Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party hops from farce to farce: How far is the leap to tragedy?

It’s difficult to tell whether tragedy follows farce or farce follows tragedy. In the case of the Aam Aadmi Party, non-stop farce carries the hint of the tragic.

Two weeks ago, the Kumar Vishwas episode had the party in turbulence, last week it was Kapil Mishra who caused a stir by directly accusing Arvind Kejriwal of taking bribe; and this week it seems party legislator Sanjeev Jha, who tried to stage a tit-for-tat fast to take on Mishra, is out to grab some media attention. One should now expect someone else from the party to steal the limelight with fresh antics.

File image of Arvind Kejriwal. Getty Images

File image of Arvind Kejriwal. Getty Images

With every unsavoury episode hitting the headlines, the party sinks a notch deeper into the morass it finds itself in. With no credible answers to the questions on corruption being raised frequently, its credibility dips quicker. The response to all the charges from the party has been awkward and unconvincing to say the least.

"It is not that all the charges have substance and will end up in the conviction of one or a few people," said a former senior leader of the party, adding, "But the response reveals that the leaders are confused and nervous." He said Mishra’s allegation that Kejriwal received a Rs two-crore bribe is difficult to prove given it's a 'my word against your word' situation. The government may have some explaining to do in the tanker probe, but the real test will be the PWD scam involving Arvind Kejriwal’s late brother-in-law Surendra Kumar Bansal. "I have had access to the bills produced in the case and most of them are clearly fake," he asserted.

Asked whether the party would survive even if the government and Kejriwal emerged unscathed in the corruption cases, he replied that the chances are bleak. "Kejriwal may not be corrupt, at least not as yet in the absence of proof, but this cannot be said about people around him. They are out to make quick gains. Again, it is his trait to use people and dump them that will keep the party unstable."

This is what many once close to the AAP leadership will concede. The result is factionalism and intense competition among leaders with little consequence to be close to him. Instability is thus built into the party’s structure. It means there will be more Kapil Mishras speaking out from time-to-time. They say the BJP has a vested interest in trying to cause trouble in the party and harassing it otherwise, but why do you blame them when you cannot hold your own flock together?

It is not the Opposition's job to see you comfortable in power.

Most of the issues raised by Mishra have been in the public domain. So what could be the new allegation against it? Mishra has hinted at a scandal in the mohalla health clinics, details of which he will reveal in a few days. There could be some other issue to which nobody is privy so far. Ironically, it is the AAP’s shoot-and-scoot tactic that has back to haunt it. There may not be any substance to the allegations, but the allegations in themselves are enough to demoralise the party’s cadre and hurt the confidence of the leadership.

Worse is the impact of the damage to the public perception of the party. The results of the civic body elections have already exposed how sharp the slide has been in less than three years. The more farces that surface, the more the AAP looks headed for a tragedy. With no visible signs of the party or Kejriwal making efforts at course-correction, the inevitable is quite predictable.

Perhaps it is no more a question of if, it is a question of when.

Updated Date: May 15, 2017 16:07 PM

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