New Delhi: There are three quasi-political developments that need critical evaluation in terms of correctness, propriety and wisdom. These are Nitish Kumar’s direction for the Prime Minister’s Bihar package to be executed by an all-party legislative committee. The second is the local Delhi government’s decision to implement the “even-odd” car formula to contain Delhi’s high pollution levels. Finally, there is the National Herald case where the Congress party has gone on a warpath to protect Sonia Gandhi and her son.

First, the National Herald case. The Congress party has alleged “political vendetta” against the Narendra Modi government. The government has denied this, saying the case related to a private complaint to the courts. What is the proper way to look at the issue?

Political vendetta is indefensible and in the long run has the opposite of the intended effect. Consider the example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Congress party can scarcely deny that it launched a witch-hunt against him no sooner than it became apparent that he would eventually be the BJP’s prime minister candidate. NGOs, tainted intellectuals, activists and officials, and sections of the media were employed and liberally funded to tar Modi. The single point agenda was to convict him. If hanging was not possible, a long jail term would effectively rule him out for the top job. But justice has not been vanquished from Nature. Narendra Modi is Prime Minister, and his party has won an unprecedented Lok Sabha majority.

In other words, political vendetta does not pay. It can also boomerang.

Is the National Herald case one of political vendetta? On the face of it, no. Subramanian Swamy, the principal petitioner in the case, has a long running battle with the Nehru-Gandhi family. He was once close friends with Rajiv Gandhi. The case has come up for trial. With dignity, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi should permit the case to proceed. If they hadn’t obstructed trial, the case would not have gone to the High Court, nor resulted in a preliminary order from there observing “criminality” in the National Herald transactions. The law should be allowed to take its course.

In anger against the National Herald development, the Congress party is preparing to stall the GST Bill in the Rajya Sabha. This is unwise. The Congress leadership should place trust in the courts and not become impediments in the country’s growth and development. Their present tactics appear like pressuring the judiciary which they ought to know would be politically disastrous. The public is aware of the nuances of the case and the Congress would be sorry if public opinion hardens against it. It should squarely face the court proceedings and act responsibly in the Rajya Sabha and cooperate in the quick passage of GST.

Second: the local Delhi government’s “even-odd” car formula. This writer would not distrust the intentions of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on the issue. But the sudden implementation of the formula from New Year 2016 is precipitate and flawed. This writer has no hesitation in saying it will fail, and prove an additional setback for sensible anti-pollution measures. Delhi has a miserable public transport system. The Delhi Metro has already reached its peak carrying capacity and cannot handle additional crowds. Nor does it serve all Delhi, which is understandable, because it is being expanded, and costs large sums of money to build. Taxis and auto-rickshaws cannot meet the shortfall of private transport from the “even-odd” formula, and its operators will resort to extortion, which they are already notorious for. Aggregator taxi companies have raised their fares five times in the wedding season and would naturally further exploit the plight of Delhi citizens.

None of this is to minimize Delhi’s poisonous air which needs remedy. But the “even-odd” formula is a knee-jerk, short-term measure which will collapse in days. The enforcement agencies cannot cope with the pressure of implementation and corruption will rise, this being the character of North India. The people of Delhi will suffer more. Instead, a sensible roadmap to detoxify Delhi should be put in place in cooperation with the Union government. Inter-state lorry movement is a major polluter, and lorries must pay hefty sums to enter Delhi, which will turn them off. Close vigil at the borders is required. The long-term solution is trunk roads bypassing Delhi. Within the city, choke points usually located around urban villages must be cleared and roads expanded and carpeted. The BRT corridor must be restored to normal traffic conditions; presently, it is a mess. Time-bound plans must be made by the Central and local governments to decongest Delhi. Inessential commerce like logistics should be moved to UP with a dedicated logistics airport. All railway stations, bus terminuses, wholesale markets and industrial estates should be linked by Delhi Metro with freight facilities and capacities added for non-rush-hour movement. PSU headquarters, etc, should be relocated outside Delhi. The Centre would know which departments to conveniently move. Finally, the 15-year rule for vehicles must be implemented.

Third and last: Nitish’s committee for the Bihar package. Nitish will know that committees don’t work. He deserves bipartisanship in the matter of legislation but execution and implementation should remain in his hands, because he is the driver of reforms in Bihar. The Opposition in the state should not be obstructive while being watchful of its constitutional obligations. The Centre will be open to Bihar’s aspirations and regeneration as long as it sees good work done for the monies sent and spent, and these fall in Nitish Kumar’s turf. He has done well before and there is no reason to doubt his capabilities now.