Kejriwal versus Bedi: Why I don't care who the next Delhi CM is

The chief minister is a cross between a mayor and the head of a non-municipal urban development authority.

 |  3-minute read |   29-01-2015
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Till recently, I used to live in Mumbai and now I live in Dehradun. But either way, the future chief minister of Delhi does not interest me much. There. I've said it. I've revealed myself as a reactionary regionalist curmudgeon who does not understand the way India runs. Those who run Delhi run the world, eh? And all former chief ministers of Delhi immediately run the country. There is a great track record of this. No? What? Really, no? Who woulda thunk!

What I do know is that one chief minister of Delhi was called "Auntie" and ruled the city for 7,000 years. The other one ruled Delhi for 49 days, mainly from under a car. This is more knowledge than I have of many chief ministers of India, especially of cities pretending to be states. You can hold a gun to my head and I won't be able to tell you the names of the countless chief ministers of Goa (there was a time when they were all called Wilfred or Churchill which shows how much I know), except of course the current crop of racist, fascist religionists. Those I know. (Ya, I made up that word. Don't know how to spell it though.) Let me spell it out for you in repetition: this is more knowledge than I want to have.

And while all this hoopla is going on, where Mr 49 Days of Experience is contesting his former friend Ms Police Woman The Greatest whose biggest claim to fame is that she towed a car like any traffic constable would in Mumbai, I hear murmurs that Delhi is not even, like, a proper state.

The chief minister is a cross between a mayor and the head of a non-municipal urban development authority. And there is a municipal commission which does all that garbage, sanitation stuff. Though actually I have it on good authority that all the garbage-clearing stuff in India is now done by the prime minister, film stars and CEOs of transnational corporations. As for Delhi, law and order belongs to someone else. The Central government that is, which is another government that also lives in Delhi but is not the same as the Delhi government. Get it? Yeah, it's tough to get your head around these trivialities.

The annual municipal budget of Mumbai is about Rs 30,000 crore, which is the same as the state budget of Delhi. I don't know what they do with all that money. Actually I do. Delhi has many big roads and avenues and trees and flowers and monkeys (no, I am not targeting the human residents, I mean the other species) and a whole squad of langur imitators to frighten the monkeys. I do not know if any other Indian city has such a squad. What a loss for the rest of us.

I must be honest, Delhi also has that very nice Metro railway. There I said it. It's very nice. I have never travelled on the Mumbai Metro because it doesn't go anywhere I want to go but I have wasted many years of my life on Mumbai's local train system. Therefore, I win because I've paid my dibs. Delhi also has fabulous signs outside restaurants like "Guns and ammunition not allowed." Having lived for years in India's most glamorous gangster city (according to the movies anyway), I feel cheated that no Mumbai eateries carry such legends. Bleah.

So Delhi, have a good election. Choose The Car Man or The Car Tower Lady or I believe, even a former Union sports minister. The test after that should be for Delhi to name the chief ministers of all the other Indian states since your "state" election has been foisted on us.

Yes, Dehradun is not a big city. It doesn't even have a chief minister. Woo hoo!


Ranjona Banerji Ranjona Banerji @ranjona

The writer is a senior journalist who writes on media, politics and social issues.

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