Is Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal `a man in a hurry’?

By Manisha Singh | Last Updated: Feb 27, 2014, 17:52 PM IST

Just before he went on his infamous dharna outside the Rail Bhavan in the national capital, Aam Aadmi Party convener and Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, told some TV channels that he was a ‘man in a hurry’. He may have uttered those words probably meaning that he was in a hurry to set all the things right that was wrong in our country, but inadvertently he said something that is being directed as a criticism at him now.

When Kejriwal launched his party in the backdrop of the Lokpal movement, his critics had said that he had used Anna Hazare as a launch-pad to jump into politics and that he had always harboured political ambitions. However, the media and a large section of people were ready to give him the benefit of doubt as Kejriwal and his team appeared earnest and honest to a large extent.

With scams after scams tumbling out of the UPA closet, there was a lot of anger among the people against the political class who were increasingly being seen as working only for their self-interest. In such an environment, the AAP came across as a party who were ready to work for the people without being smitten by the trappings of power and Kejriwal came across as an anti-thesis to self-aggrandizing politicians. However, two months after they won the historic Delhi Assembly elections, the bubble seems to have burst and Arvind Kejriwal finds himself continuously being embroiled in some controversy or the other.

To start with, even though he said that they took the support of the Congress to form government in Delhi because the people had wanted them to do so, Kejriwal was denounced by certain quarters for taking the support of the same party whom he had termed as ‘corrupt’ and against whom he had sought vote from the people. He was also denounced for making a U-turn on his promise of never taking support from either the Congress or the BJP. Incidentally, this was the beginning of several U-turns that he has been accused of making till now.

Right after he became the CM of Delhi, Kejriwal was doing a press conference a day and the media was in attendance at all times and in full force. He must have thought that he had well and truly arrived. Even though murmurs had begun that he was taking the cameras along with him for publicity and to be in news, by and large he was hailed as the man of the moment. However, by a quirk of fate, all that changed after one such exercise went wrong and the same media which had dubbed him as the man of action, began questioning his ability to govern and his inexperience.

That moment came when the Delhi CM held his first Janata Darbar. Thousands of people turned up for the event, the AAP leaders were ill-prepared for it, chaos ensued, security issues cropped up, Kejriwal had to scoot from the venue and things became pretty awry. Needless to say, the Opposition along with the media questioned the way the darbar was held and why a big deal was made out of it? This was not the first time that something like this was being done by a chief minister. CMs like Ooman Chandy and Nitish Kumar have been holding such darbars for years.

Kejriwal scrapped the darbar and justified his move by saying that he had not anticipated such a crowd. But the worst was yet to come and that was when Kejriwal along with his ministers and MLAs went on a protest outside the Rail Bhavan demanding suspension of those policemen who had apparently misbehaved with his ministers and were accused by AAP of dereliction of duty.

This time around all hell broke loose. It was just a few days before the Republic Day celebrations - the police went into a tizzy, metro trains were cancelled, people faced problems reaching office and what did the Delhi CM do? He went ahead and announced that he was an ‘anarchist’ and was ‘spreading disorder’. This statement, coming from an elected representative and a CM of a state at that, shocked many, to say the least. What also shocked many was when he exhorted the police to shed their uniform and join their protest.

It is one thing to put forward one’s demand, fight with the Central government for the rights of the state, protest when things go wrong and it’s another to act irresponsibly when so many are looking up to you. However, Kejriwal did not go on a protest to spoil his image. He went on the protest to enhance it. It was just one of those times when even the most well thought-out plans backfire. Thus in the end, he backed off, more to save his face, after couple of policemen were sent on leave.
Those who denigrated Kejriwal for taking to the streets, instead of governing, had a point. Those who decried him for doing the ‘tamasha’ with an eye on the 2014 Lok Sabha polls also had a point.

The AAP convener has said more than once that the public will teach the Congress a lesson and will reject the BJP too. He probably feels that there is a wave for the AAP in the country and if they are able to win a substantial number of seats in the General Elections then he could emerge as the front-runner for the PM’s post if a `Front` can be cobbled together. This probably explains his desperation to be in news and garner eyeballs at all costs.

What happens in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and what kind of verdict the people give is a matter of conjecture as of now. However, there may be some truth in the matter when it is said that Kejriwal wants his government to fall, so that they can project themselves as victims and martyrs and sell themselves to the electorate as a viable alternative to the BJP and the Congress. Which brings us to the question - Have the compulsions of electoral politics taken over Kejriwal and the AAP? Is their sole aim now to fight the Lok Sabha polls and gain as much political mileage as they can so that they can become a force to reckon with in the next Parliament? And is Kejriwal in a tearing hurry to climb the stairs of power after being in politics for just over a year?

To be ambitious is justified. Everyone has the right to aim and work towards what they want to achieve. But what is not right is to indulge in rhetoric and posturing all the time just to gain brownie points. Should Kejriwal not have governed Delhi first and then gone national? Should AAP not tell the people as to what their vision is regarding India? Do they really hope to sweep the country on the single issue of corruption?

Also, Kejriwal and his men have got into the habit of levelling accusations at their political opponent without giving substantial proof. The Delhi CM recently took out a list of corrupt leaders belonging to both the Congress and the BJP. However, the proof is yet to come. The AAP accused BJP leaders Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and Dr Harsh Vardhan for trying to topple the Delhi government. Again, here too they had no proof to back their claims. Kejriwal must realize, they are following a dangerous path of shoot and scoot and this will only lessen their credibility in the eyes of the people.

Plus, Kejriwal and his team have also been accused of being arrogant. The Delhi CM’s comment against Sushilkumar Shinde and his law minister Somnath Bharti’s comment against Harish Salve and Jaitley were unbecoming of elected representatives to say the least. The Aam Aadmi Party captured the imagination of the people of Delhi in Assembly polls, but as they go national, can they sustain the momentum and can Kejriwal`s style of politics reap him dividends? Well, a couple of months and we will get the answer to this question…