Arvind Kejriwal is back to political activism, but he'll be looking to be reborn in a new avatar. After all, during 49 days of theatrics and hyperbole, he has tried to combine six roles into one -- chief minister of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, simultaneously also Leader of Opposition, populist freebiee messiah, civil society activist, a self-proclaimed anarchist and paradoxically a Bechara Aam Admi. Now, he has ultimately decided to play a martyr who fell valiantly fighting a conspiracy hatched by entrenched interest groups in collusion with the two principal parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.
He exited himself, with a timing of his own choosing, but, with an arrogant autocrat’s attitude whose word must prevail over everything else, he wants people to believe that he was the biggest democrat and people must vote him to a much bigger role.
As the turn of events manifests, the three-day special session of the Delhi Assembly was called not to pass his pet Jan Lokpal and Swaraj bills but to find a convenient way to exit from governance where he was fast finding it difficult to deliver the kind of unrealistic promises he had made and to deal with the kind of people comprising his ministerial team. A month later, with the onset of summer, things would have been even more difficult even in the less-than-half-a-state Delhi.
As he resigned, he couldn’t care less for all those Delhi residents who didn’t pay electricity bills for months because he promised a waiver, or to all residents of Delhi waiting for a 50 percent reduction in electricity bills, or to those in the jhuggi-jhopdi clusters and unauthorised colonies to whom he promised not just free 700 litres of water per individual per day but also 20,000 new public toilets. Not a thought for those awaiting the opening of the promised 500 new quality public schools, nor for the 3.5 lakh contract employees he promised to regularise, and not even for the 1,00,000 anti-corruption helpline complainants.
So, the key questions are -- did he really want a Jan Lokpal or is he is mixing a half-truth with a set of conceivable lies, as is so common with the political class? Second, did the Jan Lokpal bill really fail in Assembly because of an obstructionist Opposition? Third, did they block the bill because most of them would otherwise have landed in jail in due course?
The simple answer is that if Kejriwal was really serious about passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill, he could have easily repealed the existing Lokayukta Bill, moving an amended Bill. Or he could have followed the set procedures of bringing the bill into the Assembly. There wouldn’t have been any hassles, and if the BJP and the Congress had opposed it, they would have genuinely totally exposed.
Kejirwal and other AAP leaders keep referring to the MHA's 2002 executive order, because it does have some loopholes. But the Lt Governor was not referring to that order, he was instead referring to the Government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991 and the Transaction of Business of the Government of NCT of Delhi Rules, 1993, while raising objections on why his recommendation is a must for the tabling of a finance bill.
After all, only a few days ago, the Congress-led UPA government’s attempts to introduce the Telangana bill in Rajya Sabha failed after the opposition BJP and others pointed out that since it had financial implications, it had to be treated as a money bill and could thus be introduced only in the Lok Sabha. But Kejriwal as chief minister wanted things to be done in the way he liked, without first asking for amendments in those rules and procedures.
It is also intriguing why as Leader of House he chose not to speak while an ill-prepared and inexperienced Speaker MS Dhir was trying to wriggle out of a difficult Constitutional question. It was the right platform for Kejriwal to speak his mind and reason out why the LG was wrong and he was right, and why he must go forward to meet the timeframe he had set for the Jan Lokpal Bill. But he chose to make a limited intervention much later during the mandatory passage of the Appropriation Bill and of course when he proclaimed martyrdom before his believers at his party office.
Also, if by his definition, Delhi government’s Anti-Corruption Bureau was actually so powerful and had statutory backing to file a criminal case against industrialists, union ministers and a top bureaucrat and pursue investigation against them, why did he so hurriedly need a Jan Lokpal too?
He claims that the BJP and Congress joined hands because he had filed an FIR against the biggest industrialist of the country and a union minister. If so, did he try to foil their design? No, because being rhetorical could give him a talking point and could pay him politically in the run-up to the parliamentary elections.
The manufactured complications were in fact a well thought-out design to quit the CM’s office assuming the high moral ground because he realised that the Congress was not going to oblige him any time soon to gain a martyr’s halo despite all kinds of provocations.
With Kejriwal stuck in the Delhi secretariat trying to find delivery mechanisms, organisational work at the AAP party headquarters had gone for a toss. It was left to Yogendra Yadav who has mostly been busy with various meetings or TV appearances. The accessibility of senior leaders was becoming a major issue for the cadre. Kejriwal had to do something dramatic to keep up the morale of the newly recruited cadre and also to magnify his public appeal, which was lately shrinking in form.
His challenge lay not just to arouse believers, but also to convince people that he is not a quitter but a doer, a martyr who couldn't do what he set out to because he was wronged.
Updated Date: Feb 15, 2014 15:12:05 IST