IS ARVIND KEJRIWAL READING INTO THE MANDATE?

“He, the poor man, he was toiling in lanes, asking for forgiveness for his act of resigning in only 49 days while promising to work on corruption. Going by those 49 days we believe he will reduce electricity and water prices to make our lives easier. While he was struggling hard, making us feel he was one among us, she (Kiran Bedi) was travelling with caravan of vehicles, like a queen, seldom coming down to talk to the people.”

This observation by a female domestic help when Aam Aadmi Party’s numbers were shooting up on the day of counting on February 10 tells the triumph of the party as well as the challenges it faces ahead.

Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party have got another lease of life and another opportunity but they need to read the message write.

Before basking in its glory, they need to undo their doings, their mistakes so far, the mistakes that have been in the realm of ‘to be forgiven’.

In a miscalculated and unethical move, he suddenly dumped Delhi to explore the higher political ground in national politics. The ambitions, initially limited to contesting selected researched seats, went unbound and the party fought on 432 seats. There was no organization outside Delhi. Candidates had no resources to sustain. And there were no senior leaders available to campaign. Whatever little resource the party had, was mostly invested in Varanasi, where Arvind Kejriwal decided to pit himself against Narendra Modi, a certain defeat from the day one.

The result was earth-shattering for Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party. The party made an electoral record with most of its candidates losing their deposits.

Then, the man Arvind Kejriwal, had become bigger that his party and his ego had enveloped itself in a cult of his personality. Kejriwal traces his political origin to a hugely successful anti-corruption movement by the civil society, yet his political initiation looked undermining that when he started behaving like the seasoned politicians of the day whom he targeted and made core of his ‘politics of change’.

The mandate again, and a historic mandate, that is more of a BJP loss than a testimony of Kejriwal’s deliverability, is to make people believe that those were the initial bumps of the political initiation of a group of people with no political experience.

And for that, the Aam Aadmi Paty government in Delhi headed by Arvind Kejriwal must perform first, and to the scale that could reciprocate the sentiments of the people like the domestic help mentioned in the beginning lines of this write-up.

To achieve that, Kejriwal must kill every of chance of him becoming a cult in his party and for his supporters.

He must work with the spirit that politicians seldom show – as people’s servant as they have elected him to represent them and act on their concerns.

Yes, that is like asking too much, but then a young politician who traces his political roots in social activism and swears by the ‘Aam Aadmi’ (common man), has to understand the meaning of the mandate given to him.

It was a mandate of a demanding electorate that decided to punish the BJP for its non-performance during the nine months Delhi was under the Central rule under the NDA government since May 2014. The electorate was more miffed with the BJP’s non-performance than Kejriwal’s deserter act and when it came to elect its representatives again, it decided to go with the alternative that had shown traces of delivering.

With his ‘we did commit mistake’ apology while requesting people to judge him and his party by his work of 49 days and what he could do based on that if he was given the full five years delivered for him.

There were indeed millions, from the poor in the slums, from lower and middle income areas, street vendors, auto drivers, traders, who experienced extortion and corruption free days when police, MCD and routine office corruption (even in regional transport offices) were effectively kept in check. AAP’s water and power subsidies were implemented as promised.

For voters, oppressed under a system that makes corruption a part of life, these steps were big enough to ignore the wrongs of AAP then (and even now). And the thought of having such days for full five years proved to be a big motivator for Delhi voters.

But that doesn’t say the AAP was a perfect choice.

People chose him and his party because they looked promising on delivering if given a full term while the BJP failed to deliver even after a historic mandate in the general elections of 2014.

People voted for his party because he was able to position himself differently – as a commoner who know where the shoe pinches.

And there lies the danger for Kejriwal.

If he is not reading the fine print of the mandate given to him by Delhi’s voters, he is going to face the same predicament that the BJP is in – in Delhi.

People would not hesitate in rejecting a cultist, bigger than his party Arvind Kejriwal.

Kejriwal should try to do all to keep the day away when his supporters like this domestic help are forced by him to make observations like ‘we miscalculated him or we ill-judged him or he proved to be just yet another politician or we regret our decision to vote him in’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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