What will Arvind Kejriwal do after 16 May?

By Neelakantan

What will Arvind Kejriwal do next? Let us look at the options he has and what that points to.

Before we get there, let us take a close look at his history. He left his job at Tata Steel and joined the IRS which he left soon after. He was elected as Chief Minister of Delhi with Congress support. He quit this post after 49 days and began to campaign against, not, Sonia Gandhi but Narendra Modi. That would be a bit of a googly, after birthing a party from the remnants of the Indian Against Corruption movement which had the Congress party in its crosshairs. But let us leave that aside for the moment. Let us see where will Kejriwal be after 16 May.

Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

It is near impossible that Kejriwal will win in Varanasi against Narendra Modi. Considering he is only fighting one seat, that is perhaps an end to his national political career at this point.

So, will he stand for election again in Delhi?

Let us assume that he does — and we still do not know how his party will perform in the Delhi Lok Sabha polls, where it is fighting all seven seats. By the time a Delhi assembly re-election will be announced. If the verdict on 16 May is towards a BJP-led government, his party could well struggle in those elections – as recent surveys show both Congress and BJP are gaining lost ground in Delhi. After having admitted that his resignation was ill-thought out, does it mean he will go back and fight? And if the electorate will buy that line remains to be seen.

But he may win. And return as a member of Delhi assembly.

But becoming Chief Minister again a second time may well need an alliance with the Congress given the numbers. Is that what he wants from a national footprint perspective? Allying with the Congress again? And what does that mean for his national ambitions – is AAP just another Congress ally?

But that still does not answer a basic question.

What is Kejriwal after?

He gave up Delhi because he could not, ostensibly, pass a Jan Lokpal bill, and that situation has not changed since the time he resigned. Is he planning to govern Delhi - assuming the electorate wants it – given his recent admission that the resignation was ill-thought-out may well indicate that.

Or is he planning to work on building his ragtag party into a national party over the next five years?

Clearly, he did not want to make a difference in Parliament, else he would have contested another seat and come victorious to Parliament and make a difference as an MP.

All of these are tough jobs – CM, AAP National or playing MP. His daily media soundbites will end and he will have to knuckle down to do some solid work through those five years.

And here is where history matters.

History has shown that Kejriwal has not taken responsibility for anything. Neither his job. Nor his government posting. Nor at his elected position. By aiming for Modi (and most likely failing) he has ensured that he will have practically no role in Parliament for the next five years either.

So, is his core competence running away from responsibility? Will he go back to agitprop again? Will he raise rabble in the streets against the new government? And, more importantly, if he does, do people have the patience to bear with him again? Unless he makes a comeback as Chief Minister and continues to raise hell against a new, potentially Modi-led central government?

It would be interesting to watch him after 16 May. Maybe we will then know the answer to the question: Aam Aadmi Party ka haath, kiske saath? Or maybe, even then we won't know.


Published Date: Apr 12, 2014 07:35 pm | Updated Date: Apr 12, 2014 08:45 pm