AAP MLAs arrested: Arvind Kejriwal and the 'Theatre of the Absurd'

'Theatre of the Absurd', a literary movement popular in Europe for about five decades since the 1940s, had plots without any linear development and emphasized on the absurdity of human existence by placing its characters in purposeless situations. The dialogue was disjointed, repetitious, and mostly meaningless.

In this age of reality TV, Aam Admi Party has taken upon itself to launch a whole political movement based on the European tradition.

But it is one thing to buy a ticket and watch the performance or even have academic papers over it and quite another to suffer the machinations of a party which threatens to bring elements of absurdity in our real lives by virtue of being in power.

Its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, has a permanent seat on the 'moral high ground' table. Yet when AAP members or lawmakers are found on the wrong side of the law, as they unfortunately often are, Kejriwal takes the easiest way out. He deals with these contentious issues by being in denial, often reflexively so, and manages to find a way to blame everything on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

While for the Delhi Chief Minister it may make immense political sense and could even be a testament to his burning ambition (nothing wrong with that) of becoming the Prime Minister by taking the shortest cut possible, it makes for an appalling political theatre where climax and curtains have both proved to be elusive so far.

Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

The latest in never-ending points of friction came when two AAP MLAs were arrested in separate cases on Sunday — one for allegedly threatening to sexually assault a woman and trying to 'mow her down' and another in a case involving desecration of the Quran in Malerkotla, Punjab, taking to 11 the number of its legislators held by police in various cases.

Naresh Yadav, the AAP lawmaker for Mehrauli, was arrested for his suspected role in the alleged desecration of the Quran at Malerkotla in Punjab’s Sangrur district. Torn pages of the holy book was apparently thrown in a drain on 24 June to foment communal tension. Yadav was booked after the main accused, one Vijay Kumar of Haryana, claimed he had done it at the behest of the AAP MLA.

AAP's lawmaker from Okhla, Amanatullah Khan, was taken into custody on the basis of a woman’s complaint that she was abused and molested by a staff member at Khan’s home on 18 July. The complainant, a social activist, said she went there to complain about frequent power cuts in her neighbourhood, Jasola in southern Delhi. She also accused the MLA of trying to run her over with a car after she visited his Batla House home in Jamia Nagar, according to a report in Hindustan Times.

Khan, who is also the Delhi Waqf Board chairman, has also been accused of intimidating the complaint to withdraw her case, according to DCP (southeast) MS Randhawa. He is the third MLA in a month to be arrested on molestation/harassment charges.

Even if he is short of ideas in running an administration smoothly without playing the victim card, Kejriwal is never short of colourful rhetoric. He had earlier accused Modi of evoking 'Emergency'. Now he has called it the second "Dharm Yudh" where obviously, he is the 'Yudhisthira' battling on the side of truth. “He (Modi) could not digest his defeat. They have put all the agencies behind us but could not unearth a single act of corruption. It’s a holy war akin to the war between Kauravas and Pandavas."

In a series of tweets, Kejriwal accused Modi of "arresting his MLAs" and said the PM is "sending Delhiite's to jail on fake cases" just like "Anandiben is doing in Gujarat against Dalits and Patidars" and that "Delhi and Gujarat will fight together".

The last tweet is a reaction to the death of a 14-year-old Dalit girl at Burari in north Delhi who succumbed to her injuries on Sunday after getting raped and force-fed a corrosive substance. Kejriwal seemed to be suggesting that under the PM's orders, police has stopped pursuing criminals and chasing his MLAs instead. The problem with citing the death of a girl to make a political point is that it trivializes a very serious issue and the dead, tragically, becomes a ping-pong ball in a game of one-upmanship.

The AAP had recently accused the BJP of engaging in “politics over corpses” a day after a woman AAP volunteer allegedly committed suicide in outer Delhi’s Narela on 19 July.

The woman, Soni, who resided in outer Delhi's Narela area with her two daughters and other family members, had filed a police complaint on 2 June about party colleague Ramesh Wadhwa for continually harassing her and asking for sexual favours. She even raised the matter in the party but no action was taken against him, she said.

A police officer involved with the case said Soni was unhappy with her party for not initiating any action against her alleged molester.

As the political battle intensified, a news channel shared a video clip where the activist was seen claiming that she was told by Kejriwal to strike a "compromise" with her offender.

It is pertinent to point out that if the cases are false or spurious, our robust judicial system will throw these out and without even Kejriwal's prompting, the Centre will be shown in a very poor light. But the AAP chief must put an end to this sordid drama of persecution complex.

For a party that seeks to move out of the 'activist mode' and hopes to spread its national footprint, Kejriwal must show more maturity as an administrator. These guerrilla attacks on the Prime Minister may increase his 'cult-status' among followers but it creates an atmosphere of bad faith and ill-will among parties which a democracy can ill afford. It denigrates his office and makes frivolous even the most serious of topics.

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Updated Date: Jul 25, 2016 13:01:02 IST

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