There is honour even among thieves. But the phrase seems alien to Aam Aadmi Party leaders. Like ill-tempered kids, its top brass keeps getting involved in ugly fights every few months, behaving in a manner that would put even bad divorces to shame.
When they turn against each other one by one — a phenomenon as certain as dusk after a bright day that an Arvind Kejriwal vs Manish Sisodia slugfest may just be around the corner — they don't leave out a single punch, dart or a nasty slur, and finally end up rolling in muck straight from a sty. If this is how the so-called educated, urban elite behaves on entering politics, there must be something seriously wrong with our value system.
The no-holds-barred fight between Kapil Mishra and Kejriwal and coterie is a classic example of how the AAP has behaved over the past two years. Just a few days ago, Mishra was Kejriwal's trusted lieutenant, the bellicose face of the party. Such was the bonhomie that they seemed to be linked by an invisible umbilical cord.
Nobody knows what transpired over the past few days — clash of egos or BJP conspiracy — but they are now at each other's throats. Mishra, who owes his politics to Kejriwal, is now threatening to get the Delhi chief minister incarcerated, wiped out from politics and mercilessly attacking his anti-corruption credentials. In return, Kejriwal's corner is accusing Mishra, who was part of the inner coterie, of being a BJP stooge, a publicity-seeker and an incompetent minister.
The pattern, right from Shazia Ilmi's ouster to the dragged-by-the-coattails expulsion of Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav to the near-revolt by Kumar Vishwas, is simple: at first, its leaders behave like brothers separated at birth, united by politics. Then after a few months, their egos start clashing. Once that happens, they drag each other into the marketplace by the hair and quarrel so shamelessly that it becomes difficult to believe that these same men had been hugging and kissing just a few days ago.
Bashir Badr once wrote: "Dushmani jam kar karo, lekin ye gunjaish rahe, jab kabhie hum dost ho jaaen to sharminda na hon. (Don't take enmity to such levels that if we become friends again, the past embarrasses us)." Obviously, the AAP leaders have not heard of being civil even in enmity.
One of the defining images of the AAP movement is the sight of AAP leaders, standing shoulder to shoulder at Ramleela Maidan after the party's thumping win in the 2015 Assembly polls. The mind goes back to the frozen frame of Kejriwal standing in the middle and Kumar Vishwas striding up and hugging him with a mix of joy, elation and affection. But, such is the bad blood among them now that God forbid if they were to face each other in Ramleela Maidan, there would be mayhem, a veritable exposition of dog-eat-dog.
The rampant ugliness of their behaviour makes it impossible to have an iota of respect for any of them. All of them look like egoistic, narcissists who have a degree in backstabbing, treachery and fratricide.
Mishra's sudden desire of turning into a whistle-blower, for instance, would have had a louder ring of credibility if he had spoken out before being sacked as a minister. But its timing makes him sound like the proverbial cat scratching the pole out of sheer frustration and a desire for revenge.
Even if he is telling the truth about Arvind Kejriwal accepting unaccounted cash from Satyendar Jain, Mishra needs to explain why he sat on the incident for so many days? If he was indeed racked by his conscience, driven by morality, why did he speak out only after being sacked?
Kejriwal, on his part, looks like someone who specialises in surrounding himself with back-stabbers, people with huge gaps in their moral tapestry. Prima facie, Mishra's allegation that the Delhi chief minister took Rs 2 crore from his minister means just two things. Either Kejriwal, the self-proclaimed anti-corruption crusader, was daft and desperate enough to accept a petty amount in front of an eyewitness. Or, he presides over a political culture where personal ambition and vendetta are the defining principles.
Of course, Kejriwal deserves all of it. For months, he specialised in ye-sab-chor-hain-ji brand of politics defined by his shoot-and-scoot politics. He propagated a culture where everyone used their colleagues as a stepping stone to success and then, once they had outlived their utility, discarded them ruthlessly, stripping them of their last vestige of dignity.
The silver lining: Now that they are calling each other thieves, let us hope somebody might look up the meaning of honour and dignity.
Published Date: May 08, 2017 09:29 pm | Updated Date: May 09, 2017 08:01 am