Arvind Kejriwal’s government is doing many things.
Arvind Kejriwal’s government is not doing anything.
Both perspectives have their proponents and opponents. And that is ironical about it.
We did not hear the ‘rush to reform’ the system by the Aam Aadmi Party government like it was the last time. Apart from some populist measures of offering subsidies on electricity and water tariffs, the AAP government has done nothing significant. And it is going to complete 100 days in office on May 24.
During the campaigning phase, Arvind Kejriwal could easily be seen apologizing for deserting Delhi in just 49 days. And at the same time, he could be seen trying to sell the goodwill of those 49 days.
And after results, he found those 49 days a ‘better than thought’ proposition. We can find a link even on the AAP website talking achievements of the 49 days rule.
Yes, it is true the 49 days rule played a major role in better than expected poll outcome for the AAP. But the ‘better than expected’ results also tell that it was not an entirely won battle.
Because vote share of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) more or less remained the same.
And almost entire vote share of Congress went to the AAP. The BJP could not win it or a share of it, owing to its lackluster show during the President’s rule in Delhi through the Lieutenant-Governor.
That is not going to happen again. And there are reasons for it.
The AAP’s confrontationist approach figures majorly among that. Right from its inception, the AAP has been engaged in a sort of confrontationist politics. The AAP leaders kept on issuing statements against the Congress leaders even if its first government (the government of 49 days) was in office with Congress’s support.
They continue to do so, targeting everyone who is non-AAP politically (and administratively).
The AAP tried to create an atmosphere where it looked engaged in an anti-establishment confrontational politics even if it was taking or trying to take Congress’s support. It successfully created veil of a populist pro-common men approach.
And it followed some of it during its first, now hallowed 49 days of government, though, with errors.
Sample this – Arvind Kejriwal decided to end the VVIP culture in Delhi. He said he would not take the chief minister’s bungalow and other arrangements. His MLAs or he himself contradicted this stand. He was hooted on social media for accepting a VIP accommodation. It forced him to make U-turn on it. A larger than life Kejriwal, present on banners, posters and hoardings, on every nook and corner of Delhi, appealed Delhiites, from common men to auto drivers, to film corrupt officials on hidden cameras. His government took action against such officials. He offered subsidies for electricity and water for the months left in the year. To prove his political activism, he offered to give subsidies to them who had not paid their electricity bills on his request, before he became the CM. He also filed case against a prominent corporate house alleging corruption in fixing petroleum prices. And he reasoned his resignation behind a similar issue – on Jan Lokpal. He alleged the present political class of the time was not supporting his cause.
But after the humiliation of the Lok Sabha polls where his party created a record of ‘forfeitures’, he had to come back to Delhi again. He tried to form the government there, again with Congress’s support, if we go by the reports. Like this option had to fail, and it failed. All this while, he was preparing for the next Delhi assembly polls, well in advance. All this while, he maintained a confrontationist attitude, visible to us, enveloping it in his apology for deserting Delhi in just 49 days.
And the residents of Delhi, disappointed with the BJP in Delhi and fed-up of Congress, believed in him, in his apology and in his confrontationist approach, giving him 67 out of 70 assembly seats.
That was it.
Kejriwal’s government is completing 100 days this time and there is nothing to talk about.
The tenure that has come after many promises is looking more like a naturalization process and the AAP has been co-opted by the Indian politics of the day, which they talked of changing when they began.
He and his partymen accepted VVIP accommodations and made no fuss about it. They even needed a separate VVIP corridor during events. Corruption is as usual in Delhi. Kejriwal’s full-time government has not brought any change to that. At least we are yet to feel it. He has given electricity and water subsidies but even people are not talking about it anymore. He made larger than life promises to win Delhi but then felt it would be enough if he could deliver even 40%/50% of that.
After taking the reins for the second time, with a full-time government, he is making news, but mostly due to negative reasons. His anti-establishment attitude, something that was behind his ‘anarchist’ proclamation, is now looking rubbish, stale, so routine and selfish.
He is completing 100 days of governance and he has nothing else to talk but electricity and water subsidies. And that too sounds ineffective now. The cruel Delhi summers are already witnessing protests over water and electricity shortage.
He promised Delhiites full statehood and many projects for which lands were needed. Now, everyone knows Centre cannot give full statehood to Delhi, cannot give the Delhi Police under the Delhi government and cannot leave land to the state government in a state that is also the National Capital of India. Even Sheila Dikshit, Kejriwal’s predecessor, could not achieve full statehood or could not get the Delhi Police under her control even if she had three full terms in office and even if Congress led the Union Government from 2004 to 2014.
Yes, Delhi is a half state and is also the most important Indian city where people of national and international importance reside. It had offices and institutions that go beyond the Delhi CM and need to be looked after by the Central government.
And Delhi has to be governed like that. The confrontationist approach will not work here. The BJP government at Union level, with the BJP being the main opposition in Delhi makes matters in Delhi even worse.
Kejriwal needed an approach of reconciliation and needed to work with the Union Government for the development of Delhi. He needs land that is under the BJP government. He needs cooperation of the Delhi Police that is under the BJP led Ministry of Home Affairs. Full statehood demand was not a practical one. Delhi being the half state and the seat of the Government of India, he needs assistance from the Central government. For, for his own political career, he needed to consolidate the Delhi gains first.
Instead, he has chosen confrontation. And he is not sparing even his own officials and media here.
And a credibility crisis for him has made his every act look like a sham – an atmosphere of credibility that had given him the advantage earlier (including this election).
He first stage-managed and then got Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, the two senior-most members, who along-with him had formed the party and weaved the Anna Hazare led anti-corruption movement of 2011, kicked out. The AAP of the day is clearly a one-man show which doesn’t go beyond Arvind Kejriwal (and will not go beyond Delhi if something is not done).
Then he adopted silence after a farmer’s suicide at his rally that was organized to launch the AAP protests against the NDA’s land acquisition bill. His reaction came very late. The incident fizzled out the AAP protests against land acquisition.
In both incidents, it was clearly visible that he was not doing pro-people politics. He was not setting any precedent. Instead, he was doing pure politics, and going even beyond ‘them’. Whether it was in him or whether it came upon him is not what matters. What matters is that he is sounding more and more incredulous and routine now.
And the latest episode of the appointment of acting chief secretary of Delhi, too, is being seen in this context.
Delhi’s chief secretary K. K. Sharma is on leave for 10 days and the Delhi government needs to appoint someone as the acting chief secretary in his absence. There are valid questions over rights of the Delhi L-G and the Delhi CM on the issue and the unprecedented alertness shown by the Delhi L-G.
But Kejriwal is not finding support here. And when writing so, it means public support. He is not getting public support on any of the vital issues in his manifesto – full statehood to Delhi, Delhi Police under his control or the issue of Delhi land for new hospitals and educational institutions.
This time, he has, so far, not launched any public agitation, like he had launched the one against the Delhi Police during his government of 49 days. The one where he tried backfired due to his ill management and a farmer’s suicide. And in spite of a war of letters, he is not going to launch the next even the Union Government is imposing itself on Delhi in case of the acting chief secretary issue.
He needs a practical approach here but then he himself has closed the doors.
The L-G will say yes. The CM will say no. And 10 days will pass. Only Kejriwal and his men know why they are bad-naming and badmouthing about Shakuntla Gamlin who the Delhi L-G has appointed while K. K. Sharma is away. Even if his Government is not agreed to it, her appointment is according to the choices of names by the Delhi Government. And she is not alone. The war is engulfing others. The Delhi civil services officers are facing heat in this war in the war between the Delhi L-G and the Delhi CM. Removal of the official who issued appointment order for Shakuntala Gamlin has already been rejected by the Delhi L-G and it is to be seen how the Delhi government reacts next.
Irrespective of the question of a Constitutional Crisis, the matter will further harm Kejriwal’s chances in Delhi and beyond. His government is doing petty politics over a woman official and is levelling allegations without proof. If she is corrupt, as is being said (by people like Arvind Kejriwal), why is she still there?
Kejriwal thinks he is safe for five years now. But he has to face a government at the Union level that is of the main political opposition in Delhi. And he has to face an aggressive Rahul Gandhi. He got almost votes of Congress this time but that will not happen in the next polls.
And to make matters worse for him, he will be facing anti-incumbency (huge, as he has promised Delhi many things that he cannot give) and a deteriorated credibility base.
He has proven he is not the kind the politician Delhiites had thought of and voted for. He is same, from the lot. He has proven he is not different.
The irony is Arvind Kejriwal thinks his government is doing many things.
The irony is Arvind Kejriwal has failed, so far, to do anything for Delhi.
The irony is he has started attracting negative public sentiments.
And the irony of all ironies is – his mainstreaming is complete even if he has no means to further his political career. He thinks Delhi voters will forget his misdeeds in five years – when the next elections come. He thinks such things will not go beyond Delhi. And if he thinks so, he is committing the same mistake as his political brethren did. He has seen what happened to the Congress across the country. He has seen what happened to the BJP in just nine months in Delhi. And he has seen his own party’s humiliation in the Lok Sabha polls last year.
Yes, the full-time politician in him is out there and with force but even he is not advising him the right course.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/