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FOR THE SAKE OF FREEDOM

India, mercifully, is a democracy. Had it not been one, the nation might have charted a different path for itself. Perhaps it would have resembled Egypt, where all that was started at Tahrir Square three years ago ended up with a takeover by the army and the arrest of the nation’s first elected president.

Therefore, while criticizing the antics and the ‘anarchist approach’ of the Aam Aadmi Party, the media as well as experts should take into account the fact that this fledgling outfit has, at least, provided a platform for the people to express their grievances in a peaceful and democratic manner. It is true that some of the things that have been done by the Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, and his ministers cannot be expected from an elected government. Yet the AAP and its leaders have prevented a bigger–– and perhaps bloodier––upheaval from taking place.

The situation in India is quite ripe for a big change. This can be gauged from the fact that the people of Delhi voted to power a party that came into existence just a year ago and has hardly any experience of running a government. The people rejected the party which was in power for 15 long years. Neither did they repose full faith in the main opposition outfit, the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Too early

The emergence of the AAP and its subsequent expansion on the political horizon of the country suggest that the people are disenchanted with India’s political class. Their disillusionment has got an outlet in the form of the AAP. In many places, especially in the tribal areas and in rural India, where there is no credible political alternative, ordinary people are taking up guns and becoming Maoists. In its first few months of existence, the AAP has succeeded in preventing citizens from taking up the gun and has rekindled their hope in the existing system.

What must be noted is that the AAP has become a ruling party from a movement in a very short amount of time. The AAP’s leaders and workers must be given more time to become mature politicians. But why blame Kejriwal, who has hardly any experience of heading the executive? After becoming the chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee reportedly barged into the state-run Bangur Institute of Neurology while she was on her way to Writers’ Buildings. When its director objected to the presence of mediapersons as well as some other people, the chief minister ended up suspending him.

Poor examples

It is understandable for a chief minister to undertake such an inspection of a hospital. But the director was well within his rights to object to the inconvenience caused by the presence of numerous people. Owing to his suspension, S.P. Gorai could not perform several surgeries that had been scheduled.

The media in Calcutta did carry the news but the issue did not become a debating point nationally. Nobody questioned the legality of the doctor’s suspension. Admittedly, the condition of West Bengal’s health sector has never been good. As the health minister of the state, Banerjee was not wrong in making an unscheduled visit. But the manner in which she acted was unbecoming of a chief minister.

In Delhi’s case, it is not the chief minister but the law minister who had first indulged in vigilantism. The chief minister came into picture later— apparently to defend the action of his law minister. The method adopted by the government in this case can definitely be questioned. But it has certainly succeeded in telling the people that the Delhi Police are not controlled by the state government, but by the Union home ministry.