The Great Debators: Arvind does a Goel, invites Shiela for debate

Arvind Kejriwal’s challenge to Sheila Dikshit for an open debate, if accepted, may throw up some charged up drama before elections.

Those were Bhartiya Janata Party Delhi President Vijay Goel’s hay days. In the middle of October, when he was sure of being anointed as Chief Ministerial candidate by his party, he had invited current CM of Delhi Shiela Dikshit for a public debate on the absolute collapse of governance in the capital.

The same exercise has been repeated by Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal.

Kejriwal has written to Dikshit inviting her formally for a public debate on various issues including hikes in water and electricity bills.

Interestingly, Dikshit never responded to Goel’s public invitation in which he had attacked Dikshit on the various schemes by the government. “The Delhi government claims of highest per capita income in the capital, if that is the case, then after 15 years of Congress rule, why do you still need to give food security to 72% of the city’s population?” he had said.

Cornering the government on Ladli Scheme, Goel had said the government’s claim of 5 lakh beneficiaries being covered under it does not match with the CAG report that found the scheme’s implementation rate to be 42%.

The BJP leader had also said that the Congress government has completely failed to provide social security to women and the elderly. “The old and women feel extremely vulnerable in this city with skyrocketing crime graph and absence of any social security net for them. Why has Delhi become the “crime capital” and why a number of ghettos have emerged in the city where there has been no development during last 15 years?” Goel had said.

Kejriwal too had told media that he would like to have an open discussion with the chief minister on various issues. Reportedly, he was prompted to write the letter after Dikshit said in a recent interview that she never received any formal communication from him in this regard.

“I have been informed by some members of the media, that you may agree to a public debate if I sent you a formal invitation” wrote Kejriwal, who will contest Delhi assembly election on AAP’s ticket against Dikshit from the New Delhi seat.

Since the commanding hands at BJP now has changed and Dr Harsh Vardhan has been anointed as chief minister candidate by the party, Kejriwal took the opportunity of including his name into the formal letter as well. “I take this opportunity then, to formally you to a public debate. If you agree, we could also invite Dr Harsh Vardhan from the BJP”, he added.

As for format and moderators, Kejriwal said that his only suggestion was that the debate was conducted in a public arena like the Ram Leela ground rather than in a TV studio so that citizens could also ask questions.

Debate in democracies is quite common in the world. Countries like France, US, UK and Australia have this practice. The process not only gives common men a peek into the minds of their leaders, it is also helpful in understanding and developing new ways of better governance.

If Dikshit agrees to Kejriwal’s invitation, the outcomes of the debates will surely be interesting. It may change the political equations in the capital.

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