By offering soft, warm, paranthas to Kejriwal to call off the AAP dharna, Jung, the new Lt. Governor of Delhi, has not only raised the culinary standards for political parleys but acted in a manner aligned to the high office he holds.
In sharp contrast is the behavior of the Government of India’s Ministry of Home. Leave aside the intemperate description of Kejriwal as mad by its minister…which Kejriwal, being Kejriwal, may well be willing to accept, in the same manner as he gladly accepted being termed an Anarchist. It is a sad reflection of how rusted the “steel frame” has become that apparently the babus in the Ministry felt that Jung jumped the gun; that they could have “tired” Kejriwal out; that an “olive branch” of sending two cops on leave was an unnecessary concession.
The problem with the Babus of today is that they cannot draw the line between the political objectives of their political masters and the obligations of the post they hold. It is not the job of the Home Secretary to improve the image of the Congress or rubbish that of the AAP. It is not the job of the police to promote political agendas.
Unfortunately, such fine distinctions between public responsibility and private gain are long gone and babus align with one or the other party to get ahead.
Till the proliferation of the Commissions, since the late 1990s (which are overwhelmingly staffed by retired IAS officers and judges), the highest prize a retired official could aspire for was becoming a Governor of a State. Unlike the President who has to be elected by Parliament a Governor is merely appointed by the Central Government; a safe non transparent process used for accommodating babus in possession of embarrassing secrets of netas; quid pro co for loyal services rendered in the past to political masters; parking slots for politicians past their expiry dates and such like. The net result is all incumbents of the post of Governor are agents of the central government. Two such ex-babu Governors are now media breaking stories because the CBI has sought the Presidents clearance to question them in the sorry story of the mis-procurement of AugustaWestland VVIP helicopters.
Governors, in general, are meant be benign observers, like the Queen of England. They don their Durga avtar when the Central Government decides to declare a state of emergency and dismisses a State Government. Effectively this transfers all powers upwards to the Central Government, which rules through the Governor.
The last time this happened was in 2002 in Uttar Pradesh. Mercifully, since then, the coalition dharma at the center has protected those on dharna from being summarily excluded from political power by the President.
In Delhi the Lt. Governor rules directly since the Police and the Land Administration is with him nominally and actually, closely controlled by the respectively, the Home Ministry and the Ministry of Urban Development/DDA. The two powers are inextricably linked. Land and property is the safest and most lucrative refuge (with better returns than the stock market) for the loot from corruption. You protect your wealth, power and status by controlling the police. It is no coincidence that till the Supreme Court directive the largest limousines had lal battis. The Lt. Governors real power comes from how close he is to the person calling the shots in Delhi.
Najeeb Jung may have acted on the direct orders of 10 Janpath, or its ancillary offices. However I prefer to believe that Jung acted out of a deep sense of responsibility, maturity and convention, in keeping with the sophistication his position requires. Jung is here, with us in Delhi, till at least the election results are known. This is not the last dharna or street action he will have to deal with. It makes eminent sense for him to reach out to Kejriwal and establish a sense of trust and fair play with him. A democracy is functional only if political parties collaborate. We have not seen good examples of positive and responsible collaboration in the recent past. This is one shining example of the correct approach.
Jung has been a babu, an international civil servant, an academician and an actor. By his “warm parantha parley” approach, he has finally crossed the line and become a politician, whilst simultaneously remaining the gentleman and aristocrat that he is. This may, incidentally, also ensure his continuance as the Lt. Governor, even post 2014, since even handed and level headed Governors are scarce to come by. Who says God doesn’t reward good acts?