AAM Admi Party (AAP) has been in power in Delhi for over 16 months now under the leadership of Mr Arvind Kejriwal (AK). It is no secret that AK has no love lost for the Prime Minister and it seems to have rubbed off on all his party MLAs and colleagues. Most of his MLAs are first timers and raw in politics – a trait that AK too shares with them. Majority of them can safely be categorised as political upstarts just like their leader. They seem to have no idea on how to conduct themselves in public or when dealing with the central government. Some of them are crude to the point of being obnoxious. Senior AAP functionaries like Mr Ashutosh and Mr Ashish Khaitan lead the pack in this ignominious category. Disagreement or criticism of others is an important part of democracy. This can be done in a simple straight forward manner for maximum impact but AAP leaders invariably fall on ignoble theatrics that reflect the mindset of possibly the dregs of the society. These are harsh words but then anyone who has followed AK and his colleagues over the last two years will agree that this is indeed the way they go about their job.
If an elected Chief Minister of an Indian state terms the state-centre relationship as an equivalent of Indo Pak relations or refers to the duly elected Prime Minister of the nation as a ‘Psychopath and Coward’, it is certainly a matter of concern for the nation. If the Chief Minister is engaged in a continuous war of words and mudslinging with the Lt Governor of his state, even on routine matters, then there is something drastically wrong with his way of working or understanding of how to administer the state. If a Chief Minister says that the Lt Governor is carrying out his duties with the motive of seeking Vice Presidential nomination from the central government, it just reflects the prejudices he carries in his mind. When a Chief Minister supports students who shout anti India slogans and sing paeans in praise of a terrorist convicted for attacking the Indian parliament, then all who voted him power must hang their heads in shame. If the Chief Minister of a state encourages divisive and vote bank politics by his actions then it is obvious the voters made a wrong choice. This wrong choice is not limited to the Chief Minister alone; it also reflects the mindset of his entire legislative team of 67 MLAs since not a single MLA has the courage to ask the Chief Minister to desist from his daily antics that only degrade the high constitutional office that he is occupying apart from bringing their party a bad name.
AAP government has reduced the power and water tariff for low end users by about 30% after it came to power. It is an open secret that they compensated the power distribution companies in an indirect manner from state funds to achieve this. In the run up to the elections, AAP had promised to rework the powers costs after due audit to arrive at the correct cost of production per unit rather than the inflated values charged by the distribution companies in connivance with regulating authorities. In actual practice AAP has just adopted the easier route of subsidising the power. Hoodwinking – yes that is exactly what AAP government has done in this regard. But then that seems to be the guiding principle of their working philosophy in most areas. This is reflected in all their dealings and the tall claims they make on a regular basis about the good work being done in the state of Delhi. The odd even scheme, about which AAP has made so much noise, was an exercise in futility from day one. It did not make any perceptible difference in the pollution levels in the city. Be it women safety, condition of roads, problem of water logging, dealing with the power distribution companies or cleaning of Delhi, AK and his government have achieved little or nothing on the ground. All the lofty promises of austerity and raising accountability levels sky high have been left on the way side once they came to power. Of late even their claims of honesty seem to be taking a major beating.
AK has shown a marked fixation to be recognised as an alternative to Mr Narendra Modi. While his aspirations can be lauded but in reality, based on his conduct and capabilities, it looks like a comparison between Raja Bhoj and Gangu Teli. For someone who was given a God sent opportunity to govern the easiest state in the country, he surely has made a mess of the same with his antics engulfed in negativity, self-righteousness and scepticism. But then AK, being an opportunist, has never been a dependable man. He left Anna Hazare in the midst of the Lok Pal campaign to seek greener pastures for himself. He sought support from Congress in his first term as Chief Minister of a coalition government. As soon as the going got tough, he whimpered and left the state of Delhi in a lurch by resigning in 49 days. Now that he has a huge mandate from the people, instead of using it to work for Delhi, his focus is on projecting himself at national level instead. What else can explain his over Rs. 500 Crore annual advertisement budget and the fact that his mug seems to be present on literally every poster that one sees in Delhi these days? AAP has to realise that in a democracy the government’s work has to speak for itself instead of squandering scarce public money on self praise.
AK’s penchant for fishing in troubled waters to extract political mileage both in Delhi and elsewhere is well known. His visit to Bisada in Ghaziabad on the cow meat controversy, extolling virtues of dubious characters like Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid (of JNU) engaged in anti national activities, blaming central government for Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad University, raking up 1984 Sikh riots, appeasing minority communities selectively by making ad hoc grants to families of deceased, prove beyond doubt that he is not averse to playing divisive or appeasement politics. Last few weeks have seen all his energies directed at campaigns in Punjab, Goa and Gujarat with a total absence from Delhi. If those states are his or his party’s priorities it is fine, but then why hold the charge of Delhi government and administer it on a part time basis? In all probability the state of Delhi must be paying the expenses for all such outings? Will it be wrong to say that he is using his current chair to further his and his party’s interests in other states?
His indifference towards the three main Municipal Corporations in the state of Delhi is well known. This stems primarily from the fact that all three are run by Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). AK forgets that just like his government in Delhi, the corporations too are run by elected representatives who have the mandate from people of Delhi. Instead of honouring the peoples’ mandate, AK and his government are constantly at war with them. Be it funds or other resources, there is always a bickering on such issues with a view to run down the BJP led corporations. The way AK refers to the corporations, it would seem as if the corporations were not part of the state of Delhi. The reality is that the state of Delhi is made up of five major regions which comprise of South, East and North Delhi Municipal Corporations, New Delhi Municipal Corporation and the Delhi Cantonment Board area. It is obvious that Delhi State Government has to govern Delhi through these entities that in turn are dependent on the Delhi Government. But AK and his government do not seem to understand this logic and invariably project Corporations as entities that are divorced from the state government. In fact AK hides his governance failures and the inability to deal with these corporations under this logic. It is no secret that AAP government spends hundreds of crores on useless advertisements while employees of corporations go without salaries for months. Is this AAP’s understanding of good governance?
AAP came to the fore with a promise of qualitative change for the better in Indian politics. However in actual practice they appear to have vitiated it further. One has often heard of terms like dirty politics, gutter politics, divisive politics, vote bank politics but AAP brand of politics is all this and more and perhaps the term that best describes their brand of politics is ‘faecal politics’.
AK is obsessed with self-righteousness to the extent that he cannot see beyond his nose or realise that there could be others too in the country who are honest and doing some good work. He has taken the concept of ‘blame game’ to another level altogether. His self-righteousness has reached a limit where his motives certainly do not appear to be selfless anymore. The words of David Brin, American science fiction writer, come to mind when one thinks of AK. He said ‘Self-righteous people can talk themselves into forgetting they are part of a civilization. They can then feed on that culture, bringing it down. It’s happened many times in the past. It could happen to us’. This is the danger that people like AK bring to the table and in the end it will be Delhi and its people who will suffer for his follies.