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Please Throw Away Your Muffler This Winter, Mr. Kejriwal

22/09/2016 10:14 AM IST | Updated 18/10/2016 8:42 AM IST
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Anindito Mukherjee / Reuters

They say god works in mysterious ways, but to me there's no greater mystery than our very own aam admi, Arvind Kejriwal.

Arvind Kejriwal is turning out to be a man full of so many complexities that even the most seasoned and experienced psychologists would be scratching their heads in desperation. He fears that the Centre (aka BJP) is after his life, yet he doesn't hesitate to throw stones at it. He talks of leading the country, yet he doesn't have the power to buy a pen. He stands for anti-corruption, yet there are accusations of corrupt distribution of tickets to party members in Punjab. He says he is there for Delhi's aam aadmi, yet he goes AWOL amidst the crisis of dengue and chikungunya.

Before we analyze the man, let us first understand that Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party are two sides of the same coin. As Munna Bhai would have told Circuit: "AAP bole toh Arvind Kejriwal, aur Arvind Kejriwal bole toh AAP!"

The AAP tsunami

Such was the wave of change which AAP created in the 2013 Delhi State Assembly elections that a political abecedarian like Ashok Kumar Chauhan defeated Congress's Prem Singh, a veteran holding a record of never losing an election in the past 50 years! The second wave in 2015 was bigger, way beyond anyone's expectations, and AAP swept both BJP and Congress out of Delhi.

Delhi, especially its youth, embraced the party for what it stood for—for being different, for its promise to wipe out rampant corruption, for showing that even a common person can fight the system and redefine the political landscape. There is no question about the intention with which Aam Aadmi Party was formed and why the broom was picked up.

Arvind Kejriwal and AAP are two sides of the same coin. As Munna Bhai would have told Circuit: "AAP bole toh Arvind Kejriwal, aur Arvind Kejriwal bole toh AAP!"

However, the promised revolution is nowhere in sight. Hardly 18 months of governance and AAP is mired in controversies and allegations of the kinds of malpractices that it promised to fight. Leaving Delhi in the doldrums, Kejriwal is busy spreading his wings over Punjab, Goa and Gujarat. People wanted to see a change but Delhi is still the same. If anything has changed, it is the voter's confidence in AAP and its supremo. The dissatisfaction is not just limited to the public. Anna Hazare, whose fight against corruption in 2011 gave birth to the politician in Kejriwal, is saddened and anguished by his power-hungry (former) follower.

Critics of AAP have frequently and correctly pointed out that Kejriwal's constant theatrics and skirmishes are a bid to grab the limelight whilst also distracting from his unfulfilled promises and the U-turns on his own policies and principals.

Did he say that or did he not?

Now it's hard to comprehend who is the real Kejriwal. Is he the man who swore on his children that he would never take support from corrupt political parties or the one who formed the government in 2013 with the support of his arch enemy, Congress? Kejriwal promised "nashamukti". But according to party co-founders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, the AAP government issued 399 new licenses to liquor vends/stores and restaurants. They have alleged that the locals were not consulted before issuing these licences. AAP has been clearly digressing from the promise of Swaraj.

Democracy and Swaraj should begin from the innermost circles of AAP but the reality has been quite the opposite. Disgruntled by Kejriwal's unilateral decision making and his allegedly narcissistic behaviour, party co-founders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav split to form Swaraj Abhiyan. There are deep fissures within the ranks of AAP, with differences coming to the surface and boiling over. Before rising to power, Kejriwal and AAP were all about democracy, rule of the people, but today the Delhi Chief Minister seems to be on a track to destabilize the democratic system by going against the government machinery.

Delhi is in the ICU, where are the caretakers?

In his election speeches, Kejriwal had assured the people of Delhi that his government would see them through times of distress and misery. Now when the city needs him and the other leaders of his party, all that is left is empty chairs. Last month, as Delhi was battling with the scourges of dengue and chikungunya, he was receiving treatment for his own health ailments in Bengaluru. Around the same time, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia was in Finland to study their education system. Why Finland? Because Finland tops international rankings for their education system. It's fine to study it, but perhaps Sisodia should have considered that when we choose something as a role model, the system should be first analysed for suitability. There are stark contrasts between Finland and Delhi. The population of Delhi is 16.7 million as opposed to Finland's 5.4 million. Delhi's per capita income is ₹2.8 lakh whereas in Finland it is equivalent to ₹27.1 lakh. How necessary was this trip, really?

Can Kejriwal explain the ₹81 crore spent on having his face splashed all over Delhi and beyond?

Instead of taking appropriate measures to control the situation, the Kejriwal camp is passing the buck to the L-G. If one may ask, why is the Delhi government sitting on a health budget ₹5259 crore? When will all the 1000 mohalla clinics and 10,000 additional beds be available to the sick and dying?

Talking of blame game, Kejriwal seems to have mastered the technique.

Whose fault is it anyway?

It doesn't matter who did it, it is always BJP and Congress's fault. Kejriwal has found the perfect scapegoats. He believes in the antithesis of the saying, "if you point one finger, the other four are pointing back". Anyone and everyone by now knows that if they point one finger at Kejriwal or AAP, not four but nine fingers will point back. And that too on baseless issues. Delhi is suffering from vector-borne diseases? The LG is responsible. Rape cases are on the rise? Delhi police is responsible. India's relations with Nepal are suffering? It's because of Modi. Farmer Gajendra Singh's suicide at AAP rally? "A well thought conspiracy" of course. Somnath Bharti's wife speaking up against domestic violence? Clearly it's "a BJP-sponsored litigation". Kejriwal blames the Congress and BJP for toppling his government in 2014 as they were "scared of being thrown out."

Kejriwal has not been able to maintain the dignity of his chair and has been launching abusive attacks on one and all. In all this fiasco, he hasn't left the media behind. Anyone questioning his ways has to face verbal assaults in return, recent targets being senior journalists Rahul Kanwal and Shekhar Gupta. Not that this is new. In March 2014, he said that the entire media industry is "sold" and is promoting BJP. After facing heavy criticism from the Broadcast Editors' Association, he later denied having made the remarks.

Is Arvind Kejriwal trying to hide behind his insecurities? The mohalla clinics should have psychologists to treat those who got them rolling.

What happened to honourable and ethical politicians?

AAP promised not only a clean political system but also upright and honest people's representatives. But the past 18 months tell a different story. So far, at least 12 out of 67 AAP MLAs have been arrested for cases pertaining to rioting, extortion, forgery, assault on public servants, attempted murder, corruption, etc. Most of them are still facing various charges against them.

Mr. CM, one request... please throw away the muffler this winter. Delhi would like to see a leader who doesn't depend on a created image to win the hearts of the people.

Manoj Kumar was arrested for a land grab case and is being probed on charges of cheating and forgery, instigating security forces and misbehaving with women. A complaint has been filed against Sarita Singh in an alleged bribery case. Jitender Singh Tomar was arrested following complaints by the Bar Council of Delhi that his degree certificates were forged. Somnath Bharti is involved in a domestic violence and attempted murder case lodged against him by his wife. Akhilesh Pati Tripathi and Sanjeev Jha were sent to judicial custody for a rioting case and attack on a police station. Sharad Chauhan was arrested for allegedly abetting the suicide of a party volunteer, who had alleged harassment and molestation by his aides. Surinder Singh was arrested for assaulting an NDMC worker. Naresh Yadav was held for allegedly desecrating the Quran in Punjab. Mahendra Yadav was arrested for rioting. Amanatullah Khan was booked for intimidating a woman with rape and murder. Sandeep Kumar was removed by Kejriwal in August after being involved in a sex scandal.

How much is enough?

A party, which before coming to power had questioned other political parties for misusing public money (AAP had criticized the Sheila Dikshit government in 2010 for spending ₹23 crore during the Commonwealth Games), is now spending heavily on advertisements. According to a report, AAP spent ₹25 crore in 2013-14 which has jumped to ₹81 crore in 2015-16. In just 91 days, the party spent ₹14 crore on print advertisements, the majority of which came out in far off states like Kerala and Karnataka. Why is Delhi the tax-payer's money being spent on AAP's self-propaganda? Dissident AAP MLA Pankaj Pushkar, now an active member of Swaraj Abhiyan, has questioned the excessive government spending on advertisements, terming it as a waste of money which could have been utilized for developmental purposes. The Delhi government's spending of around ₹5 crore in publicizing the two rounds of the odd-even scheme, implemented for 15 days each in January and April 2016 respectively, is justifiable. But can Kejriwal explain the ₹81 crore spent on having his face splashed all over Delhi and beyond?

Before you answer that Mr. CM, one request... please throw away the muffler this winter. Delhi would like to see a leader who doesn't depend on a created image to win the hearts of the people.

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