As senior advocate Ram Jethmalani quit as Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's counsel in the Arun Jaitley defamation case, it is evident that Kejriwal is in the middle of another controversy. The news comes a day after Kejriwal filed an affidavit before the Delhi High Court saying that he never authorised Jethmalani to use the 'crook' slur against Jaitley.
The affidavit comes at a time when Kejriwal has kept mum about a lot of incidents and political issues. The chief minister has not been his usual 'loud' self since AAP lost in the Punjab and Goa Assembly polls.
Even throughout the presidential election, AAP remained on the sidelines and all that the chief minister managed to tell the MLAs was that they should vote according to their conscience.
"We are supporting Meira Kumar. All should vote following their conscience," Kejriwal, who cast his vote in the Delhi Assembly, said in response. "In a democracy, whoever gets more votes wins," Kejriwal added. The chief minister did not react much to reports of cross-voting among his MLAs either.
For a man who would conduct dharnas and protests and would not stop short of slamming any one he did not agree with, Kejriwal has not been half as aggressive when it came to BJP fielding Kovind as a presidential candidate.
Even on the issue of Sikkim standoff, unlike other Opposition leaders, Kejriwal remained quiet. According to Hindustan Times, Opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi had questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s "silence" on China, and had also met the Chinese ambassador to India.
According to The Indian Express, after the border tussle at Dolam plateau started, China's ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, went to meet Rahul, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, his son Gaurav, former national security advisor Shivshankar Menon, and even the Darjeeling district magistrate. All this while, Kejriwal remained behind the curtains watching it all but not taking any stand.
In recent times, AAP's method has been to support West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee or defend her in order to make Kejriwal and his aides presence clear.
According to The New Indian Express, a day after Banerjee and governor Keshari Nath Tripathi got into a spat over the communal flare-up following an objectionable Facebook post by a student in West Bengal, Aam Aadmi Party had come out in support of the TMC government and called for Opposition unity to fight the “communal BJP” before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, it was AAP leader Ashutosh who was making the right noise while Kejriwal stayed out of it.
On 3 July, denouncing the recent incidents of alleged mob lynchings "in the name of religion and cow", Kejriwal had said that the country needs to be protected from "this politics of hate".
He had said that if people decide not to fall prey to this "politics of hate", then the "leaders behind this" will get a message that such acts will not be tolerated. Kejriwal had also castigated the Centre for rolling out the GST "without proper preparation" even though he lauded the "basic concept" behind the new tax law. The GST will lead to a burgeoning of inflation, he had said. However, stronger remarks and calls for protest were missing from the AAP leader's plans and actions.
While Lalu Prasad Yadav has urged all non-BJP parties to unite for 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Kejriwal has not reciprocated much by responding to the Bihar political crisis. It is like Kejriwal has given up several opportunities to call out at the Centre and decided to make a whimper once and twice just to make his presence felt because he is still the AAP chief and he still has to hold the rein.
Besides, even as several parts of the country got inundated after heavy rain, Kejriwal chose an indifferent stance.
Kejriwal's silence may not just be a consequence of his party's consecutive defeats at the polls, as there are other issues that are plaguing the Delhi chief minister and his party.
AAP has been going through a rough time with PWD scam, internal rifts within the party laid bare by sacked minister Kapil Mishra, and issues with Kumar Vishwas. As a party that was one of the top Opposition parties in 2014 Lok Sabha election, AAP has been relegated to the corner and has a huge amount of dirt shoved under the carpet that peeps out on occasions. Kejriwal has not been able to do much either to save the grace of the party.
Interestingly, according to Financial Express, during the swearing-in ceremony of Ram Nath Kovind, Kejriwal did not get a seat. Whether this was BJP's way of saying 'not welcome' or just a coincidence, his rivals definitely had a few chuckles at the Delhi chief minister's expense.
The mounting financial pressure of the defamation case may also have taken a toll of the chief minister. While on Wednesday Jethmalani has footed a bill of Rs 2 crore after quitting as his counsel, the Delhi High Court imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on Arvind Kejriwal after he failed to file his response to a fresh Rs 10 crore defamation suit
filed by Union minister Arun Jaitley.
As a Firstpost article raises the imperative question, "So is it the beginning of the end of Kejriwal? Let’s not be diplomatic about it and say nobody can be written off in politics. His end has genuinely begun. The writing was clear on the wall after his party’s disastrous performance in the Delhi civic body polls." Perhaps, the moment could have been saved had Kejriwal sustained the energy he had invested in his dharnas when he had started.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jul 26, 2017 17:31:02 IST