Brewing Rift in AAP

Singh Guggi with Bhagwant Mann

Cocktail of corruption charges and series of electoral losses have given opportune time to Kejriwal baiters inside AAP to attack top leadership in the name of ‘one man one post’ jibe

By Anil Anand

The trade mark cap (topi) seems to have been blown off the head of Arvind Kejriwal, the ‘aam aadmi’. Post Punjab and Delhi Municipal elections both he and the party are scurrying for cover and at the same time hard-pressed to keep the flock together.

Earlier in success and lately in turmoil it has been reconfirmed that Arvind is AAP and AAP is Arvind, which is in gross violation of the newly formed political outfits’ charter which lay thrust on collective leadership flowing out of strong sense of decentralization. In nutshell it was the principal of participatory democracy involving the grassroot level workers in the decision making, as propounded by team Arvind, that made AAP look different and enthused many to join the ranks for a change and at the same time people overwhelming voted for them in Delhi Assembly elections.

On top of that AAP’s (read Arvind) resolution to weed out corruption by courageously naming shaming even the powerful and famous, though in terms of allegations, has been dealt a blow when one of his close confidants and a former cabinet colleague Kapil Mishra publically dragged his ‘guru’s’ name in certain cases of corruption. Mishra has since resorted to Gandhian ‘satyagrah’ demanding that Arvind and his cronies come out with details of their acts of omission and commission particularly in the matter of raising funds from foreign donors on the sly.

An electoral victory either in Punjab or Delhi would have given Arvind some moral strength to fight back dissent which in any case had been brewing in the fledgling party over the months. The defeats have totally exposed him to sniping by his own partymen reason being that all acts of the AAP including contesting elections have been Arvind’s solo efforts in total contravention of the fundamentals on which the party was found.  All these factors put together have increased Arvind’s vulnerability and in turn raised a question mark on AAP’ future.

It is too early and even naive to write obituary or an epithet for AAP. But it might soon be consumed by the misdirected and dictatorial acts of its own leader if he does not change.

Arvind is all-in-one and has assumed multiple roles for himself to the disliking of his own colleagues and volunteers.  He is the national convener of AAP, Delhi chief minister, a mascot and impliedly chief ministerial candidate in whatever state the elections take place with Punjab being a glaring example and, of course, a perpetual Prime Ministerial candidate. That is why his growing tendency to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi to set a direct clash with him for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The simmering dissent has given way to a loud crescendo the basics of which is the demand that he should relinquish the office of AAP’s national convener. However, Kapil Mishra’s charges of corruption and nepotism against Arvind have given rise to a demand that he resign as chief minister pending enquiry.

Will he resign from both the posts? Or resign from either of the one to regain some moral ground and weaken the dissent?

The chances are not very slim, as neither expression of remorse nor striking a conciliatory tone by addressing the objections exists in Arvind’s brand of politics. This can also be borne out from the fact that instead of addressing the intra-party squabbling, owning responsibility for poll debacles and dealing with corruption allegations in true spirit of the AAP charter he has adopted a diversionary tactics by holding Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) responsible for all ills plaguing the party.

He took a high moral ground in absolutely wrong sense of the term when he convened a day-long special Session of Delhi Assembly to showcase through a prototype that how EVMs’ can be manipulated to get desired election results. The diversionary tactics did work till the mock drill was live telecast by news channel but subsequently it gave rise to serious questions of impropriety on different counts including maintain silence on charges of corruption and nepotism.

The allegations of corruption in cohorts with another of his close confidant and Minister Sateyndra Jain has completely blown to smithereens the ‘mukhota’ of a crusader that Arvind has been wearing ever since he floated the political party against the wishes of his onetime mentor and Gandhian Anna Hazare. An incensed Hazare has already stated that he would sit on protest at Jantar Mantar demanding Delhi chief minister’s resignation if charges are proved correct.

Arvind will have to set his house in order and chalk out his priorities afresh but in line with AAP’s founding spirit for his political survival. He should learn to trust his fellow travelers and exhibit willingness to accommodate different shades of opinions rather than imposing own in the notorious style of other established political parties and their leaders. It was on account of his promise to adopt a different approach that people, in Delhi, trusted him despite his anarchist approach and took it as part of the process to usher into a change.

Three years down the line and Arvind has proved to be an anarchist and a run-off-the mill politician who is no different from traditional political leaders craving and manipulating to grab power and then stick to the chair. He might owe his electoral defeats in Punjab, Goa and later Delhi to manipulated EVMs, the fact of the matter is that it is the outcome of his growing disconnect with the people. For him the best means of keeping this connection going was by proving AAP’s credentials as being different from others.

A much bigger question stares Arvind in the eyes and through him to the AAP as to what exactly is the purpose of his political battle. Is it self-aggrandizement are empowering the ‘aam aadmi’ through overhauling the system politically as well administratively. Unfortunately the impression of Arvind being a self-seeker and his zest for power has gained currency and none other than he himself has given legitimacy to it.