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For Arvind Kejriwal, It’s Time To Perform

Now that the SC has upheld Kejriwal's supremacy, he can no longer play the victim card.

The Supreme Court’s verdict, upholding the supremacy of the elected government in Delhi, is no small a victory for Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). In his tug of war with the Lieutenant Governor and the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) led Union government, this huge victory will play a role on three counts for AAP.

Firstly, the SC’s judgement will definitely boost AAP’s morale before the 2019 general elections. It has given the leverage to AAP to claim that it has fought hard and has released the state from the clutches of BJP. However, this judgment also places the onus on AAP to meet its promises on developmental initiatives. Until now, AAP has had the luxury of raising the banner of non-cooperation from LG and Union government. Now, AAP should dust its tables and ensure its impact on delivering services to the people of Delhi, as it was Kejriwal, “the activist’s” trump card before becoming Kejriwal, “the Chief Minister.”

Secondly, SC’s judgement has also redefined federalism in our country. The apex court drew a Lakshman Rekha for the LG and stated that he has no independent decision-making powers in areas beyond what is specified in the Constitutional Amendment Act– the act that guarantees statehood to Delhi, apart from three subjects – land, public order and police- reserved to the authority of LG. SC also directed the LG to act on the aid and advice of the state government. Also, the state government no longer requires LG’s concurrence for decisions that fall within its purview.

With this judgment, the apex court has shed more clarity on the degree of consultation and concurrence that can be exercised by the LG when it comes to discharging constitutional assignments. This question has come up for judicial scrutiny for the first time ever since the 1975 Emergency.

As a matter of fact, the court termed LG as an ‘obstructionist’. This is nothing but a slap on the face of central government, which used LG as a tool to intervene in Delhi’s administration.

Lastly, though BJP and principle opposition Congress might find it difficult to digest, Kejriwal has definitely cleared the grounds for future governments here by ensuring that they remain free from the centre’s commands. After all, sooner or later, it is these two parties who will stake claims to form the government in Delhi.

Hence, keeping in mind the welfare and interests of Delhi’s 20 million residents, the most sensible course of action for the BJP and Congress would be to step back and let the Kejriwal government function. It will be foolish on their part to point a finger at SC’s judgment.

Now that the SC has upheld Kejriwal’s supremacy, he can no longer play the victim card. What’s left to see is if the BJP would replace current LG to salvage its prestige or pretend to act in cooperation and coordination with the Delhi government. A fresh start will put the ball squarely in Kejriwal’s court, leaving the BJP look conciliatory.

For the national polity, the key takeaway from this judgment is that Kejriwal managed to portray himself as the poster boy of federalism in the power club of opposition chief ministers. This will definitely broaden the acceptance to AAP.

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