On 17 June 2015, Atul Dev spoke to senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan over the phone while the latter was on a family vacation in Kashmir, about the first few months of the Delhi government. Dev had sent Bhushan his questions prior to the conversation, through an email. In April this year, Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav—among the founding members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)—were unceremoniously ousted from the party for indiscipline. Since then, Bhushan has been observing the developments in Delhi and the trajectory of the party that he helped found, as an outsider. During the conversation, he spoke about the allegations of corruption against the AAP cabinet ministers, the party’s ongoing fight with Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, and the evolution of Kejriwal into a “hardboiled politician."
Atul Dev: Being a founding member of the AAP, you have had the unusual vantage point of evaluating its second term in office as an outsider, how do you see the AAP government’s first few months in Delhi?
Prashant Bhushan: It has not been an auspicious or inspiring start. Much of the time has been consumed in this dispute with the lieutenant governor [Najeeb Jung] and the central government, dealing with which, I think, they have shown immaturity. With this tendency to keep on fighting without understanding what the correct position is, they have created the risk of President’s rule being imposed in Delhi. Then there are the charges of corruption against its law minister. Perhaps there are some MLAs [Members of Legislative Assembly] trying to do good work in their constituencies, but the confrontational fight with the LG and charges of corruption has overshadowed all that.
AD: Where do you stand on the ongoing tussle between the chief minister and the lieutenant governor in Delhi?
PB: See, legally Delhi is still a union territory under the Constitution; a union territory that has been given an elected government which has some authority. The final authority, however, is still with the lieutenant governor and the union government. So therefore, Kejriwal and the AAP have been on the wrong side of the law in this fight.