Centre, Sheila out of sync
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That the Delhi state has a unique model of governance in the country is not unknown to anyone, least of all to Sheila Dikshit who is serving her third term as Chief Minister. Thus when she picked up not-so-subtle fights with the Home Ministry, which controls the Delhi Police, on several occasions in the last two weeks, it was not just bad timing but also seen as an attempt to use a tragedy for political one-upmanship.
By virtue of being the national capital, and the seat of the central government, Delhi has a slightly complex system of governance where both the Centre and the state government have administrative jurisdictions. It is the only state government in the country not to have a police force of its own. The keenness to have this changed and get the Delhi Police to report to her is perhaps understandable — many argue it is also a legitimate demand — but Dikshit raised it a time and in a manner that sent out a confrontationist message when the need of the hour was to work in a cohesive manner with the Centre to help the victim and assure the protestors and rest of the nation that the government was serious about ensuring safety of women.
Instead, there were several occasions during the two-week ordeal that the rape victim went through that the state government and the Home Ministry seemed completely out of sync with each other. Sheila not just wanted the heads of top officers of the Delhi Police to roll but also complained that they tried to influence the victim's statement in front of the magistrate. Then she wanted the Home Ministry to open the Metro stations and let the protestors gather at India Gate. She also talked about reducing the number of police personnel engaged in VIP security. She met the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to take up these issues. But if all these was aimed at showing solidarity with the angry public — some of her suggestions were quite reasonable, by the way — it did not cut much ice, as was evident when she was booed by the protesting crowd on Saturday.