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A Pandemonium Called City of Delhi

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By Sidharth Mishra

The word Pandemonium was first used by English poet John Milton in his epic Paradise Lost. Milton is rather credited with inventing the word to signify a complete disorder, noise and breakdown of protocols. Over the centuries it has come to signify wild and disorderly behaviour of the law makers and people entrusted with the responsibility of governance.

Last week in its consistent attempt to woo the agitating farmers of Punjab, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi Government summoned a special session of Delhi assembly to discuss the farm bills. This was largely done as a counter to the similar session held by the Punjab Assembly, which passed bills to counter the Central act.

The Punjab bills are waiting to become law as it needs approval of not just the Governor but also the President. That’s certainly not going to happen till we have the Narendra Modi government at the Centre in place but it also cannot be denied that this move has given a boost to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh’s image of being pro-farmer politician.

With Arvind Kejriwal pitching for a direct contest with Capt Amrinder Singh-led Congress in the Punjab assemble polls scheduled for 2022, the special session of the Delhi assembly was summoned to create a buzz in its favour. However, whether legislative assembly of Delhi, which is a union territory, has even the power to discuss a central law is matter of examination.

Probably Kejriwal realized his predicament of not being adequately empowered to initiate a full-fledged debate on the issue and thus preferred to create a pandemonium tearing the copies of the central law inside Delhi assembly. As was expected a Chief Minister tearing copies of the Central laws created the ‘right’ optics and image of a ‘law tearing’ Kejriwal was all over in the newspapers next morning.

The irony of the situation being that the Delhi Government a few days back had notified one of the farm laws but now realizing the political fallout of the same, is trying to make amends. And towards this end, the purpose of getting sufficient political mileage by calling a special session of the assembly was well served for Kejriwal.  

Talking of pandemonium, the political rivals in the national Capital – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have taken the bedlam to the streets of Delhi. While the three Mayors of the three municipal corporations entered into a fast-unto-death outside the residence of the Chief Minister demanding release of funds for the municipal bodies, the Chief Minister let loose his two trusted legislators Atishi Marlena and Raghav Chadha to lay a siege of the residence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Thankfully, the High Court intervened and ended the chaos.

However, despite the High Court intervention, will the chaos, which has come to signify the life and governance in the national Capital, end anytime soon. Not likely, as the Delhi government in absence of any financial planning has run out of funds and unlikely to release any monies to either corporations or the Delhi University college in near future, which sooner or later would lead to another round of protests. 

It goes to the credit of the current generation politicians, who use the social media tools very effectively to overcome governance deficits with counter narratives and this is true for ‘smart’ politicians across the spectrum. With politicians more focused on optics rather than taking up the tough challenges of real time governance, pandemonium in Delhi is going to stay for some time.   

(The writer is Author and President, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice) 


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