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EPISODE – XXXIX
TOPIC: Mr. Kejriwal’s Challenge
BLOG: The Hindu
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Arvind Kejriwal has always projected himself against the might of the establishment to give his message a rallying edginess (provocative). He did so as an activist of the Right to Information campaign and subsequently (not previous) against corruption — and unexpectedly, a year into his second stint as chief minister of Delhi, the old against-all-odds, anti-establishment manner continues to inform his style of governance. His politics, by all appearances, thrives (If someone or something thrives, they do well and are successful, healthy, or strong) on this. More significantly, by persisting with the David-vs-Goliath messaging, Mr. Kejriwal has framed questions of Centre-State relations and of equity and delivery of basic services in coordinates that have resonance (If something has a resonance for someone, it has a special meaning or is particularly important to them) in all of India. As Chief Minister, Mr. Kejriwal has been in constant combat with the Lieutenant Governor and the Prime Minister, an engagement that has often become too personal. But the extraordinary power-sharing in Delhi accentuates (To accentuate something means to emphasize it or make it more noticeable) the debate on the Centre’s reluctance to cede (If someone in a position of authority cedes land or power to someone else, they let them have the land or power, often as a result of military or political pressure) more ground to Chief Ministers in India’s rapidly federalising polity. As Mr. Kejriwal told the The Hindu this week in an exclusive interview, characteristically combining the personal and the institutional: “I’m the quarter-sized Chief Minister of a half-State, he (PM Modi) is the ruler of the country. Why is he after me?” Mr. Modi has rewritten the prime ministerial protocol too in relation to Chief Ministers by his appearance of being in constant electoral campaign, and more substantively by his NITI Aayog-led reforms. But it is in Delhi, a Union Territory and not yet a State, that the cut and thrust of the PM-CM face-off is playing out most anecdotally (Anecdotal evidence is based on individual accounts, rather than on reliable research or statistics, and so may not be valid).
The tussle between Mr. Kejriwal and the Centre has many parts. There is the question of who should have the last word on appointment of officers and disciplinary action. He has alleged larger destabilising design in the decision of bureaucrats to go on mass leave this week. He has taken the fight to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley after a key bureaucrat in the Chief Minister’s office was raided by the Central Bureau of Investigation. He has grounded this combativeness with a politics of equity, promising to share civic services with Delhi’s periphery (If something is on the periphery of an area, place, or thing, it is on the edge of it) and less privileged segments. The current traffic decongestion plan — as a strategy — has had a dramatic impact in highlighting hazardous air pollution, and puts the VIPs’ exemption against an entire city’s participation. But what is of concern is that the Modi-Kejriwal face-off is affecting the city administration. In effect it denies the Chief Minister a chance to give a permanent shape to his policies or provides him an alibi to evade doing so. Either way, Mr. Modi will have to find a way to normalise the Delhi-Centre relations. For his own sake, as the asymmetry suits Mr. Kejriwal politically. But more importantly, to return the federal spirit to India’s governance.
TEST YOUR SKILLS
WHAT IS IT CALLED?
If someone in a position of authority ……………….. land or power to someone else, they let them have the land or power, often as a result of military or political pressure.
To …………….. something means to emphasize it or make it more noticeable.
If something is on the …………………. of an area, place, or thing, it is on the edge of it.
You use ………………… to describe something that happened or existed after the time or event that has just been referred to.
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