Thanks to Kejriwal, AAP losing sheen

The story of Arvind Kejriwal’s rise to power in Delhi has all the elements of a drama that has been played out in Indian politics more than once. He won his political battle by advocating a radical change in the political system of the country and swore by value-based politics, but ended up resorting to the tricks and gimmicks that are common in Indian politics. If he has added something, it is an aggressive form of individualism.

Though Kejriwal was showing signs of individualism and arrogance even in his India Against Corruption days, they were hidden and covert. However, as soon as he became the CM, he kept aside all the pretensions and started exhibiting them blatantly. The latest example is his confrontation with Lt Governor of Delhi. He has turned a legitimate fight for powers of the elected government into a personal battle.

Kejriwal could have raised the issue in a more dignified and politically sound manner without resorting to acts like sealing off the office of a senior bureaucrat or making allegations against another in public.  He is one of the important next generation leaders and is certainly competing with his contemporaries and seniors. Can people trust him with a new kind of leadership that could contribute positively to the Indian democracy? His style is hardly assuring.  

The latest turn of events only reinforces the view that Kejriwal is now a completely changed person. The first action came in his decision of sidelining his senior associates like Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan, Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha and then throwing them out of the party. All these faces had contributed to building up the image of the party and its leader.

Same old allegations were made that dissenters were disloyal to the supreme leader and it was necessary to show them the door. This was the best way to subvert the idea of inner-party democracy and Kejriwal unhesitatingly adopted it. This is the simplest method which has been consistently in use in every party. Nothing was new in the allegation against Yadav and others.
Many were wondering how a leader who had been reiterating his commitment to establish higher forms of democracy could take such a step. A close watch on his political actions since he badly lost the Lok Sabha battle reveals that it was not a sudden change.
The moves can be traced back to his attempts to acquire the throne of Delhi for a second time. The audio recordings and e-mail exchanges of the period indicate that he desperately tried to mobilise the support of Congress MLAs to form the government. He pursued it despite a huge resistance from within his party. The evidence suggests he tried to implement his decisions by any means.   

When he failed to form the government, he decided to contest elections with all his might and he cared for only one thing – his victory. He did not care whether his candidates were fulfilling the criteria his party had made or whether his campaign was expensive. So, the behavioural changes in him are the logical extensions of the politics he is doing. The politics he is engaging in has to be arrogant and autocratic.

A deeper analysis reveals a pattern as well. What he did to Yadav, Bhushan and Anand Kumar, he had done earlier to others as well including Anna Hazare and Aruna Roy, his former mentors. His allegation that Yadav and others were conspiring against him has hardly any truth in it. No one was in a position to challenge his leadership. His moves were clearly inspired by individualism. But this arrogance is not limited only to Kejriwal.
Fake degree controversy
Others in his team are also prone to this tendency. His Law Minister Jitendra Tomar is embroiled in a fake degree controversy and the Tilka Manjhi University of Bihar has submitted an affidavit in the court to say that his degree is not genuine. But Tomar is not ready to resign and for some unknown reason, Kejriwal too is unable to ask him to do so. When he was agitating for Lokpal, he had demanded resignations of union ministers even when there were no court cases against them. 

This individualism is not only being reflected in Kejriwal’s decision of party affairs but also in his decision of governmental affairs. The case of senior officer Ashish Joshi is an example. He was asked to quit Delhi Dialogue Commission following his refusal to appoint six AAP volunteers to the post of coordinators. The orders were made on telephone. Joshi is also said to have been humiliated by AAP volunteers. According to insiders, ministers are being treated shabbily and decisions are being taken by the CM and his deputy Manish Sisodia. It is anybody’s guess that after the exit of persons like Yadav, Bhushan and  Anand Kumar, no one in the party can confront Kejriwal and Sisodia on any issue.
Only a few days ago, Kejriwal made some outrageous remarks against the media and announced public trial if the latter criticised him. Now, the controversy over the appointment of acting chief secretary and Kejriwal’s battle against the LG are making headlines. Many have supported his fight for unambiguous power to the Delhi CM to appoint its chief secretary, but most of them have suggested that he should have refrained from overreacting and avoided humiliating the bureaucrats.
Kejriwal’s admirers and supporters are worried over the arrogance and individualism he has been displaying since his ascension to the CM’s post. He has been showing disrespect to institutions and to the democratic norms in his dealings with party affairs and in his governance. The party and its leadership are losing shine.

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