Rebirth through harakiri: Kejriwal needs to go beyond rhetoric

The Congress party, which was supporting the government, also came out all guns blazing against AAP.

FP Politics February 15, 2014 09:59:46 IST
Rebirth through harakiri: Kejriwal needs to go beyond rhetoric

Chroniclers will be bewildered when they try to capture the 49 days of governance of Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi under Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. From a spectacular show in the polls but falling short of a majority, forming a government supported by an arch rival, the AAP government in Delhi attempted to deliver all pre-poll promises in the shortest possible time even if that meant offending those who are key to the government's survival.

Not everbody is taking what AAP is offering at face value. Questions were raised from the very beginning why the government was formed with Congress support even if it was not formally sought. Political pundits, including AAP's strategists,  always knew that this bonhomie would never last long. Some believe that Kejriwal was never interested in governing Delhi and he was always looking for a cause to exit so that he could launch himself to the national platform ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. And the botched effort to introduce Jan Lokpal Bill in the Delhi Assembly just provided him with that.

Rebirth through harakiri Kejriwal needs to go beyond rhetoric

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal shows his resignation letter to AAP supporters while addressing them at the party office in New Delhi on Friday. PTI

"Kejriwal always looked to resign from the first day. He took a huge gamble. The critics will call him an escapist and that he ran away from responsibilities. Kejriwal will believe that he will have a halo of martyrdom on the issue of Jan Lokpal. This was a jump to the national level in view of the Lok Sabha elections ahead," CNN-IBN, editor-in-chief, Rajdeep Sardesai said during a panel discussion on the channel.

"He needed an aam aadmi issue to galvanize support and the Jan Lokpal Bill gave him just that. The urban middle class is already questioning this recklessness. Only people below a certain income level are still supporting him. He wants to keep the left of centre space occupied by trying to fire off the shoulders of Mukesh Ambani. The real target is Lok Sabha. Kejriwal's politics is of turbulence to capture the Indian mindspace," Sardesai said.

Outlook Group's editorial chairman Vinod Mehta was disappointed with the manner in which Kejriwal put in his papers.

"This is the end of a dream. The revolution has debarred itself. Instead of finding ways and means to govern, Kejriwal quit at the drop of a hat. This gamble will boomerang on him. The urban middle class will view the party as reckless demagogues," Mehta said.

"Their first instinct is to resign. It cannot be my way or highway. They should try and find a way thorough compromise. The great hope in Indian politics has come crushing down," he said.

He was also not convinced with the reason that was offered for his resignation.

"If there were differences on the bill they should have tried to iron them out. They should know they cannot fight the Ambanis from the streets of Delhi or from the Ramlila ground," Mehta said.

The AAP on the other hand believes there couldn't be a better reason to quit.

"AAP was born on the concept that governance and policies are meaningless if they are controlled by corruption. There is no point in doing something here and there and deviate from the central issue which is to tackle corruption. This bill is the absolute basis of our party and if this bill is obstructed on some technicalities to prevent it even from tabling..." said AAP spokesperson Prashant Bhushan.

Training his guns on the alleged political parties-corporate houses nexus, Bhushan said, "Both Congress and the BJP are marionettes or puppets of Reliance Industries Limited. What does governance means if you cannot control corruption?"

The AAP leader also refused to accept that the manner in which the legislation was introduced in the Assembly was unconstitutional.

"The bill could have got the assent of the President of India after it was sent to him... The rule requiring the Centre's permission to enact a law is a mockery of the Constitution. Are breaking of mics in the Assembly or tearing paper in the House as per the law? Should we have allowed this lumpenism in the Assembly and hung on to power?" Bhushan said.

Supreme Court advocate Aman Lekhi contested the idea that the method of introducing the bill was correct.

"The AAP members are acting as God's lieutenants on earth. They are always full of self-righteousness. But the fact is the path they chose to introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Assembly was not right constitutionally. Kejriwal never had a plot. There is nothing in the Constitution that justifies what they have done. You cannot deal with corruption by distorting the system for your own ends," Lekhi said.

The Congress party, which was supporting the government, also came out against the AAP.

"This is not an opportune time for Kejriwal to resign. The Delhi government could have incorporated changes in the Lokpal Act which the Centre passed and used it for Delhi. AAP has no confidence in any constitutional bodies. They have only confidence in (Delhi law minister) Somnath Bharti whom they think to be the repository of legal knowledge. People are already speaking of how good the Sheila Dikshit government was," Congress spokesperson Brijesh Kalappa said.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, who was part of the hour-long discussion, called the resignation a political gimmick.

"This is a black day in the Indian democracy. There was no government in Delhi for the last 49 days. This is a classical case of designed martyrdom. Martyrdom is always sudden and not designed. This is his script for 2014 and the repeat enactment of the same 2012 drama," Patra said.

The BJP spokesperson also made it clear that the BJP will not form the government on the current mandate saying, "We are ready for fresh elections."

With the second round of Delhi elections now being certain, Bhushan also claimed that AAP will get absolute majority this time.

"We will come with a thumping majority in the next elections. You will see that," he said.

Perhaps the CNN-IBN editor-in-chief aptly described the lacunae of the Kejriwal government in its short existence of 49 days.

"You have to offer people more than fight against corruption. You need to offer them hope. But the chief minister was constantly playing negative politics. Kejriwal is always a man in a hurry. In a short time he is trying to deliver maximum impact. He needs to clearly tell us what he wants to deliver in Lok Sabha," said Sardesai.

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