Month: April 2015

MPs want free drinks

MPs have demanded and got many privileges at airports. Public and private airlines have to entertain them and meet their demands. MPs forget they are representatives. They think they are rulers. Many TV channels had campaigned against VIP culture including privileges for MPs at airports. For some months there was silence. Now Civil Aviation Ministry has come back and granted the privileges MPs demanded. Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapti Raju referred to those privileges as courtesies. These are not courtesies but extortions.
One privilege is free coffee, tea, cold drinks and other refreshments to MPs at airports. All airlines have to abide by that. It is disgusting that MPs do not want to pay for coffee, tea, cold drinks and other refreshments. Sometimes MPs are accompanied by their friends, acquaintances, assistants or family members. They will also have to be given free refreshments. When MPs travel with their parents, grandparents, siblings, children, grandchildren, cousins, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, spouses, parents-in-law, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, nephews-in-law, nieces-in-law, cousins-in-law, uncles-in-law, aunts-in-law and others they will also get free refreshments. This is outrageous. Soon MPs will demand free biriyani, chicken, mutton and so on.
Most MPs who demanded these privileges are first time MPs from BJP. They have support from MPs of other parties.
Some MPs have said they do not use such privileges. Two are from BJD: Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo and Baijayant Panda. Kalikesh said it is not only MPs but bureaucrats, judges, journalists, police officers and frequent fliers who get such privileges. Airlines grant privileges to their regular customers.
What airlines grant willingly is a different matter. MPs got the privileges because they extorted it from the Civil Aviation Ministry. If bureaucrats and others have put pressure on the ministry and extorted the privileges it is wrong. Civil Aviation Ministry should withdraw privileges granted to MPs and other public servants.
It is foolish to expect Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to speak against such privileges because they enjoy many privileges which MPs do not have. They have SPG security which is extended repeatedly and crores of rupees are spent on them while people of Delhi are short of security. They don’t have to stand in queue and be frisked at airports. When they travel on road, traffic is blocked.
Ashok Gajapti Raju said previously his lighters and match boxes were confiscated at airports. After he became Civil Aviation Minister he is exempt from security checks and carries his lighters and match boxes without confiscation. This is security breach.
Many MPs do not accept the accommodation provided by government and live in five star hotels and their expenses are a burden on the citizens of the country. There were reports of some MPs taking government accommodation and continuing to live in five star hotels.
MPs do not pay toll. They wanted red beacons on their cars. That demand was not granted.

AAP is Animal Farm

Those who have read George Orwell’s Animal Farm will know what I mean by AAP is Animal Farm. In that novel beasts of England and Ireland are called to revolt against a man. Beasts of Manor Farm revolt and drive out the man and establish the rule of animals. They change the name of the farm to Animal Farm. They have their rules of equality and so on but they get diluted over time. There is fight between two leaders for control of animals. One is victorious.
AAP began with principles and high promises. It comprised of members who were part of India Against Corruption and wanted ombudsmen; Lokpal at Centre and Lokayukta in states. They contested Legislative Assembly elections in Delhi and won 28 out of 70 seats. Congress extended it outside support. Arvind Kejriwal became chief minister. The government lasted 49 days. Congress did not support AAP’s Lokayukta Bill and Arvind Kejriwal resigned.
AAP expected dissolution of Delhi’s Legislative Assembly and elections along with Lok Sabha elections. That did not happen. AAP went to Supreme Court against non-dissolution. The case dragged on for many months.
Principles of grassroots democracy and no high command culture were given up during Lok Sabha elections. Local members had no say on who their candidate should be. There were no primaries. People in Delhi decided who should be candidates. It was high command culture. In Lok Sabha AAP contested more than 400 seats. It won 4 seats in Punjab. It did not win any seat anywhere else including Delhi. BJP won all 7 seats in Delhi and led in 60 Assembly segments.
Shazia Ilmi quit AAP. She accused Arvind Kejriwal of working against her. She said there was sabotage when she contested from R. K. Puram and Ghaziabad.
Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung not to dissolve Delhi Assembly for a week. He wanted to form government with Congress support. Congress did not support him.
BJP was confident of winning in Delhi. Legislative Assembly elections took place. Shazia Ilmi and Kiran Bedi joined BJP. Kiran Bedi became BJP’s chief ministerial candidate. There were questions about some AAP candidates who had joined from other parties. AAP won 67 seats. BJP was reduced to 3.
Arvind Kejriwal had talked against VIP culture, ministers occupying bungalows, security, red beacons. Now he wanted a bungalow and got one. He had security when he went to Bangalore. Traffic was stopped for him. He did not pay toll. He said all this was as per protocol.
He wanted Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav out of Political Affairs Committee. There was no place for dissent against party supremo. He succeeded. After that Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav were thrown out of National Executive. These two were founder members and had done great service to the party.
Anjali Damania quit AAP. Medha Patkar quit AAP.
AAP Lokpal Admiral Ramdas was sacked though some months were there to complete his term. Arvind Kejriwal who had talked and agitated for Lokpal for India and had resigned for not being able to pass Delhi Lokayukta Bill had sacked his party’s Lokpal. He constituted three-member Lokpal.
Prashant Bhushan was removed from disciplinary committee. New members were brought in.
Some AAP leaders held Swaraj Samwad on 14/4/2015. Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha received notices for that and were expelled from the party on 20/4/2015. Dharamvir Gandhi who was sympathetic to Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav was removed as AAP leader in Lok Sabha.
Finally, Arvind Kejriwal who did not want security and had been accessible to journalists wanted Delhi police to provide security to him from journalists during his farmers’ rally on 22/4/2015. Delhi police replied he has no threat from journalists. However police were present during the rally which made more news because of a farmer’s suicide. BJP and Congress blamed AAP for continuing the rally. Arvind Kejriwal said they repeatedly appealed to police who are not under him to save the farmer but they did not save him.
AAP talked of transparency, inner party or internal democracy and of allowing dissent. That has disappeared. After becoming Delhi CM for the second time he could have quit as national convener. He did not do it. During Delhi elections someone had said “AAP is Arvind Kejriwal. Arvind Kejriwal is AAP.” For many in India and abroad AAP had brought hope and expectations of clean politics, end of corruption, participatory democracy and so on. That hope is shattered. In its place there is disappointment, disillusionment, dismay. India’s common man looks around to see whether any good politician is left. There is no one left; no, not even one.