Kejriwal’s outburst

| Updated on March 09, 2018 Published on December 16, 2015

The Delhi Chief Minister should do the only proper thing in the circumstances — apologise

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s extraordinary outburst against Prime Minister Narendra Modi marks a new low in our political discourse. Delhi’s splenetic Chief Minister has taken umbrage at the fact that his office suite — where the office of his Principal Secretary is also situated, and who was the actual target of the raid — was searched by the CBI in connection with an alleged case of corruption dating back to the previous Congress-run government. Kejriwal has argued that as Chief Minister and a “constitutional authority”, the CBI should have informed him before raiding his office. The CBI’s explanation, that it was executing a court-ordered search warrant, and that his officer, and not Kejriwal himself, who was the target, has obviously fallen on deaf ears. But before launching such a tasteless invective-laden personal attack on the Prime Minister, Kejriwal should have reflected on the fact that the Prime Minister also is a constitutional authority, and deserves the same respect that he demands be conferred on chief ministerial office. His defence for doing so — that the choice of words may have been wrong but Modi’s actions were worse — does not wash. The proper course is an apology.

The all-out attack launched by the Aam Aadmi Party, which was quick to accuse the BJP-led government at the Centre of pursuing “vendetta politics”, have found an immediate echo in Parliament, with various Opposition parties quick to join the chorus. The Congress finds itself in a difficult situation, as the original corruption charges currently under investigation by CBI pertain to the time it was in power in the State, and its then Chief Minister Sheila Dixit is also mentioned in the complaint. But it will no doubt seize on the vendetta card — which it was the first to play, in connection with the National Herald case involving the Congress’ first family — to carry on with its filibuster in Parliament. With that, any hopes of getting any serious legislative work accomplished in this session, including the passing of crucial reforms like the GST Bill — have all but vanished. National interest has once again been sacrificed at the altar of political self-interest.

At a deeper level, the face-off, and the general reaction to it, reflects the overall erosion of belief in public institutions. If the CBI enjoyed more credibility and conducted its investigations with greater independence, such a controversy was unlikely to come to pass. Time and again, the dispensation in power at the Centre has used its power over the CBI to pursue other, more political agendas. If the concept of federalism, leave alone the “co-operative federalism” that Modi wants, is to work in India, relationships between political opponents must remain within the boundaries of civilised behaviour, and faith in public institutions like the CBI needs to be rebuilt. That can only happen with serious systemic reform, and genuine autonomy for the police and other investigative agencies.

Published on December 16, 2015
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