government submitted to the Delhi High Court that it had cleared Mehta’s name, prompting a fierce attack on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Leading the charge were Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, Kejriwal’s one-time cronies and brothers in arms when the Aam Aadmi Party was still a fledgling political outfit.
They charged the CM with being hand in glove with the Centre on the probe into the Delhi riots. The investigation by the Delhi Police, which is controlled by the Centre, into the violence that engulfed the city in February is widely seen as being biased.
The allegation against the police is that while they have charged many lightweights for the riots, several ruling Bharatiya Janata Party leaders such as Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and Kapil Mishra have gone scot free.
Now with the appointment of Mehta, the Central government’s top law officer, as its counsel, Kejriwal has opened himself to attack from his critics. Remember, just days before Delhi government made Mehta its counsel, the SG did not cover himself with glory during the hearing in the Supreme Court on the migrant workers.
Mehta compared the litigants and activists fighting for the migrant labourers to vultures, who prey on the weak and the dying. He has been widely panned for these comments.
Officially, there has been no comment from the Delhi government on Mehta. But Kejriwal should come clean on this. As it is, many felt that he did not do enough when the riots were going on in the city. Other than statements and meetings, not once did he go on the ground to provide succour and words of comfort to the riot-affected.
Although the Delhi Police does not report to his government, many felt he could have done better in relief and rehabilitation. He also has not raised his voice against the patently biased probe.
Even in the ongoing pandemic and the massive migrant crisis, he did not reach out directly to the poor people. Not once did he visit and inspect the conditions in which the thousands of migrant workers lived or tried to go home by train.
In the burning heat of May, without any protection from the sun, thousands of migrants with their young children lined up for a medical check-up before being herded on to trains for the journey home.
A government that projects itself as representing the aam aadmi, it could have done better.
H Khogen Singh
Resident Editor, New Delhi