Kejriwal Goes Through A Turbulent Trough
Since an eternal protester never believes in what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his words
This describes Arvind Kejriwal: He wove a dream that people believed. They fell for him, which led to his meteoric rise. But when his dream turned into a near nightmare, descent has been equally speedy, a flash and then he seems to be going down tumbling. His golden day was on December 29 last year when he was sworn in as Delhi’s Chief Minister in front of a huge number of Delhiites. They were the king-makers.
But 49 days later, Arvind Kejriwal, convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), resigned. He had a roller-coaster ride even during the 49 days. The sight of Chief Minister sitting on the pavement opposite Railway Bhavan was so ugly and odd that even his ardent supporters were appalled. But a street protester and dharna specialist does not give up his fighting spirit. Kejriwal opted to go national. He announced that AAP would put up candidates in 400 constituencies. This was far more than what the Congress and the BJP would put up.
Meanwhile the secrets of many important AAP candidates surfaced, which discredited not only those candidates but Kejriwal too. A founding member of AAP and its national council Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay suspects his party—or its leadership at least—to have connections with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He told reporters: “It is in public domain that American CIA/Pakistan’s ISI is dividing unity of society and weakening integrity of the nation through Ford Foundation/foreign-funded Indian NGOs and individually.”
He asserts the entire nexus can be busted. Then the truth will come out by enquiring Ford-funded social activists and their family, Ford team members and Ford Foundation India representatives since 2000-2012. An email to his journalist friends titled, “Anti-national activities of CIA, ISI, Ford Foundation and foreign-funded Indian NGOs and individuals by Upadhyay alleged:
“Many Indian NGOs and individuals are directly or indirectly funded by American CIA, Pakistan’s ISI, USA-based NGO Ford Foundation, NGO Aavaz and also funded by many other foreign countries.”
He asserted that many of the Ford Foundation foreign-funded Indian NGOs and individuals are pro-separatist, pro-Naxal, pro-Maoist, pro-terrorist and directly or indirectly involved in anti-national activities. He added that these Ford Foundation, foreign-funded NGO people and individuals are mobilising people on caste, creed, religion and social issues and weakening the social unity and integrity of the nation. His allegation that many Ford Foundation, foreign-funded NGO people and individuals are contesting Parliament and Assembly elections as a part of major conspiracy of CIA and ISI is more alarming. He sent a letter to Kejriwal as well.
It is obvious that Kejriwal is going through a turbulent trough. Ashwini’s statement and allegations are very serious because Kejriwal is now in national politics and aims to be in power. If what Ashwini alleges has even an element of truth, at the least an in-depth inquiry is urgently needed. What causes greater anxiety is that according to reports over 60 of 70 candidates chosen by Kejriwal and company have been beneficiaries of the Ford Foundation.
No clarification has come from Kejriwal so far. And since AAP is basically an urban-based party, such allegations would hurt it. There was recently a demonstration and a lot of slogan shouting at India Gate. About half of the AAP council members gathered there, burnt effigies of Kejriwal and accused him of various misdemeanour and of reneging on his promises. Kejriwal reacted by saying whoever wants to leave may leave. But they would not only leave but go to every seven constituencies in Delhi raising slogans against AAP candidates. The poll surveys estimate that five out of seven seats in Delhi would go to BJP, one to AAP and for the remaining one there is neck-and-neck fight. Worse, over 10 AAP nominees withdrew. Nothing Kejriwal can do to stop such fraying of his party. His own credibility has eroded and the esteem he had only three months ago has ebbed. He has been slapped about five times in different parts of Delhi. It seems it’s payback time for the sins AAP has committed.
In the latest incident, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal was slapped (jhapad mara, this describes it better) on a Tuesday apparently for not standing up to the expectations of auto drivers, who were promised moon by Kejriwal before coming to power. The incident came close on the heels of his campaigning in Delhi a few days back. The auto rickshaw driver, identified as Laali, a resident of Aman Vihar, first gave the impression of welcoming him and then slapped Kejriwal during a road show in Sultanpuri in Northwest Delhi. Laali said, Kejriwal has betrayed auto drivers in Delhi. He was immediately grabbed by angry AAP workers and thrashed.
This was second such attack on Kejriwal in four days. He was attacked by a 19-year-old youth during his campaigning in Dakshinpuri area of South Delhi. The former Chief Minister has been attacked a number of times in the past. On March 28, he was attacked by a man, who claimed to be a supporter of Anna Hazare, during his election rally in Haryana. In Varanasi, protesters threw ink on Kejriwal and a number of other party leaders during a road show. After the latest slapping, Kejriwal abandoned the road show and went to Rajghat, possibly seeking some wisdom from the Mahatma. Most probably, he is the only leader in a democracy to have been recipient of so many slaps. His name could ‘grace’ pages of Guinness Book of Records.
In the midst of all this chaotic state, the real bad news came from Varanasi. It seems Kejriwal, hitherto the poster boy and convenor of AAP, has lost not only control over the members but has stopped thinking. He has the pretensions of AAP being a national party and fighting a national election. Serious responsibilities come when one wants to be a part of defending India’s Constitution, its security and be part of making laws that affect 1.25 billion people. Kejriwal seems to have lost his thinking cap being buffeted between one crisis and another without any remission. Reports have come that AAP workers tied brooms all over the biggest and most central statue of Madan Mohan Malaviya, Founder of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), and most revered by the people in Varanasi. Sources said that professors and students of the university are filing a case against Kejriwal. He is already facing cases filed by Nitin Gadkari and Anil Ambani. And if the Congress feels AAP would not serve its purpose of cutting into BJP votes and preventing Modi from getting enough seats to form a government, before it loses power, it could get Directorate of Enforcement to take action against Kejriwal.
Another senior member Prashant Bhushan has alienated many Indians for stating that there should be a referendum among separatists as to AASPA and the presence of Indian Army in J&K. Another classic suggestion came from him. Obviously, he loves the word referendum. He allegedly suggested that a referendum be done to find out if Maoists like the presence of CRPF. Kejriwal did say it must be his personal view and later Bhushan withdrew his suggestions. But by then damage was done. Such a fast decline of AAP and Kejriwal has been as amazing as his rise. No one cared to be careful about him. His whole edifice was built on falsehood. He got 28 seats because Congress’ Sheila Dikshit government was hated. The voters who did not want to support the BJP voted for AAP. Yet they got lesser seats than the BJP.
Kejriwal swore on his children that he would not form government by taking help from the Congress. But when he was taking oath as Chief Minister, it was because of the Congress. A leader who becomes colossus by breaking his oath, that too on his children, should never have been trusted. The dreams he wove have caused a lot of pain. Just think of auto-rickshaw driver Laali.
By Vijay Dutt