Viewpoint – Just What Can Mrs. Sheila Dikshit Do!

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila DikshitDelhi Chief Minister laments the influx of poor Bihari migrants.

[By Mayank Austen Soofi, Picture Source – NA]

In May, 2007, while laying the foundation stone for three more flyovers in the city, Mrs. Sheila Dikshit, Delhi’s Chief Minister, said, “Delhi is seen as a prosperous city. People from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh (UP) and other places come here. What can we do? We can’t stop them. There is no law to stop them.”

Bihar and UP are some of India’s poorest states from where villagers migrate to cities like Delhi and Mumbai in search of better opportunities.

Oh, but just what can Mrs. Dixit do!

Her city has beauty and grace – the classic Connaught Place, the historic Jama Masjid, the mystic Nizamuddin, and the splendorous Rashtrapati Bhawan.

So what if most of the malls and call centers are in neighbouring Gurgaon (in the Haryana state), NOIDA, and Ghaziabad (both in UP)? So what if middle class havens are shifting from Delhi’s Mayur Vihar and Janak Puri to Gurgaon’s DLF and Ghaziabad’s Indirapuram? How does it matter if there is a reverse migration taking place from Delhi to these deluxe-duplex townships of UP and Haryana?

Just what can Mrs. Dixit do!

Not much has changed in spite of the swanky metro rail and mushrooming flyovers. Traffic jams have worsened, power crisis is grim, Yamuna is almost dead, and rape is merely a street away.

Reigning over Delhi since nine years, one could not doubt Mrs. Dixit’s sincerity in trying to improve the living standards. But how to discourage the uncouth wretched of UP-Bihar from coming? One can’t even devise regulations to control their influx. If only Delhi was an undemocratic China.

Just what can Mrs. Dixit do!

Herself a Punjab-born immigrant who once represented UP’s Kannauj constituency in the Lok Sabha, Mrs. Dixit has all that which makes for an oh-so-cool Delhi Walla. Soft-spoken and unfailingly courteous, she studied in the Convent of Jesus and Mary and graduated from Miranda House; her grey hair complements her elegant fabindia sarees; she reads books like Reading Lolita in Tehran, and regularly watches (mostly) English films at PVR.

But woe to the party spoilers – those Biharis and UP-wallas who breed like mice. They rot in slums which you raze one day only for them to spring up at some other place the next day. (Frustrating, frustrating). They clog highways with tuk-tuks and rickshaws, and urinate on the boundary walls of pretty Civil Lines bungalows (Beware of Dog; No Trespassing Allowed). Worse, they defecate beside the railway tracks!

Just what can Mrs. Dixit do!

If Delhi was like Mrs. Dixit, only about high-brow India International Centres, bibliophilic Khan Markets, fashionable Vasant Vihars, uppity LSRs and serene Lodhi Gardens. If only all citizens patronised Kathak in Kamani Auditorium and Madhubani paintings in Dilli Haat. If only all Delhites thought and talked in English.

Just what can Mrs. Dixit do?

So what if Mrs. Dixit’s maid could be from Jharkhand; driver from Bihar; gardener from UP; and security guard from Chhattisgarh? They are necessary people all right but do they need to be so visible? Ah, if wishes were horses.

Just what can Mrs. Dixit do?

End piece:
Mrs. Sheila Dikshit’s statement following the controversy on her faux-pas: “I am fully aware of the contribution made by people coming from outside, especially from UP and Bihar, in the development of Delhi and my statement has been distorted by a section of the media.”