To see Delhi’s Chief Minister being beaten up by the city’s own police force is a bizarre sight indeed. Even though Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of India’s upstart Aam Adami Party (AAP), is now in office, he has been sleeping on the streets for the past few days along with hundreds of his supporters, demanding police reforms. Under Delhi’s current legal setup, authority over the police lies not with the city’s Chief Minister but with the Home Minister (who is currently a member of the Congress Party) from the central government.Kejriwal is thus challenging the Congress Party’s leadership literally at its own doorstep. Livemint reports:
He defied police lines and barricades to reach a place near the home ministry in central New Delhi, a high-security zone of grand sandstone buildings that houses the parliament, various ministries and the presidency building.“We will continue our protest. How can home minister (Sushilkumar) Shinde sleep when so many crimes are happening in Delhi? When women are unsafe in the city? We won’t negotiate,” Kejriwal told reporters.
The Delhi police has a woeful reputation and is hardly trusted by Delhi’s residents. Kejriwal is tapping into the deep frustrations that, not just Delhiites, but many Indians have against what they see as a sagging, corrupt administration.Congress hasn’t helped its case. It shut down five metro stations, disrupting the daily commute for millions of people. It also called Kejriwal an “anarchist”, an epithet he has gladly accepted. The party has been made to look elitist, insecure, and out of touch with voters, precisely what its detractors say about it. And now that the police have beaten the protesters with batons, Congress has come in for even more embarrassment.It’s going from bad to worse for the ruling party. BJP’s Narendra Modi must be clapping his hands with glee.