AAP Vs Ambanis
Arvind Kejriwal believes that showing nexus between Narendra Modi and the Ambani brothers would ruin all chances of Modi reaching the South Block. But as a result he has opened all flanks for attacks on himself
The polling dates have been announced. This is going to be the longest election, ever. Over eight lakh polling booths are being set up. The election Commission has made adequate security arrangements. What is new is the directive by the Commission to all candidates to declare their accounts and assets abroad.
It was no coincidence that while Narendra Modi addressed a massive Rally—about seven-lakh plus crowd—at Lucknow, Arvind Kejriwal spoke to about 30,000 to 35,000 in Kanpur and Mulayam Singh Yadav was in Allahabad addressing a crowd of two-lakh plus. Each indulged in criticising someone or the other. This was the first gun salvo in the battle for Uttar Pradesh (UP), which sends 80 MPs to Lok Sabha. UP being once called the political cauldron of India, any party that gets most seats in the state stands a good chance of reaching the magical figure of 272 and form a government either on its own or with a few partners. With this in mind, all parties would unleash their most potent political weapons to emerge on the top.
After the speeches by Modi, Yadav and Kejriwal, it was clear that all of them would fight with an eye on their own prospects—a shot at prime minister’s gaddi or to be able to be part of any coalition that forms the government. Modi ignored Kejriwal and kept attacking Yadav and his son’s government—said 150 riots in his rule, no riots in Gujarat after 2002. Modi knows neither of them would support him.
This could be true. In case Congress needs some allies to stitch together a coalition, BSP, SP, JD(U), TMC, JD(S), BJD, RJD and a few other small parties would not hesitate to swing to the ‘secular’ coalition. This is why, maybe, Kejriwal did not take on Congress or Yadav and Yadav returned the compliment by attacking Modi and did not take on Kejriwal. An old saying is that a vote for RJD, JD (U), JD (S), TMC, BJD, AAP and Left parties is for the Congress.
Kejriwal in his campaign is targeting Modi alone. There is, however, little to criticise him except the 2002 riots to the point that he loses all voter support. But it is such a beaten track and for years parties have taken recourse to it. Some are running small industry and businesses with anti-Modi tirade. Yet Kejriwal knows that the Congress party is in utter disarray and Modi is the biggest hurdle to his chances, whatever that might be.
And not finding anything that can stick on Modi he has been talking about his nexus with the Reliance Industries owners Mukesh and Anil Ambani. It is now his manifesto and the sole talking point. He does not seem to ponder over the consequences of such defamatory statements. If these charges are not substantiated, game for Kejrwal would be over.
Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infra has now filed a Rs 100-crore compensation case against Aam Aadmi Party for him making charges of malpractices. This, according to sources, is just a harbinger of more suits of more serious nature. These suits are going to slow down Kejriwal. It is possible that an injunction could be issued against him for not saying anything against the company. That would deprive the only weapon he was using to target the Ambanis. It would not be surprising if he would have to take bail, in case a criminal suit is filed.
He has been campaigning all over with one agenda, charging Modi with nexus with the Ambanis over fixing of gas price. He never bothered to calculate the risk involved in linking Modi with Ambanis, the wealthiest among Indians all over the world, and the likely backlash if he fails to substantiate his charges. For, even the efficacy of alleging nexus between Modi and Ambanis is itself questionable. And how far would it affect Modi is also questionable. How many rural voters know about the consequences of such a link up? How many urban voters are bothered? Only the knowle-dgeable know the hardships if the price of gas is “fixed”.
At the Kanpur rally, Kejriwal showed that he had chosen only one point to target Modi. He mainly embroiled Narendra Modi and casually Rahul Gandhi in the Ambani controversy he has racked up. He said they were dancing to Ambanis’ tune. He questioned their silence over the gas prices. He further alleged that the Reliance Industries and their owners have accounts in Swiss Banks and he read out the number of the accounts—5090160983 and 5090160984।. “Some say Modi is a good man and he would save the country. But I want to ask Modi would he sell to the Ambanis gas at four dollar or at 8 dollar?”
Modi’s refusal to be drawn into Kejriwal’s charges was also questioned by him. He added that Modi goes around in Ambanis’ helicopter. No surprises he maintained discreet silence over rumours that the Gandhis fly abroad in Ambanis’ private aircraft.
But he possibly created a serious problem for himself when he read out the numbers of Swiss accounts of the Ambanis. Although he said when he was revenue commissioner a file had been brought to him that contained the numbers of Ambanis’ Swiss accounts. He added that he noted them. This breaches Official Secrets Act. When Kejriwal was a government official, this Act was applicable to him. He and other officials are not expected to reveal any confidential matter, they came to know while holding official post. But obviously Kejriwal does not believe in the Act. He did disclose the numbers earlier at a press conference. The question is: Did Kejriwal breach the Act? And why did he reveal the numbers now and not earlier when he was in the Revenue Department? This means he is aware of the Act.
Now with the Lok Sabha elections due, Kejriwal, knowing that the Congress is in utter disarray, is aware that Modi is his main rival. And he believes that attacking Modi on Ambanis’ Swiss bank money is the best weapon to bludgeon Modi. The ultimate question is: Why did Kejriwal not give the numbers to the government? Or did he? The present government would for obvious reasons take no action against Kejriwal. But if a PIL is filed, it would curb the campaigning by him. And without him AAP is nothing. Meanwhile, he meticulously avoids talking about his government’s 49-day rule and its “achievements”. It would shame him if compared to over a decade rule of Modi in Gujarat. But his Delhi-base has eroded and that would be a major handicap.
A recent survey by Prof. Rajeeva Kharandikar, Director, Chennai Mathematical Institute, Chennai, found that the Congress seems to have slightly recovered from the devastating loss in the Assembly elections in the last three months. But, the AAP vote share has come down by a huge 13 per cent when compared to its
previous survey in January. In that survey, AAP had got 48 per cent vote share and the BJP had 30 per cent while the Congress had got a mere 16 per cent vote share.
The popularity of AAP also seems to have taken a big hit in the last two months. The survey shows that the BJP has gained 6 per cent votes and the Congress has also gained 6 per cent votes during the same period. However, AAP is still very much in the race. According to the latest survey, the BJP is ahead of AAP by just 1 per cent with overall 36 per cent vote share. The AAP has got 35 per cent and the Congress has got 22 per cent vote share.
However, AAP has lost quite a chunk of his vote-base—the auto drivers and sweepers have given up their support and it also seems that the first time voters in the age group of 18-25 years have been disillusioned and given up their backing for AAP.
Since January it has seen a 27 per cent decline. In the January survey it was 64 per cent and it has now come down to 37 per cent which is certainly a worrying factor for AAP. It has also seen a steady decline of support among all other sections.
IS AAP LEADERSHIP LINKED WITH CIA?
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 & individually.”
He asserts the entire nexus can be busted, and then the truth will come out by enquiring Ford-funded social activists and their family, Ford team members & Ford Foundation India representatives since 2000-2012. An email to his friend journalists 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 by 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 antinational activities. He added 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 was 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, which 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 Ford Foundation. (VD)
Among the Punjabi Khatris, AAP seems to have lost 21 per cent votes in less than two months. It was 56 per cent in January and has now come down to 35 per cent. It has also lost 19 per cent lower class, 18 per cent college educated, 16 per cent women, 16 per cent middle class and 15 per cent Muslim votes during the same period.
The biggest factor for such desertion is resignation by Kejriwal over Jan Lokpal Bill. Overall 44 per cent respondents feel that it was a wrong decision and overall 33 per cent feel that it was a right decision to quit. A total of 46 per cent respondents among the upper middle class and 41 per cent respondents among the poor feel that the quitting was wrong.
The dissatisfaction with AAP government, although still low, goes up by three times since January. It was just 9 per cent in January and it has now gone up to 26 per cent. 70 per cent respondents are still happy with the performance of the 49-day AAP government. It was 74 per cent in January. Satisfaction with Kejriwal’s performance as CM has also declined since January. It is now 67 per cent when compared to 76 per cent in January. Now 18 per cent respondents are dissatisfied when compared to just 7 per cent in January.
Kejriwal’s dharna outside the Rail Bhawan rankled the middle class. Three in 10 AAP supporters also think it was inappropriate. Overall 50 per cent feel that it was inappropriate and 43 per cent feel that it was right on his part to sit on a dharna.
Most people believe that Kejriwal, even before 30 days in the government, was looking for some pretext to resign. This had made people suspect that AAP was more interested in Lok Sabha polls than working for Delhi. The survey reveals that 47 per cent people agree that it was more interested in Lok Sabha elections than working for Delhi. This seems to be true. Kejriwal is devoting his energy and time campaigning for his party candidates but concentrating only on defaming Modi enough to stop him reach the prime minister gaddi. He has full support of Congress. In fact, the sole objective of Congress in backing AAP was to create a barrier between Modi and South Block. Even if AAP gets its own 50 Lok Sabha MPs, it would be sufficient to cause problems for Modi.
But would it get so many seats? Already a criminal defamation case filed by Nitin Gadkari is about to start. Kejriwal has been summoned by the court. According to a report in Chauthi Duniya, a Noida-based primary teacher Ajaypal Nagar has accused Kejriwal of plagiarism. He charged Kejriwal that he has copied in his book Swaraj his writings in Ajaypal’s authored Indian Polity.
Nagar had filed an FIR but sensing that proper inquiry was not being conducted, he filed a petition in the Civil Judge Court in December 2012. Under Section 156(3) CrPC he filed the case against Kejriwal and others under Sections 496, 407, 408, 120b 420, 463, 464 and 467 of IPC. After hearing the petitioner the Judge ordered that Kejriwal should submit his response. So with suits by Anil Ambani’s company and Gadkari and with Nagar’s criminal case, Kejriwal has opened all flanks for attacks on him.
By Vijay Dutt