On her chin

Surely three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit can take a few hits from a new challenger

Published: June 22, 2013 5:38:26 am

Surely three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit can take a few hits from a new challenger

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s political advisor,Pawan Khera,has seen fit to write to Arvind Kejriwal,chief of the Aam Aadmi Party,to give him some lessons on “Delhi’s dignified political culture”. In his letter,Khera reminds Kejriwal,cast as the outsider,that he is an “educated man”,that his attacks are directed at “a lady”,that the AAP’s campaign against her shows disrespect to women in general,that the less said about the “cultural background” of her detractors,the better. Lavender-scented snobbery aside,the letter seems to betray a splendid ignorance of the rough and tumble of politics,the robust trading of barbs that it entails. Delhi’s culture,political and otherwise,has not exactly been feted for its decorum.

Khera was reacting to AAP’s autorickshaw campaign,which had gained strength after the Delhi government banned the display of posters on these vehicles. The posters blame the government for corruption and the rise in power tariffs; some of the attacks on the chief minister are arguably crude and personal. Yet,as Khera’s letter mentions,Dikshit belongs to an established national party and has been elected three times as chief minister. Her reputation as a politician and administrator can probably survive a few hits from a new rival. For Kejriwal,just entering the fray and taking on the doyenne of Delhi politics,it is essential to up the ante ahead of the assembly polls this year. With its bevy of manifestos and its crowdsourced agenda,the AAP is yet to find a coherent political voice.

But the current fracas,Khera’s cringemaking admonitions aside,also frames the protean nature of India’s politics. The entry barriers are high and established players occupy most of the political space. Yet it still has place for new and impudent challengers who can potentially unsettle the equations and inject frissons of uncertainty into the polity.

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