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A Delhi Drama: The 'Common Man' Chief Minister turns Anarchist
January 20, 2014 10:11 PM   Subscribe

We have the unique instance of a sitting Chief Minister of Delhi labelling himself an anarchist, sitting in protest in the heart of the city, while claiming to conduct government business from the site of his protest and conveniently holding the nation to ransom by threatening to disrupt the the country's annual Republic Day parade due to be held in 5 days.

All this over the unlawful and allegedly racially motivated attempt by his Law Minister to arrest and humiliate some African women on prostitution and drug charges without first showing cause. And they've been brazen enough to forge a letter from the Ugandan embassy supporting their allegations. The professional diplomats are less than pleased.
posted by vanlal (18 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nobody in my family down in Bangalore can take their eyes and minds off this. This is a political car crash.
posted by all the versus at 10:26 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


A bit of an expanded comment here

I really don't care about the politicking here, but the racist Othering of African women, and their clear harassment is just shameful. That the entire protest apparently is to transfer the police officers who didn't follow their racist orders just further shows how depraved the movement has become now.

Also note that, under Indian law, (female) prostitution is entirely legal: solicitation and "running of brothels" are not legal. A woman is free to stand on the kerb by herself, free to offer whatever services she deems fit in the privacy of her bedroom, but can't legally solicit such services (the law somehow uses the word "seduce" as well in this regard, a bit of archaic language there, to put delicately). Nor can her premises be run as a commercial establishment solely for the purpose of providing sexual services. Essentially, the AAP thugs don't know Indian law; that's what you get when you have a law minister who was disbarred from practicing last year for tampering with evidence.

On the letter: apart from the fact that it just doesn't say what they say it does (which is that some mysterious staffer endorsed their actions), I note that the letterhead mentions that the Ugandan High Commission is based out of Anand Niketan, while the website says they're based out of Vasant Vihar. For the sake of AAP's credibility, let's hope the High Commission moved in the past few months.
posted by the cydonian at 11:14 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


On Wednesday night, Delhi Law Minister, Somnath Bharti conducted a self-described midnight "raid" in a South Delhi neighbourhood, and asked the police to arrest Ugandan citizens and raid a house where he alleged they were trafficking drugs and sex. The police refused, saying they had no warrant.

I'm trying to imagine US police forces refusing to follow illegal orders (eg: DNC/RNC convention detainment/arrests). It is difficult. His Law Minister reminds me of Sheriff Joe.

Truly bizarre stuff (and idiotic of them to make their racist ugly local politics a literally international incident when).

Train wreck indeed.
posted by el io at 11:14 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to imagine US police forces refusing to follow illegal orders (eg: DNC/RNC convention detainment/arrests)

Part of the tussle here is that Delhi (to cover the cities of Delhi, New Delhi and some other municipalities) has a state government, but that the state government doesn't have all the powers that other states in India have. Notably, unlike in other states, the Delhi Police is under the central (ie, federal) government's control; essentially, those officers don't report to these guys.

That's part of the reason why you have this agit-prop nonsense unfolding; seems like the AAP politicians have had their egos bruised because the police did not follow their orders.
posted by the cydonian at 11:28 PM on January 20


This is just righteous rage given fuel by the elections.

Sad thing is, there's probably truly limited potential to root out corruption in any substantial manner by 'sober' governance. It'd just be playing musical chairs. The game is rigged. Not that these missteps and overreach will fare much better.
posted by Gyan at 11:29 PM on January 20


Notably, unlike in other states, the Delhi Police is under the central (ie, federal) government's control; essentially, those officers don't report to these guys.

Yes. The situation seems more like Sheriff Joe trying to get the FBI to play along.
posted by jaduncan at 12:20 AM on January 21


Sad thing is, there's probably truly limited potential to root out corruption in any substantial manner by 'sober' governance. It'd just be playing musical chairs. The game is rigged.

I agree, but looking at the tough, non-negotiable stances being taken here by the CM and his party minions, this is escalating into something beyond missteps. I'm increasingly concerned that the governance situation is slowly degenerating into appeals to the Mob.

I'm hoping somebody sobers up fast and starts to deescalate things.
posted by all the versus at 12:50 AM on January 21


governance situation is slowly degenerating into appeals to the Mob.

AAP's rise is based on antiestablishmentarianism viz. Congress/BJP. They can either appeal to the establishment or the mob. Hardly surprising which one they chose.
posted by Gyan at 2:05 AM on January 21


the cydonian: "... just further shows how depraved the movement has become now."

Treating it as a uniform movement is possibly giving it too much credit. It is a reaction - not an ideology - in the form of a political party, to which a number of different sorts have hitched their wagon.

Here in my South Delhi suburb, the AAP candidate was a seemingly well-intentioned youngster with a track record of social service and no previous political affiliations. Voters turned out in record-setting numbers - many for the first time ever, both to vote AAP and to try to contain them. Sure enough, he uprooted a safe BJP seat. I don't get the impression that this specific candidate set out to represent the kind of idiotic vigilantism and brinksmanship being pulled by the AAP leaders now. But here we are - like it or not, this is what the party stands for now. I can't see how they could possibly come back from this.
posted by vanar sena at 5:25 AM on January 21


I must confess, I hadn't been paying especially close attention to the AAP except in the most superficial way, and have been very unpleasantly surprised by this turn.

I still sort of wonder if the Khobragade clusterfuck wasn't in some sense encouraged to draw attention away from the AAP just as they were getting started, and that this is their lunatic attempt to draw attention back.

At any rate, I guess what I'm saying is, wtf is going on.
posted by aramaic at 6:07 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


"WTF is going on?!" is precisely what's going through everyone's minds.

One commentator opines that the AAP having risen beyond their level of competence are going back to what they know best and doing it in a blaze of glory.

The Hindu, a widely respected Indian newspaper, published this piece about the AAP's leader.
posted by vanlal at 7:49 AM on January 21


They closed that article with a great line: "yet another politician who has resorted to politics as his last refuge"
posted by aramaic at 7:57 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Treating it as a uniform movement is possibly giving it too much credit. It is a reaction - not an ideology - in the form of a political party, to which a number of different sorts have hitched their wagon.

That's fair actually, and was a reaction to the idiots on my Facebook stream who digest every talking point from Central as a directive, and have been arguing that harassing a bunch of African women is valid "collateral damage" for keeping Delhi's streets clean. It is all shocking and mystifying to me, this (to me) sudden racist streak.

Here's a good article on race relations in that locality: http://in.news.yahoo.com/somnath-bharti-and-the-terrible--everyday-racism-of-a-south-delhi-mohalla-045401258.html All kinds of heartbreaking, actually.
posted by the cydonian at 7:58 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


the cydonian: "sudden racist streak"

It's not sudden, it's always been there. This is only the first time it's had the opportunity to manifest itself this publicly.
posted by vanar sena at 8:33 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


The average Dilliwallah's attitude to people who look different is deplorable. I lived in Delhi through school, college and early adult life and faced that open hostility often because I look 'Chinees'.

The sit-in seems to be at an end. The Lieutenant Governor of Delhi offered a compromise which has been accepted by the AAP.
posted by vanlal at 8:34 AM on January 21


Ugh the *comments.* In some people ethnocentrism is so deeply ingrained that hey either don't understand what racism is or don't understand why it's wrong. "Of course these foreigners are inferior. Didn't you just hear me say that they're foreign?"
posted by 1adam12 at 10:20 AM on January 21


The Hindu's editorial on the whole affair.
posted by vanlal at 11:48 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]




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