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Kejriwal’s hands tied, Delhi Police under Home Ministry? No one muzzled his mouth

By Rakesh Sharma*
#DelhiRiots #VigilanteViolence #DelhiBurning
AAP aur Hum/ आप और हम:
What terrible irony!
2012: Water cannons used against Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) protestors.
2020: Water cannons used to disperse JNU, Jamia protestors outside chief minister Kejriwal’s residence.
Gandhi never hid behind police barricades. Nehru jumped into a hostile, bloodthirsty crowd in 1947, daring them to harm him first. During the 1993 Mumbai riots, my hero, Sunil Gavaskar thought nothing of putting himself between a murderous mob and their defenceless victim!
It is such moments that define and make a man, transform him into a hero or a great leader. It is actions that speak aloud, not Rajghat photo-ops, anguished social media posts, helpline memes or template tweets from the IT cell to rebut critiques!
Yes, we know electoral compulsions caused an enforced, politically expedient silence. But what explains it since February 12, the day after AAP returned to power with such a massive mandate?
Any political leader worth his salt has his finger on the pulse of the people. Hard to believe that Kejriwal was or is in any way unaware of the mass anti-National Register of Citizens (NRC)/ Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in dozens of cities and small towns across the length and breadth of India! Or the deep fear and anxiety it has caused among those who voted for him overwhelmingly.
Delhi has been on the boil for over 2 months. A period that saw police brutality and organised violence at Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru (JNU). Incidents of firing at peaceful protestors by Hindutva hotheads. 
Provocative speeches and incendiary slogans by BJP leaders. Large-scale fear and anxiety among people about having to prove their Indianness, their citizenship, or become a foreigner in your own land, left to rot inside detention camps, as no other country would accept erstwhile Indian citizens, now suddenly declared dubious.
That’s why when I saw the Kejriwal-Shah pic, smiling and exchanging bouquets, I hoped that the first thing they discussed was the ongoing protests in Delhi. Only to hear Arvind Kejriwal say -- Shaheen Bagh was not discussed! Why on earth not?
Yes, we know Kejriwal’s hands are tied as Delhi Police is under the Home Ministry through the LG. But no one muzzled his mouth, preventing him from issuing firm, categorical statements that AAP government will resist new-format NPR, or any kind of discriminatory NPR. 
No one has tied his legs to prevent him from walking across to any protest site. To be and among his own people, hearing their concerns, calming their fears, reassuring them of his support and solidarity.
As someone who saw the birth of AAP as a ray of hope and as its erstwhile supporter, this is terribly disappointing.
I’m well aware that upset AAP supporters will respond with outrage, repeat some basic homilies especially about realpolitik, perhaps even question my intentions or sanity, certainly my understanding of politics in India. This post will be flooded with screenshots of tweets, ‘proving’ AAP is hyper-active on the ground. 
Many will assume I do not know Delhi Police is under lieutenant governor (LG)/ Home Ministry and proceed to educate me in ways polite and otherwise. Their trolls will even tell me how I’m a closet Sanghi, Congi stooge or worse, as they’ve done in the past in response to any criticism of their Supremo, with the same force and zeal as Modibhakt trolls!
To repeat - actions speak louder than any words!
Let’s see. Will Education Minister Sisodia visit and spend time at Jamia and JNU? Assist the brutalised students in their quest for justice to ensure that the guilty are apprehended, prosecuted and punished. Whether it is Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) goons who got mobs into JNU, or the cops who fired teargas shells into libraries, brutally assaulted research scholars, or the Hindutva hothead gunmen who fired on campus?
Now that even Nitish Kumar has discovered a spine and Bihar Assembly has passed resolutions, it’ll be interesting to watch what the AAP government does
Now that even Nitish Kumar has discovered a spine and Bihar Assembly has passed resolutions, it’ll be interesting to watch what the AAP government does. Will they hold an Emergency Assembly Session and pass resolutions like Kerala and several other state governments have done?
Will they refuse to implement the new-format NPR, the formal first step towards NRC? Will they join citizens in protesting against the discriminatory CAA-NRC? Take the lead to forge a national forum of opposition parties? Or at least join hands with them? Or facilitate the RSS-BJP plan through silences, inaction or tokenisms?
We will know soon enough.
All leaders make mistakes. Good leaders are those who accept and acknowledge their errors to do course corrections. Great leaders are those who stand with the people, whatever be the political or electoral costs in the short-term (And AAP doesn’t need to worry for years, till Punjab or Delhi re-elections!). Time to talk, clearly, unambiguously. And then, to walk that talk!
***
PS: I documented and filmed Modi-Shah and their Gujarat extensively between 2002-12. I’ve been a keen observer of Indian politics, especially Hindutva polity, for 30+ years. So, the infamous Gujarat Model now unfolding in Delhi is no surprise to me. Nor do I expect the prime minister (PM)/ home minister (HM) of India to react in a manner dissimilar to the way they responded as chief minister (CM)/ HM of Gujarat in 2002!
Yes, I know Amit Shah is the Home Minister, or that we must critique him and demand his resignation for the ongoing horrific Delhi violence, even if it is pointless.
But, are we not even entitled to ask questions and demand answers from those who promised change and elicited our support in the name of a newer kind of politics?
---
* Film-maker and a student of politics, history, literature, society and human behaviour. Source: Author’s Facebook timeline

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