How might explain the charade being enacted in Delhi? I can identify three plausible explanations. Here they are.
1. Kejriwal: The logic of permanent agitation
Kejriwal’s core competency is to agitate. In doing so, he seeks to play the role of the underdog who is taking on powerful interests. He is the angry (young?) man of Indian politics. Kejriwal is not interested in governance. To be fair to him, he knows his limitations in this regard. He is realistic; does what he knows best.
The episode over appointing the Acting Chief Secretary provided him with the opportunity to launch another agitation. He now has the attention of the media. He has moved the discussion from Bhushan-Yadav rebellion to injustice being meted out by the LG to the elected government of Delhi. Bureaucrats are not his constituency; he is merely using them as his punching bag.
2. BJP: The logic of taking panga and watching the fun
I wonder if the BJP has recovered from its rout in Delhi elections. Bedi is out but it is not clear who has replaced her as the leader. Delhi politics seems like a waste of time for the BJP — until next Lok Sahba elections, of course.
Further, there are other important issues on the agenda. The Prime Minister is inflicted with the Nehru-disease and has become a world leader. When he visits India, he is absorbed in tweeting, selfies, man-ki-baat, and coining yet another slogan.
But the BJP has been vocal on the issue of statehood of Delhi for the last 25 years. They have opposed meddling by governors in state administration (e.g. the spat between Governor Kamla Beniwal and CM Narendra Modi over the appointment of Lokayukta in Gujrat). Isn’t this a great opportunity for the BJP to walk the walk? Shucks, no! As Orwell noted in 1984, “Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” Selective amnesia is necessary for political survival.
What then explains the BJP’s approach to these events? The issue is not Delhi; it is the AAP. The BJP cannot allow the AAP to consolidate itself in Delhi. So, needle them. Exploit the fact that Kejriwal has a temper – provoke him and watch the fun. The game-plan is working well. Kejriwal is over-reacting – his treatment of Delhi bureaucrats reminds me of the stories I have heard of Bihar under Lalu, and UP under BSP and SP. Further, in the war is between the LG and Kejriwal; the BJP is not directly implicated. Smart strategy!
3. Najeeb Jung: The logic of permanent interests, not permanent friends
The LG of Delhi is a very coveted post, I mean really coveted. Lots of lobbying. Only the most loyal get appointed. This Najeeb Jung is a Congress appointee and yet he has not been sacked or transferred by the BJP. Well, he has now become a BJP man. This works well for both. BJP can duck the accusation of communalism and he can continue as the LG.
If Jung plays along with the BJP, he might be allowed complete his full term. Plus, when his term ends in 2018, the Modi government would still be in power. There are lots of plum appointments to be secured – Ambassadorship to a nice country, another governorship, endless possibilities. The LG has a long shadow of the future; he is a role model in the rational actor framework. The beauty of this strategy is that Jung has a legitimate rationale for his actions – as per the Constitution, he is the one who appoints Delhi bureaucrats, and not the CM.
Which of the theory(s) is (are) true? My sense is that all are true. All actors in this charade are acting rationally. Individual rationality is leading to collective irrationality, especially for the citizens of Delhi.
I wonder if Delhi is fast becoming a “failed state.”