The recent, AAP's two-day dharna, besides the Indian Parliament, has concluded and battle-lines are drawn. Thus, it's time to ponder what really happened in Delhi. A duly-elected Chief Minister leading a minority state government sat in protest against another constitutionally elected central government. Why?
The answer differs, depending on one's political allegiances.
If you are a Congress or a BJP [albeit these days it means Modi] supporter, you will feel that this was break-down of constitutional machinery and that the Chief Minister was spreading “anarchy”. Former cop, Raman Magsaysay awardee, an erstwhile colleague and now a self-confessed Modi-supporter, Kiran Bedi, even went to the extent of demanding dismissal of AAP's state government. “Elected Government which practices and promotes anarchy ought to be dismissed by the President of India without further loss of time,” she tweeted. Notably, Bedi, just a month ago, was advising AAP to join forces with BJP to give Delhi a stable government, and thus avoid the imposition of President's rule.
Meanwhile, if you are an AAP supporter, you will feel that all the other options in the said cases [gang-rape of a foreign national, a dowry burning case, and alleged sex and drug racket run by foreign nationals in a Delhi locality] such as talking to senior cops, or to the Lieutenant Governor, or even to the Home Minister, were already exhausted, and nothing had moved.
Granted, an inquiry was ordered, but AAP claimed that it wouldn't be impartial unless the local cops overseeing the aforementioned cases were either suspended or transferred. As the Central Government didn't agree to the Party's demand, the only option was to hit the streets.
Moreover, strategically, AAP couldn't afford to be seen sitting idle. All the more, when one of the Party's campaign slogan, which later became somewhat controversial, stated this in no uncertain terms. [Iss baar bhi diya bayemano ko vote, to mahilayon ka hota rahega balatkaar]
Women safety was and is AAP's priority, its supporters say, and the Party will not hide behind the previous Sheila Dixit government's off-repeated remarks of Delhi Police being “insensitive” and “the state government not having any control over it”.
Few fence-sitters also commented that AAP's entire agitation was with an eye on the Lok Sabha polls. Noted writer, Chetan Bhagat, lashed out at AAP's “Lok Sabha ambitions” and called the rookie political party an “item girl of politics”.
But among all this chaos and noise, an important point is being missed.
Just last week, when news of gang-rape of a woman from Denmark emerged, Congress and BJP tore into AAP about their promise of providing safety to women on the streets of Delhi. State Congress leader Arvinder Lovely had said then, “Is this the same party that accused Sheila Dikshit of making excuses? Today when they should take responsibility, they say that we need to study this issue."
But, Arvind Kejriwal, who commentators both at home and abroad have called “the new star of Indian politics”, has once again proved his political acumen with, what may later prove to be, a master-stroke.
With this latest dharna, which may indeed be “anarchic” for some, Kejriwal has provided his party with a perfect shield against all future political attacks on the issue of women safety in Delhi.
In an era of political symbolism, the image of a Chief Minister sleeping at the roadside on a chilling January night, demanding accountability of Delhi Police in cases related to women safety, is bound to reverberate in the public memory.
Just imagine the next time similar such incidents happen in Delhi. Yes, it will be unfortunate, but sadly, unless, wide-range police reforms [along with much-needed judicial and electoral reforms], which people such as Bedi have advocated for years, are undertaken, there is no reason to believe that Delhi will become safer for half of our population any time soon.
So the next time opponents of AAP try to score some political brownie points on women safety, it's will be difficult for them to get any public or even the media support.
It's not without reason that Delhi has gained notoriety as “India's rape capital”. And with Shiela Dixit's government helplessness in controlling the Delhi Police, which the latest dharna has proved was quite genuine, the onus of all past and future unfortunate incidents regarding women safety in the Capital now lies with the police.
Kejriwal has shown the world that he may be the Chief Minister, but insofar as women safety in Delhi is concerned, the buck stops with the Delhi Police.