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Aam Aadmi Party's Arvind Kejriwal
Aam Aadmi Party's Arvind Kejriwal

The hypocrisy of unconventional politics

By Anuj Shrivastava

Arvind Kejriwal’s resignation was a meditated and calculated step exclusively for political gains; it had a clear objective and was in no way unconventional like Aam Aadmi Party’s show of clean politics and good governance (swarajya). After all, how much unconventional can the unconventional be.

AAP is now trying to take another grandstand before the electorate after its faltering Delhi government show that lasted just 49 days. Kejriwal resigned saying the Jan Lokpal Bill was not allowed to be introduced in the Assembly. The Congress and the BJP voted against the Bill being introduced after Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung had written to Speaker M.S. Dhir saying the Jan Lokpal Bill was not in keeping with “procedures” and it should not be considered by the Assembly and advised against tabling it.

Kejriwal refused to follow an order in the rulebook by terming it “unconstitutional”. However, not following an order in place does not strike it down. The only way to get an order anulled is by challenging it in court but then it would not have got any martyrdom. And it was below dignity for Kejriwal’s mobocracy and unconventional politics.

The impugned order will still be there even when, and if, Kejriwal wins 50 seats in Delhi as he claimed in an interview. He may get the Jan Lokpal introduced in the Delhi Assembly and even get it passed, but it would still not get the necessary assent to become a law. All this raises serious questions on the will, conviction and sincerity of Arvind Kejriwal and AAP on the Jan Lokpal Bill. Former A-G Soli Sorabjee has expressed strong reservations against the AAP using his name and legal opinion on the validity of the order to ratify the resignation.

The Times of India reported that hundreds of banners and posters were put up across in Delhi proclaiming AAP’s achievements. The hoardings had started appearing before Kejriwal put in his papers, suggesting that he had already made up his mind to quit. Just two days earlier, the AAP government gave 50% rebate and waiver on penalty dues on electricity bills to 24,036 supporters who participated in ‘Bijli-Paani Aandolan’ last year. The move will cost Rs 6 crore of the taxpayer’s money.

Kejriwal is refusing that he resigned with an eye on a bigger national role and chair. But his statements on the floor of the House stand in a sharp contrast.  In his reply during the debate in Delhi Assembly, he said,

Hum yahan kursi bachane nahi desh bachane aaye hain.

How will a Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill save the country he failed to explain. But this statement evidently exposed his rising aspirations for national politics, riding the current wave of popularity and Delhi Assembly polls’ success.  Power is alluring and addictive and once tasted it induces greed for more.  In his letter to the prime minister, Anna Hazare had said

I believe if a strong Jan Lokpal bill is passed, 60% of corruption will be curbed and common people will get justice.

This was in 2011 when Kejriwal was with Anna.  Now, Arvind Kejriwal says

Jan Lokpal se hum bhrashtachar ko jad se ukhad phenkenge.

The writing had been there on the wall very clearly. The debate in the Delhi Assembly on Friday saw both Congress and BJP speakers telling and then pestering Kejriwal to resign. It had been “enough” for the BJP and the Congress and “enough” for Kejriwal and AAP too. Taking the high moral stand of practicing clean moralistic politics and delivering equitable justice and development was a tall order and easier said than done.

Besides, the AAP had made many lofty and populist but hard-to-fulfill poll promises. The pressure on fulfilling commitments to different voter segments was increasing every day and staying longer in power would have been both burdensome and catastrophical for AAP.

Instead, shunning power, all responsibility and the onerous obligation of fulfilling the poll promises was a lot easier for Arvind Kejriwal. Moreover, it helps him and the party contest the Lok Sabha polls with more vigour and undivided energy, efforts. The resignation was a win-win situation for both Aam Aadmi Party and Kejriwal. Soon after the resignation drama, Kiran Bedi questioned whether it was for Lokpal or Lok Sabha? 

The media has been critical of Kejriwal’s shirking responsibilty, not delivering and even misleading the public on various issues. He has been compared to V.P. Singh, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and even Indira Gandhi. Kejriwal’s direction to anti-corruption bureau to file FIR against Veerappa Moily, Murli Deora, Mukesh Ambani and ex-director general hydrocarbons V.K. Sibal over gas pricing was also an indicator that the AAP was ambitiously looking ahead to Lok Sabha polls.  Power and water subsidies were a big drain on government coffers.

Regularising contractual workers and improving water supply were also steps that had huge financial implications. The contractual workers had started gathering outside Kejriwal’s residence soon after his assuming office and must be feeling cheated. They had voted for getting permanent jobs and were looking ahead to better lives. Their’s was not a three-month power bill subsidy. Performance-wise, there is not much for the party to claim whatever its leaders might say.

A lot more could have been done, more judiciously, sincerely and diligently and a better show for a longer duration would have had its impact on the voters. Voting for the new political party got Delhiites just a pinch of what they had been promised. The Kejriwal government had been dogged by many controversies earlier; a chaotic “Janata Durbar” lead to a stampede-like situation and the whole idea was scrapped ultimately.

Kejriwal had to refuse the two duplex houses on Bhagwan Dass Road initially allotted to him after much uproar and resentment and allegations of not showing the austerity promised before polls. Another controversy surfaced over the issue later once again when media got a letter showing that Kejriwal had made a request for the flats and it was not what he had claimed earlier.

Power tariff was raised once during these 49 days. A Danish woman tourist was gangraped in the heart of the city and this showed that women were no more safer now than during the Sheila Dikshit regime. Then the unconventional turned into unthinkable, unfathomable and the unprecedented. Delhi for the first time ever saw its CM sit on a dharna as Kejriwal, his Cabinet colleagues and a motley crowd of party workers protested outside Rail Bhawan, demanding suspension of four policemen.In absence of public support and the weather turning inclement, the protest was called off a day later after Kejriwal even threatened to stall Republic Day celebrations. 

Two Cabinet ministers came in the news for the wrong reasons. Rakhi Birla lodged an FIR after a cricket ball broke her car windshield and cops filed an FIR against law minister Somnath Bharti for the controversial vigilante midnight raid in Khirki and the alleged manhandling of African women. Somnath Bharti is also accused of being a spammer, scammer, and having some not-so-clear link to porn sites.

The media is digging out the dirt from his past and Bharti has still not come up with a convincing reply to all these allegations. Kejriwal has also failed to reply to these serious charges against his law minister and close confidante Somnath Bharti.  Arvind Kejriwal is also charged with adopting hit-and-run and shoot-and-scoot techniques. He held press conferences against “corrupt” leaders, industrialists, their kin; submitted documents to the police for registering FIRs and then said he did not have material evidence to order probes. Kejriwal and other AAP leaders level unsubstantiated charges against big names to hog news.

AAP leader Ashutosh called L-G a Congress agent and later tweeted that Najeeb Jung worked for Reliance once even though he himself was with IBN7 in which Mukesh Ambani holds a big stake.

Mukesh Ambani runs this country’s government

claimed Kejriwal a day after his resignation.

Mukesh Ambani is behind Modi also. Modi moves in helicopters. From where does he get money to conduct such huge rallies? When we raised fingers against Mukesh Ambani, Congress and BJP joined hands

Kejriwal said.

The question is: What was the real reason for the resignation and the assumptions behind it? Was it a calculated attempt to ride on the wave of popularity after the poll success in Delhi? But will Delhiites vote for AAP again whenever polls are held in Delhi?

That depends on what they think now of the new unconventional politics after the turbulent 49-day experience.

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