Kejriwal sacrifices Asim Ahmed Khan for headlines and moral high ground

Arvind Kejriwal has a penchant for the spectacular. Perhaps it’s in the fitness of things that the politician created by prime time news would sack a minister amid the glare of television cameras.

Now, the Delhi Chief Minister has outdone himself by throwing out a corrupt minister live on national television. Asim Ahmed Khan, the Minister for Food and Environment, got the boot after alleged nexus with a builder came to light through an audio recording. His case has been referred to the CBI. We should be lauding an action like that from any leader. Why are we complaining then?

 Kejriwal sacrifices Asim Ahmed Khan for headlines and moral high ground

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a file photo. PTI

Well, to begin with, Kejriwal’s show of sincerity in taking on graft does not look convincing anymore. Even when he says "I will not even spare my son, Manish or anyone else if he is corrupt." He has been saying something similar too often over the last few years and it has lost its impact from overuse. What he tends to ignore is that he has transitioned into a regular politician now. Nobody believes he is the anti-corruption crusader he was three years ago.

“We are not here for power,” he said. Well, the audience would have applauded it two years ago. When he quit after his 49-day first stint as chief minister in late 2013 citing he was not being allowed to introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill, Delhi’s masses and classes bought it without a grudge. After all, he was new to politics and the BJP and the Congress were taking advantage of the AAP lacking the majority on its own. Despite many fracases involving the party, they trusted the man behind it. The hangover of the anti-corruption still lingered.

He could still indulge in grandstanding and taking high moral ground on issues involving the political class. But not so after he stormed back into power winning 67 of Delhi’s 70 assembly seats. The reputation of some of the candidates was always in question – expelled senior leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav claim they had brought it to the notice of the leadership but they were ignored. Between routine cribbing about Prime Minister Modi, the BJP and everyone in general there were cases of Jitender Singh Tomar and Somnath Bharti putting the party in unedifying light. When he claims that BJP does nothing against leaders like Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, he in fact, looks pathetic.

Was there any need to make a spectacle of the sacking of the minister? Perhaps not. He could have been simply asked to put in his papers. If there’s a story within a story, we don’t know it yet. But we know this for certain: Kejriwal likes two things, national headlines and taking moral high ground. And when Asim Khan gave him both these on a platter, Kejriwal grabbed it.

It does not matter that the reputation of his own colleague is sullied and his guilt prejudged even before his case is taken up by the CBI. If it has the potential to show Kejriwal as some kind of an anti-corruption messiah, it’s all for a worthy cause. If this is the chance for him to wash off all bad memories of sticking by Somnath Bharti and Tomar to the point of losing his own credibility, this 180 degree turn in dealing with this case is perfectly justified.

Updated Date: Oct 12, 2015 20:37:07 IST