Mr Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi, came to be known as The Muffler Man because of the unique style in which he was always found to be supporting a muffler in the winter months during his election campaigns and afterwards. However, today it may be more appropriate to tag him as ‘The Bluffer Man’ since he has been bluffing his way out ever since he came to power in Delhi.
First it was the gimmick of reducing power tariffs, something that his Aam Admi Party (AAP) promised in their election manifesto. The power tariff was reduced by 50% for all consumers consuming less than 400 units per month. This reduction was an adhoc populist decision rather than a decision based on a proper study and scrutiny to arrive at an optimum power tariff rate for the long term. The distribution companies (Discoms) were not affected since as per the Power Secretary the revenue losses would be subsidized by the Delhi government.
So in principle it was like robbing Peter to pay Paul since the subsidy would have to come from some other expenditure head within the total governmental revenues. Unfortunately the common citizen did not understand the implications of this methodology adopted by the AAP government. This was not the only sham that was perpetuated on the people of Delhi. The special audit of all Discoms was started with a lot of noise and publicity with the aim of setting a proper benchmark for the pricing of power. However the fate of that special audit is nowhere to be seen and neither the common Delhi citizen is wiser as on date, nor of course is the government of the day in Delhi.
Next, there was the no holds barred ruckus for grant of greater powers and full statehood to Delhi. Mr Kejriwal called the Lt. Governor all kinds of names and passed some very derogatory remarks in his efforts to belittle the Lt. Governor and his office. He tried to convince the people of Delhi in a malicious manner that all the ills being faced by the state were because of the central government since they were not keen to accord full statehood. All this drama was good publicity for Mr Kejriwal but there was nothing in it for the common man.
The three municipal corporations were crying for funds and Mr Kejriwal was in no mood to oblige. So the famous “filth politics’ were born and once again while the common man suffered, Mr Kejriwal made hay and tried to raise his stock as a crusader cum politician of national importance. Mr Kejriwal did his best to fool the public into believing that unless full statehood was granted to Delhi, no effective development or governance was possible in Delhi. There could hardly be a greater myth since Delhi has come a long way in last few decades even with the present status of partial statehood. Today that fight seems to have suddenly either ended or gone out of flavour since nothing much is heard about it. Delhi is where it was – dirty and mismanaged.
Mr Kejriwal has made tall claims about reducing corruption in Delhi. There are hoardings at many places showing how many officers and others at junior level have been suspended for corruption related crimes. The question is has it helped the common man in any way? One would have to be very naive to assume it has. Mr Kejriwal exhorts citizens to record or video graph any incident where a government official asks for a bribe and then send it to the authorities for action. That in nutshell is his whole plan to check corruption in Delhi.
He would like all citizens to become ‘sting operators’ based on his own experience of carrying out sting operations both within and outside his party. Just as his own sting operations landed him in some very uncomfortable positions, the common citizen too is likely to be in the same boat if he takes Mr Kejriwal’s advice seriously. If this is his vision for a corruption free Delhi, then all one can say is that just as a joke went around about Rakhi Sawant’s luggage comprising of only a match box in view of the very short dresses she generally wears, Mr Kejriwal’s vision for a corruption free Delhi could well be summed up in one word – sting. One really wonders what Mr Kejriwal did or learn in his over twenty years of service with the Indian Revenue Service (IRS). Obviously it was not much if his action plan for corruption free Delhi is an example.
The internal struggle within AAP saw the exit of some stalwarts like Mr Shanti Bhushan, Mr Prashant Bhushan and Mr Yadav who were among the founders of the party. Did Mr Kejriwal make any efforts to stop the exit? In all probability he did not since for most part he just kept quiet and let some of his chosen cronies fight his dirty battles. It suited him to have such people out of the party to make sure that there was no competition within AAP and no doubt in any one’s mind as to who was the supreme boss. Internal democracy and Lokpal, both parts of the founding principles of the AAP, were all forgotten and consigned to the dustbin during this struggle. What did emerge was a very clear message that AAP is Kejriwal and Kejriwal is AAP. Anyone who does not subscribe to this axiom has no place in the party. Of course as far as the public is concerned Mr Kejriwal is still an ‘aam admi’. He has also devised ingenious ways to keep his newly elected flock in good humour by appointing 21 parliamentary secretaries apart from giving some adhoc position to many other AAP workers. It does not make any difference to him that the Delhi government will be spending quite a pile to host all these people..
AAP presented its first budget for Delhi a couple of weeks ago. As expected Mr Kejriwal was on the air beating his trumpet to highlight the salient features of the budget. In his monotonous voice he states that they (meaning Mr Kejriwal) have doubled the outlay for education and now every citizen in Delhi can aspire for better education. Of course Mr Kejriwal does not feel there is any need to actually instil some efficiency in the educational system of Delhi by measures like assuring greater dedication of teachers, better class room facilities, greater accountability of staff, ensuring student attendance, taking steps to reduce the dropout rate, or monitoring the quality of education being dispensed. Some how he feels that the extra money allocated will do the trick and rest will just happen.
Similarly he feels by increasing the health budget by 50% the job is done and soon every Delhi citizen will have the best of health facilities. It is obvious that the need for improving the professionalism and quality of medical care in dispensaries and hospitals that form part of the health services of the state has never crossed Mr Kejriwal’s mind. While the budget figures for education and health were being bleated at the top of his voice, some other allocations in the budget were not even mentioned. Did Mr Kejriwal even once tell his fellow citizens as to why the government’s advertisement and publicity budget had been hiked by over 2100 percent? Obviously not since that is something he does not wish to bring in the public domain as far as possible. It is no secret that the funds for publicity and advertising are meant primarily to project Mr Kejriwal’s candidature to fulfil his national aspirations. It has nothing to do with the state of Delhi. After all it is only a small price to be paid by the aam admi to see another aam admi scale new heights.
Then we had the bizarre circular issued by the AAP government that sought to file defamation cases against media organisations for publishing or broadcasting any news that damaged the reputation of the Chief Minister, his council of ministers or the government. It went without saying that as long as the media praised the government or it’s Chief Minister that was acceptable. It appears Mr Kejriwal and his party have forgotten that they owe their success mainly to the media since it created a hype around the AAP that helped them to reach where they are today in a very short time frame. But now that the purpose has been served, it appears Mr Kejriwal feels it is time to tame the media. Unfortunately his bluff was called and the case is in the court for a ruling. One would be surprised if the AAP government is not told to withdraw the circular once the ruling comes out. In fact AAP has already made statements to that effect.
The latest proposal to increase the salaries and perks of the Delhi legislature MLAs once again shows what Mr Kejriwal and his party are up to. The newly elected AAP members of legislature have realised rather early, in just four months that their pay and allowances need to be doubled to say the least. The justification being that most of them have no other source of income and therefore the current remuneration is not adequate. As on date they get about a hundred thousand rupees every month apart from other perks which are substantial to say the least. Will someone please tell Mr Kejriwal and his band of upstart politicians that in our state of Delhi majority of the ‘aam admies’ do not even earn 15% of this amount and they too do not have any other sources of income. As a matter of interest only a few years ago in 2011 the pay and allowances of a Delhi MLAs were doubled. These mostly first time MLAs have yet to prove themselves and do something of note, yet their leader is in agreement with them when they make such atrocious demands at the cost of a common man. The VIP tantrums of some of his colleagues have already made headlines from time to time. It does appear that after being elected the ‘Aam Admi’ has turned ‘Khas Admi’ and the VIP bug seems to have bitten them hard.
In his latest radio advertisement, Mr Kejriwal makes a very interesting point about there being no shortage of money or resources in the government. If there is any shortage, as per him, it is of good intent and commitment on part of the leaders and other office bearers. Frankly nothing could be truer. But the problem is Mr Kejriwal would like to be counted as an exception to this universal truth of Indian politics and governance. Unfortunately none of his actions, as on date, support that claim and his overall report card is not something about which he can be proud of. Frankly there is no perceptible change in the way Delhi is being governed today despite many promises made by Mr Kejriwal in the last couple of years. The question is does he have it in him to make a mark and provide Delhi an effective administration. Frankly neither he nor his team instil any confidence in this regard.
Is it any wonder then that in all probability the Muffler Man has today transformed into a Bluffer Man. He has never had the courage to own up for a failure, instead he always either tries to bluff his way out or pass the buck. When will the Aam Admi wake up and realise that he is being taken for a ride since in the final analysis only one thing matters for Mr Kejriwal – and that is Mr Kejriwal himself. He is using the system to the hilt to develop his own image of being a crusader politician who can one day challenge Mr Narendra Modi in the near future.
If the road to that goal calls for bluffing his way out, then so be it. Is it any wonder then that this man did nothing of note during his 20 odd years in the administrative service; he parted ways with Shri Anna Hazare without taking their cause to its logical end since ambition overtook any social responsibility that he may have felt in some corner of his heart. He ran away from responsibility when the state of Delhi gave him a mandate to govern in his first stint as the Chief Minister. He showed no remorse or guilt when he booted out some of the founding fathers of his party who were fighting for restoring the principles on which AAP was created. But then politics is neither kind nor unforgiving. Sooner or later, Mr Kejriwal, your bluff will be called and then what will you be – may be a Failure Man.