Future of AAP: Kejriwal under Congress-BJP scanners! (Part-1)

Image credit: Biographydisc.com

-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that came to power in Delhi as a rude shock to the then leading parties like Congress and BJP ruling the state capital state alternatively since the Delhi state came into being. Arvind Kejriwal, the crusader for social causes, led the political regime change in Delhi and sent shock waves to the entire country of arrival of a serious threat to corrupt politicians.

Congress party that promotes corruption officially through its governments across the nation is worst affected outfit.

But corrupt politicians in all parties woke up to face the challenge to their illegal and immoral operations through political parties and Congress and BJP led that opposition.

While the Congress-BJP duo and central government through its Lieutenant Governor accelerated the move to unseat AAP government and end Kejriwal politics by falsely implicating him in corruption cases. Poor Delhi Chief Minister still thinks his “honesty” and people of Delhi would save him.

Delhi people chose Kejriwal to lead the Delhi state while India is immersed in petty politics often forgetting the needs of its citizens. Kejriwal knows Congress-BJP duo is pulling the carpet from under his feet.

Is Kejriwal a prisoner?

The image of “Great” Arvind Kejriwal got distorted when his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lost all five parliamentary seats in the Delhi state to BJP. He did not contest from there but went to Uttar Pradesh (UP) on a failed mission to defeat the PM candidate Narendra Modi in Varanasi where BJP won easily.

This failure taught Kejriwal a useful lesson about the secret alliance between two national parties; Congress and BJP. They would not permit AAP to make any inroads in the country because this new party would destroy both the essentially Hindutva parties. It did not help Arvind slash down his tone of arrogance towards fellow leaders like Prashant Bhushan. However, it did produce a tough course for AAP’s survival in the state.

True; AAP is the ruling party with enough majority in the Delhi State. Even if it loses a few more MLAs crossing over to BJP nothing would affect the fortunes of the party in the near future. However, its image as a great party is dropping in the public mind.

Kejriwal’s arrogance, even if for the sake of purity of politics, has affected the future of the party as a possible rise to a national party. That is indeed the success of secret alliance between BJP and the Congress. A consolidated AAP would have faced and repelled all accusations and destabilization efforts of these parties convincingly. But now even his former comrades are also against him, allowing the BJP-Congress alliance to compete actively in the troubled Delhi waters.

Continued arrogance in the face to harsh conspiracies and the rough political weather is indeed madness. By refusing to read the writings on the Delhi walls, Arvind is committing a grave mistake against the aspirations of the Delhiites and India.

Delhiites and Indians looked forward to AAP to save their nation and the people from the corrupt and fanatic politicians. Kejriwal does not venture out of Delhi where he is kept busy the aggressive Congress-BJP duo and thus became a virtual prisoner.

If anyone thinks Congress is not a Hindutva party like BJP, they are mistaken. It is the Congress which is instrumental in fostering the Hindutva parties like BJP and VHP and their “mother RSS,” India to keep Muslims under stress and strains.

Of course, RSS is the mother to Indian military as well.

There is a serious complaint that the government is using the electronic voting machine (EVM) to produce a pro-BJP verdict in the polls and the local election of Delhi Corporation. These are substantial allegations even though the BJP government is ignoring it.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) members have blamed the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) malpractice for its defeat.

Kejriwal, unlike what the Congress government had described him, is not childish and he is well versed in political manners too. After his defeat in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal congratulated the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and expressed his willingness to work with the winning party for the betterment of Delhi.

In a major setback to the Aam Admi Party, the BJP swept the municipal corporation polls in Delhi. The results showed that AAP had lost almost half of its vote share while the BJP increased theirs from nearly 4% in 2015 to 37% now. BJP swept MCD Polls in 181 wards; AAP finished a distant second in 48 wards while the Congress got 30.

Following the BJP’s victory in the MCD elections, Congress leaders like Delhi chief Ajay Maken announced their resignations from their posts.

The AAP government or its CM Kejriwal did not resign. AAP lost constituencies held by senior leaders and MLA like Satyendra Jain, Somnath Bharti and others like Alka Lamba, Gopal Rai, and Kapil Mishra. AAP blamed tampering of electronic voting machines (EVM).

The AAP continued to remain in a denial mode and insisted that it was not a victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi but the electronic voting machines (EVMs). “This is an EVM wave, not a Modi wave,” said Delhi minister Gopal Rai. The party has been insisting since the Punjab assembly election results in March that the EVMs can be manipulated and that this was the primary cause for BJP’s victory in the last election. According to some BJP leaders making Manoj Tiwari, the President of the BJP state unit worked in their favor, given the changing demographics of the city. Tiwari, an actor, and Bhojpuri singer started his political career in Samajwadi Party and moved to the BJP after 2011. He infused some new energy into the party as some of the old school RSS leaders were becoming unappealing. The Jats, Yadavs, and Gujjars — the original residents of the rural pockets — are now outnumbered by Poorvanchali migrants from UP and Bihar in many of the villages of Delhi. In the unauthorized colonies, where a third of Delhi’s population lives, Poorvanchalis are the dominant group. The induction of Tiwari, a Bhojpuri celebrity who had already won for BJP the Northeast Delhi Lok Sabha seat, a Poorvanchali hub, in 2014, to wean these voters away from the AAP and the Congress seemed to have paid off well.

Possibly BJP is waiting for the next assembly poll to field Manoj Tiwari as the CM candidate to defeat Arvind as Kiran Bedi could not help the BJP with the Delhi assembly and government. PM Modi had to make her the Lt governor of Pondicherry to save her image as a successful police officer with IPS rank.

Part -2

The problem facing the ruling AAP government is Congress, which is now uprooted in Delhi state, must be keen to see its secret ally the BJP wrestle power from AAP and finish it off once for all with Congress party providing logistic and political support. BJP does not require money from Congress as it is strong finically now. Although the BJP could not defeat the AAP in the assembly poll, it could defeat it in the parliamentary election as well as the recently held Corporation polls in Delhi and New Delhi. That means Delhiites have not yet entirely driven the BJP out of Delhi state, unlike the Congress party whose fate is sealed for now, if not forever.
India is passing through a delicate phase of political upheaval. A hitherto unseen burst of Hindutva moorings alongside the anti-corruption movement of Kejriwal-Hazare removed Congress from power at the center. While the Modi government and BJP under his governance and management have succeeded in sidelining and gradually phasing out Congress party as a primary stake holder in national politics. The recent election for President and Vice President have comfortably proven that.
The BJP is in, and Congress is out. Swap is almost complete, though many mostly corrupt parties try to help Congress party to stay in politics because Congress governments let the corrupt elements to loot the nation as much as they can with state protections while BJP may not or if even if it does they are not feeling “homely” with Hindu forces.
BJP ended up winning most of the wards in Delhi state as they used their resounding victory in Uttar Pradesh to their advantage. Pre-2014 BJP was different from the one we have now. We have raised the bar,” Tiwari said. Admitting that governance standards in local bodies wanted before Modi took over as the PM, he claimed that having “Modi as BJP’s policy” would change that.

Focus

AAP has concentrated on a few states for stakes in the government formation and failed as it is no match for manipulative politics of Congress-BJP duo. Punjab, Goa, and Karnataka are their focus these days. In Goa, the AAP party fought and lost badly. In Punjab, the Congress wrestled the assembly from BJP coalition and AAP could not muster enough strength there. In Karnataka where Congress and BJP fight a hard politics AAP cannot hope for anything.

Delhi verdict in local polls has confused the AAP party. The so-called “pep talk” Arvind Kejriwal gave to newly elected municipal corporators of the Aam Aadmi Party on Thursday was hardly the way to enthuse people who have lost the fervor of people. Though these brave hearts had just battled an electoral tornado and kept the party flag afloat, the meeting began with the Delhi chief minister chastising them severely for being late and keeping him waiting.

Kejriwal has been stricken with the victimhood syndrome ever since he became chief minister, and during this talk, he tried to spread the infection. Instead of telling party officials that displaying ethical scruples was the best way to ward off BJP attempts to lure them, he advised them to record every phone conversation. “Once you have recorded the conversation, we will call a press conference and play it,” he declared.

The logic why AAP members should refuse inducements is also warped. “You don’t need money, you didn’t have to buy party tickets and spend lakhs of rupees on the campaign,” was Kejriwal’s logic. He forgot that people accept bribes for other reasons too, mostly because they are low on principles.

Instead of beginning the interaction — with many of them for the first time — by enhancing their self-esteem by dwelling on the significance of their victories when others fell by the wayside, Kejriwal’s address was loaded with moral sermonizing. Instead of celebrating their success, the repeated emphasis was on recalling past glory. Instead of talking about the crisis that the party faces after the rout in Delhi and subpar performances in Punjab and Goa, the AAP supremo romanticized about the halcyon days of the party.

Kejriwal did not, even once, applaud the achievements of these winners, instead of verbalizing the party’s emergence from the anti-corruption agitation and crediting every electoral accomplishment to that movement. “Countless people made sacrifices, and your victories are due to these sacrifices,” he told the gathered members. Instead of recognizing their unique abilities and displaying trust in them, they were lectured that their victory was due to past contributions of others.

They were also warned against succumbing to temptations — almost making it out that the newly-elected AAP corporators would be more than willing to barter the party tag for a Bharatiya Janata Party label. It was unfortunate that in his first meeting with them, the party chief displayed doubts over their loyalty. By casting such aspersions and suggesting that he feared that many of them could be lured into the BJP fold, Kejriwal showed AAP’s process of candidate selection was anything but flawless
Image loss

AAP lost its image and credibility. India Today listed the rifts within the party as one of the reasons for their defeat. With several MLAs expressing their displeasure and some even jumping ship, there was a negative perception among voters. As soon as its MLA from Bawana Ved Prakash quit the party to join BJP, every day the speculation of more following the suit hurt the party’s credibility. Another MLA Rajesh Rishi cautioned party chief against ‘sycophants’ and used twitter as his platform. The biggest blow was a video by senior leader Kumar Vishwas who not only kept away from the Party’s campaign for crucial MCD polls but also released a video slamming his party on the issue of corruption Facing a barrage of criticism for continuing to blame EVMs for their loss, report suggest that a meeting was held at the Chief Minister’s residence where the election was discussed.

AAP leader Sanjay Singh said organizational improvement was needed and the party would work towards it. The AAP leader’s remarks came after a long meeting of the party’s Political Affairs Committee (PAC) at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence recently. The PAC meeting was organized to “introspect” and analyze the AAP’s humiliating defeat in Delhi municipal elections, results of which were announced. After the meeting, Singh told reporters that the party “introspected” on what went wrong and where “we fell short.” He said the party would work on all levels including structural and booth level and “make necessary changes.” He said the PAC also discussed the tampering of EVMs. He said nearly 18 political parties of the country had raised doubts over EVMs then why is it that the AAP is being made fun of. AAP is still a serious threat not just to both Congress and BJP but also for all corrupt politicians across the political spectrum of the nation.

Singh also took on the political opponents who had raised questions about party’s progress and its future. He said one cannot write off the AAP as in the past four years, all that the party has achieved was not less. The Bharatiya Janata Party won the civic polls bagging 181 municipal wards out of 270 and pushed the AAP to a distant second spot with 48 wins. The Congress could emerge victorious only at 30 wards.

Almost half of the MLAs present said that they did not believe that EVMs were the issue. Following the party meet, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Jagdeep Singh said, “If we find anything concrete on EVMs, we will talk about it.” Similarly, Avtar Singh, who is the AAP legislator from Kalkaji, did not comment on EVMs and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal refrained from speaking on electronic voting machines (EVMs) after the MCD election result. The AAP party has legitimate concerns, and the AAP said it would continue doubting this.
In contrast to the Assembly election in 2015 when only the most unfortunate AAP members suffered defeats, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls saw only the pluckiest candidates overcame public sentiment against the party.

For a party whose vote share was eroded by almost half, the leadership’s failure to shower victors with wholesome praise indicated scant respect.
Concern

AAP’s chief concern today is to keep the Delhi state intact, not letting more MLA’s to join the BJP bandwagon on big promises. After an unforeseen setback in the MCD elections, reports suggest, Kejriwal and AAP have changed quite a bit in their approaches, are eager to work as per people’s wishes, after all, they are the ultimate deciders of the fate of AAP.
Defeats lead to criticism. Within the AAP party too, there are signs of discontent. Bhagwant Mann criticized the leadership for their immaturity. He was quoted as saying that they were behaving like a mohalla cricket team. This video of an angry supporter also surfaced online.
While the BJP rides the UP wave to success, there is also a feeling that AAP’s conduct of late gave its rival a push. Arvind Kejriwal must be willing to be a student and use this opportunity to learn and stop with the constant barrage of complaints against the incumbent in Raj Niwas. And above all, Arvind must learn to hold the hot little buck and accept responsibility.

A Delhi court on Aug 08, 2017 fixed August 23 for framing charges against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia in a criminal defamation complaint. Metropolitan Magistrate Pranjal Aneja, who was scheduled to frame charges today, was on leave. The court had earlier directed the two AAP leaders and Yogendra Yadav to appear before it today. While Kejriwal and Sisodia sought exemption on the ground that they have to attend the four-day Monsoon session of Delhi Assembly which is commencing today, Yadav was present in the court. The court had on August 2 passed an order on framing of notice (charge) on the criminal defamation complaint filed against the two AAP leaders, who sought to quash of the plea and Yadav by advocate Surender Kumar Sharma, who was denied ticket by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Part -3

Observation

Any political analyst will accept that AAP has done better than expected and risen higher than the groundswell of public opinion had indicated. It was projected that he would almost be laughed off this stage. But he has had a speaking part. While nowhere near the BJP juggernaut’s sweep of the MCD polls, AAP has shown that even in its mangled state, it is more viable than Congress. There is a consensus among most political observers that the constant blame game with the Centre has not worked in their favor. The vote is not against the theatrics and agitation politics of the AAP.
AAP government has done fairly well – mohalla clinics, free water supply, reduction in electricity rates, construction of 8,000 new classrooms in schools and much more. However, all this good work is dwarfed by its constant tu-tu main-main with the central government which used its Lt. Governor to fight him badly.

Delhiites and most Indians like and approve of honesty and hard work as the ideology of Aam Aadmi Party for the development of Delhi and India. Yes, it has changed drastically. You can now see Arvind Kejriwal and his team of Ministers visiting the constituencies and meeting the people. It would be further better if the MLAs and the Municipal Councilors of AAP also interact with the people very frequently, inspecting the projects/hospitals/public offices, etc. on the field.

Before the local polls, given the current political scenario in the capital, reports said barring an odd candidate, all AAP nominees in the by-polls would forfeit their security deposit. That would have possibly triggered mass desertions, and Kejriwal will then be fighting to stay in office till 2020. There is no denying that BJP will make every attempt to weaken AAP further and paralyze the state government. That has not happened -at least not yet.

When he was sworn in as chief minister in February 2015 on the back of a sweeping victory, when AAP got support from all sections of people, Kejriwal had warned party colleagues to guard against hubris sets in. At his post swearing-in speech, he declared, “When one gets such a victory, arrogance can creep in. And if one gets arrogant, everything is lost. That is why all of us — me, the ministers, MLAs, families, volunteers must be on guard. We’ll have to introspect constantly and question ourselves to ensure we don’t turn arrogant. If we become arrogant, we will never complete our mission.” Kejriwal has not kept that pledge. The jury may still be out on whether AAP will ever accomplish its objective or not.

Unfortunately, there are already talks about an obituary for AAP. The obituary of Congress party had been written a couple of times when the party was crushed in the general polls, but the party could bounce back to rule the country and many of its regional states. Every party is corrupt and one autocratic leader controls the party with the help of kith and kin. So, it would be unwise to write the AAP party’s obituary right away. But unless the party leadership, Kejriwal downward begin the promised introspection sooner than later, it will be tough to keep obit writers at bay.
Maybe, what the AAP and many columnists say about the fake victory of BJP, “achieved” through EVMs, cannot be over ruled. Only a judicial investigation could clear the doubts. The party has been insisting since the Punjab assembly election results in March that the EVMs can be manipulated and that they are the leading cause of BJP’s victory in the last election.

AAP corporators, contended the leader, should always remember that “betraying the movement would mean that you have betrayed God.” Even if one accepts money and crosses over to the BJP, one must “remember that you will never be happy. The money shall not bear fruit, and God will extract twice or even three times the amount — it will cause you great pain and anguish”, he told them.

Arvind needs to understand a simple thing in politics. Continued arrogance in the face to harsh conspiracies and rough political wealthier is indeed madness. By refusing to read the writing Delhi walls, Arvind commits a serious crime against Delhiites and India.

Thus far PM Modi’s wave could not affect the Delhi assembly polls but future cannot be predicted as hatred and poison have thinly immersed in Indian politics making Modi brand politics a favorite of majority of Hindus and there for the Modi magic might work next time in Delhi as well, especially when many AAP leaders, including former ones, are working against the party and government.

AAP is confronted not with a moral crisis, but an existential emergency. Because it is a new party, it will have to face the bitter truth that the problem begins at the top. Unlike old and traditional parties, AAP cannot wait for BJP to make mistakes. It has to be prepared for the eventuality that 20 of its MLAs will be disqualified on the parliamentary secretary issue.

It is the time that such ambush-style politics of AAP was replaced with issue-based opposition to the BJP. Before stinging others, the AAP leader must remember that over the past two years, there have been several exposures over AAP legislators’ brushes with the law. Instead of accepting that the blame lay within, Kejriwal is attempting to brazen it out.

Poll debacle suggests AAP is in the throes of an existential emergency. Only time will tell if AAP learns its lessons and reinvents itself while at the same time managing to govern the state with BJP heading local bodies. It will surely be an uphill task.

That won’t be good for Kejriwal or AAP or Delhi.

Political manipulations and illogical alliance can oust AAP from power. And it is quite likely that the AAP may not be able to come back to power again. Anything is possible in politics, but if Kejriwal still refuses to read the writing on Delhi walls, and declines to make amendments with former colleagues with whom launched the new idea and AAP and allies, Indian politics would lose the curiosity and alertness.

Fall of AAP, which has been a novel idea of Indian people for a corruption free and genuine government, is undoubtedly not a defeat for the people but for the system that supports and promotes corruption as state policy and opposes and strikes harshly with all its might if a new party emerges to weed out corruption from Indian soil which would necessarily pave the way for honest and transparent global governance

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