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Madness of King Kejriwal: AAP dons its khap panchayat avatar

The many voters who rushed to embrace Arvind Kejriwal in the Delhi elections could scarcely suspect the ugly Hyde-ian alter-ego that lurked behind his unassuming persona. We were therefore slow to recognise that Somnath Bharti was not some loose cannon but rather embodied Kejriwal's inner monster -- apparently, a racist, misogynist thug -- who is now running amok.

The Aam Aadmi Party's decision to release a series of videos -- as proof of its moral rightness -- makes it clear that Kejriwal's support of Bharti and his actions reflects not political expediency, but ideological agreement. It reveals a willingness to shame women, willfully violate their privacy to justify moral policing of the most illegal kind. But what is more shocking is what passes as 'proof' of illegal and immoral activity in the AAP worldview.

The video titled 'Condoms and Liquid spilled in Private' shows some damp patches, a bottle of water on the car floor, and strips of condoms in the dashboard -- some with empty wrappers. There is no evidence of illegal activity. The condoms constitute damning proof only if one subscribes to the notion that having lots of (safe) sex makes a woman a prostitute. In the AAP court of law, female promiscuity is a punishable crime. Now we are in khap panchayat territory.

The title of the two 'Naked in front of police' videos represents the worst kind of mendacity. The clip of an African man -- seemingly out of his mind -- running around naked on the road in the middle of the day has no relevance to Bharti's raid on the four women. It's not even clear whether this is Khirki or some other part of Delhi. The video -- and its carefully selected title -- exists purely for shock value, to titilate the potential viewer into thinking the Ugandan women were caught naked by the police that night. No matter that the video proves nothing of the sort. The insinuation has been made about the character of these women. Mission accomplished.

Arvind Kejriwal in this file photo. AP

Arvind Kejriwal in this file photo. AP

Over and again, the videos try to pass off innuendo as proof. The footage of 'One girl caught' shows the police chasing an African woman (presumably in the course of the Bharti raid, though it isn't clear), with the camera man panting as he tries to keep up. She is finally caught by the police and then made to walk with them. But there is no information on who this woman is, or why she is being taken into custody, or whether she committed any crime that warrants this harassment. Just the fact of her running away from the AAP goons and police is sufficient to establish her guilt.

The one titled 'Trying to hide drugs' is perhaps the worst of the lot. It shows a car filled with people and the police trying to get them to step out. You can also hear members of a television media crew talking in the background. There is no sign of drugs -- or "exchange of white powder" as alleged by AAP spokesperson Dilip Pandey -- anywhere in the footage. Here again, merely being questioned by cops -- on the instigation of AAP no less -- constitutes definitive guilt.

That these videos were accompanied by documents publishing the names and addresses of the women makes this perhaps the most egregious violations of individual privacy in recent times. In comparison, the camera crews who accompanied  Hindutva thugs when they raided a Mangalore resort look downright sensitive.

This, then marks the first definitive achievement of the newly formed AAP government. On their 28th day in power, they have decisively taken on the mantle of the moral brigade. Behold, Delhi's very own Shiv Sena! Rightwing thugs across Delhi are likely hanging their head in shame.

But here's the good news: Now we know. Now there is no longer any excuse for making excuses -- either for Kejriwal or for those who will choose to stand with him and his brand of mob politics, be it Yogendra Yadav or Medha Pathkar or Captain Gopinath or Meera Sanyal. It's time for all of them to take a stand, to revolt against the madness of King Kejriwal.