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Resentment building up against Sheila Government

By Sujay Mehdudia

NEW DELHI, NOV. 16. As the Sheila Dikshit Government readies itself for its sixth year in office, strong resentment has started building up against several "anti-people'' decisions of the Congress regime indicating that the "honeymoon'' is finally over. It is not only the people of Delhi who are feeling the "pinch'' but also her own Congress party's MLAs who are upset with "marginalisation'' of the elected representatives by the political leadership.

Political observers are of the view that the Sheila Dikshit Government, which has had an almost smooth sailing for the past five and a half years, suddenly seems to have run into roadblocks. The sharp increases in power tariffs, despite dipping efficiency levels of the private power distribution companies, the decision to increase water charges and the now proposed increase in DTC bus fares have come as one bombshell after another for the common man. Coupled with this, the laxity of the Delhi Government in disciplining the private power companies and bending over backwards to accommodate them with little effort to protect the interests of the consumers has added to the growing resentment against the Congress Government, which till the other day enjoyed huge popularity.

The Sheila Dikshit regime will technically complete six years in office on December 4 but the performance of the Council of Ministers has left a lot to be desired. It is the Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, who is virtually running the show single-handedly in view of the below par performance of her Cabinet which is all the more reason for effecting a change in the portfolios of the Ministers. On the other hand, ever since S. Regunathan took over as the Chief Secretary in the Delhi Administration, the bureaucracy has become over-dominating, marginalising the role of the elected representatives in the process. It is not only the legislators who are crying foul against the bureaucrats, but also the Cabinet Ministers who feel that a "deliberate attempt'' has been made to thrust on them those very officials who are inconvenient to them but are loyal to the Chief Minister or the Chief Secretary.

"There is a growing feeling in political circles that in its sixth year in office, the Congress Government has lost focus from "protecting the interests'' of the common man to going out of the way to appease private companies and individuals whose performance has left a lot to be desired. The track record of the senior most bureaucrat in the administration indicates that he was `responsible' for the downfall of two Ministers in the previous BJP regime by pursuing illogical policies and this time round he might claim another hi profile victim in the Congress Government,'' a senior Minister remarked.

Political observers feel that when political leadership starts diverting from the people's programme and fall for advice from bureaucracy, it is bound to face trouble both inside and outside the Government. "It might not be out in the open, but resentment is fast building up against the style of functioning of the Chief Minister as well as the Chief Secretary. The MLAs are being given step-motherly treatment and many of them claimed that not a single suggestion or request by them is taken seriously by the officers. "Ms. Dikshit might think that by not effecting transfers, postings or listening the MLAs she is preventing corruption in some form. However, corruption still continues but at a different level where rates are fixed for transfer, posting and for filling up government job vacancies. It is the officers at the various levels who are making money and we think that corruption has been eliminated,'' another Minister stated, indicating the level of resentment.

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