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STILL STATE

To listen in turn to the three political parties concerned, it would seem that the fact that Delhi does not have an elected government is wholly the fault of the other two parties. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which had modestly refused to lay claim to government formation after the December 2013 assembly elections because it was short of a simple majority, blames the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress, especially the erstwhile chief ministerís proclivity of playing to the gallery. The Congress blames the AAP and the BJP, and the AAP, with its usual air of injured innocence, everyone but itself. The Delhi assembly has been in suspended animation since February 2014, when the Arvind Kejriwal government resigned following its failure to table the jan lok pal bill. The mutual accusations among parties erupted this month when the Supreme Court responded to a petition presented by the AAP for dissolution of the assembly and fresh elections. The court has asked that a solution to the deadlock be found within five weeks (from August 5), whether that be a reviving of the present assembly or fresh elections. The decision has to be taken by the Centre.

A state should be put under presidentís rule ó in this case, under the rule of the lieutenant governor ó as a last resort. The sooner that situation reverts to normal, that is, back to an elected assembly, the better. The Centreís argument, that a few months is not really all that long in a five-year term, is an excuse for inaction, not an argument at all. The Supreme Court has put the principle lucidly: why should the citizens of Delhi be deprived of their right to be governed by their elected representatives? Not only are they being deprived of this right, but, as the court has also pointed out, legislators are being paid out of taxpayersí money while sitting idle at home. In other words, the people of Delhi are being cheated while politicians play games behind the scenes. By bringing the petition to court, the AAP has shown itself willing to go for fresh elections. The Congress does not seem equally enthusiastic. Neither does the BJP, although it has been effusively welcoming of the Supreme Courtís direction. But the furthest the party has gone is to say it would assess things should the lieutenant governor invite it to form a government. There is no hint from the Centre yet as to which way the Delhi ball shall roll. September 9, the next hearing, is not very far away.