Kapil Mishra’s graft charge: The countdown to Arvind Kejriwal’s exit may have begun

Earlier it used to be his ministers and legislators; this time Arvind Kejriwal is directly in the line of fire. Does it surprise? It should not. Given the rot in the Aam Aadmi Party and the ongoing intense in-house power struggle, it was expected. It was also expected that the attack on him would come from within.

With his blunt allegation against Kejriwal, Kapil Mishra, who became a former minister a day ago, has delivered the biggest blow not only to the person but also to the fledgling party. The BJP might just have found the handle it needed to take the Delhi chief minister on. Whether or not minister Satyendra Jain paid Rs 2 crore to Kejriwal may take time to establish, but the latest development makes one thing certain: the latter won’t have an easy time in power from now on. The countdown to his exit may have begun.

File image of Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

File image of Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

Last week, after senior party leader Kumar Vishwas rebelled over legislator Amanatullah Khan’s remark against him, Kejriwal and his team had managed an uneasy truce. It was an attempt to paper over the deep divides between rival factions in the AAP and it looked fragile. Vishwas was placated with a high-sounding role in Rajasthan but it was obvious that more trouble was on the cards. Amanatullah, believed to be close to senior leader Sanjay Singh, was not divested of many of his roles in the party.

Kapil Mishra, one of the original members of the party, is believed to be close to Vishwas. His attack on Kejriwal on Sunday, thus, can be construed as an extension of last week’s face-off within the party. Through a series of tweets on Saturday, he had offered enough hint that he was ready for drastic action. Obviously, the party did not know how to handle him.

That Mishra’s attack considerably weakens Kejriwal’s standing, both within the party and outside it, needs no emphasising. For a man who made a political career out of his crusade against corruption to get embroiled in allegation of corruption is ironical indeed. His party had no clear ideology to begin with and most of his legislators had dubious credentials. It was his anti- corruption image that gave the Aam Aadmi Party its unique selling proposition. With Kejriwal’s honesty in question the party stands to lose that USP too.

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. Everyone expected he would abandon the high ambition of being a potential challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi or being the leader of the united opposition in 2019 to take on the BJP and get about putting his house in order, focussing on Delhi alone.

But it seems the situation has gone from bad to worse. The party, as many former members would say, is a snake pit. It’s a vicious place where everyone is busy snooping on and undercutting the other. The Vishwas episode and now Sunday's development now make it clear that the party is so trapped in machinations and skulduggery that its survival is nearly impossible.

So what next for Kejriwal? It appears he has lost the moral authority to run the AAP. But it is also a fact that he is the only leader of any worth in the party. He may survive but it would be hard work and unpleasant too. The BJP would surely not let the opportunity provided by Kapil Mishra to pass unattended.

The endgame is near for him.

Updated Date: May 07, 2017 16:29 PM

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