By Sushil Kutty
Monday midnight Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash goes to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence. Kejriwal is not alone. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia is there. So are some AAP MLAs. Among them Amanatullah and Prakash Jarwal. Next day Prakash alleges assault at the CM’s house. AAP refutes charge. The police arrest Jarwal. Amanatullah surrenders to the cops. Kejriwal scraps Aadhar requirement for ration procurement in Delhi.
What is Kejriwal up to? Is this another example of AAP breaking free of the shackles of the Centre? Prakash says he was called for the midnight rendezvous to discuss the release of certain television advertisements to mark three years of AAP rule in Delhi. The advertisements were on hold and Kejriwal wanted them released. He says he told the CM the advertisements could not be shown because of a Supreme Court ruling. That didn’t go down well with the MLAs who pounced on him and roughed him up. He lodges an FIR against some AAP MLAs.
AAP refutes the allegations. It says the meeting was to discuss denial of rations to a big chunk of Delhi’s citizens because their Aadhar biometrics failed to register. AAP says in the altercation that broke out, Prakash cast aspersions and slurs on Dalit and other oppressed classes. AAP lodges a counter FIR.
Neither side has proof to substantiate respective allegations. But medical examination of Prakash shows up “bruises” and other injury marks. At least one AAP leader admits Prakash was roughed up but not to the extent his glasses slipped down his nose to the floor. Police arrest Jarwal and Amanatullah surrenders.
Next thing you know, Kejriwal bumps off Aadhar, frees millions of ration cards from the mandatory hold of the unique identification number. With that he not only cocks a snook at the Centre, he also proves that not for nothing is he called a self-proclaimed anarchist. Anarchy spells ‘lawlessness’ and by snapping ties with Aadhar, even if limited to Public Distribution System, Kejriwal has injected an iota of lawlessness in the system.
It appears like Kejriwal has decided to cut to size the writ of the Centre in the national Capital. If the ‘assault’ on Prakash is a hint, the CM’s decision to do away with ‘Aadhar mandatory’ for ration distribution in Delhi is a tight slap to the Centre’s face. Come hang me if you can!
It looks like Delhi’s oppressed class citizens have been conscripted by Kejriwal to fight his battles with the Centre and the bureaucracy. Delhi residents can now leave their Aadhar card home and head for PDS ration shops. Sisodia says the ‘Aadhar-mandatory’ decision is “put on hold”.
Is Kejriwal saying he has had enough of the Centre’s hegemony? The Capital’s well-off will not be bothered one way or the other if the Dalit/poor get rations with or without Aadhar. But the Dalit will certainly remember Kejriwal on Election Day. By scrapping #Aadhar4Ration, Kejriwal has carved a niche vote-bank for AAP. MLA Amanatullah drew the ‘Muslim Card’ on Wednesday.
But more serious, Kejriwal appears to be laying the foundation for a lawless society – a pre-requirement for anarchy. He can tomorrow order recruitment of clerks to Delhi government departments without checking the antecedents of the candidates because such investigations will require Aadhar verification.
Kejriwal has gone down a very slippery slope. There are murmurs he can lose AAP its government in Delhi. The Centre can cite breakdown of law and order. Certainly it will be within its rights. By delinking Aadhar from ration cards, Kejriwal has created a separate set of citizens with a separate set of laws. This without following the standard operating procedure.
The Supreme Court is hearing a clutch of PILs on Aadhar. It has not passed any order delinking Aadhar from ration cards. Kejriwal has gone into uncharted terrain. He can end up in a ditch. By removing a big swathe of the citizenry from the orbit of central government oversight, he has opened another front in his war with the Centre. He probably fancies himself ‘Prime Minister of Delhi’, running a parallel Central Government.
Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan and Satark Nagrik Sangathan, two organisations spearheading the campaign against denial of legal entitlements of rations to citizens ever since Aadhaar was introduced, reacted. “The Delhi government has not disclosed the source of data it relied on to arrive at the figure of 2.5 lakh families deprived of ration in January 2018 due to Aadhaar. The data available online show much higher levels of exclusions,” a statement released by the two organisations said.
The Aadhaar-based biometric authentication through Point of Sale (PoS) devices was made mandatory in Delhi from January 2018 to access rations under the National Food Security Act. PoS led to large-scale exclusion of the poorest from the ration system.
People were denied rations due to problems with Aadhar registration, linkage or with PoS machines. Many were not provided ration as their biometric authentication failed. Scores of people’s fingerprints were not recognised as “human fingerprints!”
The two organisations alleged that of the 19.5 lakh ration cards in Delhi, online transaction information was only available for 15.5 lakh ration cards. The remaining four lakh ration card holders though linked to Aadhar were unable to procure rations. It is a new form of corruption that enables ration shopkeepers to pilfer and profit, they slammed the Centre.
Wednesday, Kejriwal was at Kamal Haasan’s party launch in Madurai, the only politician present on stage till Kamal turned into politician in front of Kejriwal’s eyes. And right off, Kejriwal injected confrontation in Kamal’s discourse with the DMK and AIADMK. He called both Dravidian parties “corrupt”. His law minister Somnath Bharti smiled sitting next to Kamal on stage. Come to think of it, does Kamal’s expressive eyes betray streaks of anarchy? Kapil Sibal said that of Kejriwal at one time. Wednesday, Kamal told the crowd at his party-launch that Kejriwal is in the league of Abdul Kalam, BR Ambedkar, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi! (IPA Service)