There is something unstable in Kejriwal’s persona that makes him behave in the way he mostly does. He has that penchant for ‘self-destruct’ and, in the process, he betrays the faith reposed in him by hundreds and thousands of common, educated and well-meaning people as also civil society organizations. One wonders whether he has that inscrutable split personality like that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as it seems there has been a sea change in his personality and conduct since the days of the movement appropriately known as India Against Corruption (IAC).
A man who joined the modern-day Gandhian Anna Hazare in 2011 to campaign for enactment of an anti-corruption law instituting an office of Lokpal (ombudsman) has moved on incredibly fast, so much that he has now taken recourse to political sleight of hand, sought help from goons or more precisely “bouncers” and tried to garner support from corrupt politicians just to gain power – all examples of political corruption. This was not what he created his Aam Admi Party (AAP) for. In 2011 means ostensibly were important to him to get to the end that was combating corruption but in 2014 & 2015 they ceased to be so. A man who campaigned for days in not too distant past against corrupt in the government has himself become as corrupt with the sole aim of grabbing power. His is a personality that effectively masked the sinister and the devious that lurked within him that even Anna could not detect, much less his supporters.
If one harks back to Anna’s movement in 2011 and recalls the massive civil society support that it elicited one would be frustrated by its eventual denouement. The IAC campaigns of April and August 2011 had a singular aim, that of eradication of corruption in the government through the instrumentality of a law for creation of an independent and powerful Lokpal. In the backdrop of massive corruption in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and allotment of 2G spectrum, it caught the imagination of the people, especially of the youth and the rising numbers of middle classes. As the movement gathered strength in August 2011 the media, too, got into the act and gave extensive round-the-clock coverage. And, the tech-savvy members of the IAC made deft use of the social media making the movement somewhat akin to the then ongoing campaigns in North Africa and West Asia for regime-change, eventually coming to be known collectively as “Arab Spring”.
The government at the Centre got flustered and indulged in nervous acts. Having been outmanoeuvred, parliamentarians quickly rustled up a “sense of the house” resolution unanimously passed by its both houses agreeing to action on all sticking points to pacify Anna. Acquiring a larger than life image, Anna broke his 11-day fast. Standing as a colossus, he and the IAC activists mobilised public opinion charging up the whole nation against political and bureaucratic corruption. A patently middle class movement, IAC’s offshoots cropped up virtually in every nook and corner of the country. Young and old joined it putting the government on the back foot. A bill for creation of Lokpal (ombudsman) that was said to be in cold storage for forty years amply displaying aversion of politicians to curb corruption in public life was expected to see the light of the day.
But that was not to be. Even in 2015 the bill continues to be in the cold storage, for soon after came Kejriwal’s first betrayal of Anna’s movement that brought the government to its knees. Reasons were many including Anna’s failing health and an unwise and ineffective sit-in in Mumbai later that year that was largely ignored by people. What sounded the death knell of IAC was Kejriwal’s uncalled for untimely 9-day fast in July 2012 that gained nothing except ill-health for him and a decision to move away from the politically unaligned agitational approach of Anna. That is when he decided to give up the movement and politicise it by creating AAP (Common Man’s Party), disappointing thousands of the IAC supporters, workers and volunteers who had made enormous sacrifices for the success of the movement. All of them felt terribly let down and betrayed as it proved to be curtains for an unprecedented civil society upheaval like of which was never seen in the country before. It was Anna’s persona and his perceived uncompromisingly honest attitude and those of his close supporters that brought people in droves to join the movement. Splitting the IAC was Kejriwal’s first insidious act.
The political outfit that he created met with unexpected success in the Delhi state Assembly elections of 2013. In the 70-member assembly AAP got as many as 28 seats with the Hindu right Bharatiya Janata Party getting 31. The Indian National Congress that had an unbroken rule of 15 years was reduced to 8 seats. Nonetheless, it was a hung assembly – where the party with largest number of seats refused to form the government, leaving the field open for AAP to run it with outside unsolicited support offered by Congress. Ironically, AAP accepted support of the same party against which it had campaigned for corruption. Fully aware that he had no majority in the house, Kejriwal wanted to introduce an anti-corruption law which expectedly the Opposition did not allow. Kejriwal promptly resigned after ruling for only 49 days fetching the sobriquet “bhagora” (quitter). In view of his earlier threats of resignation, perhaps, this was only a ploy to get out of a hung situation or, maybe, he was aiming to become prime minister as the Parliamentary elections were in the offing, the response of voters having buoyed his hopes.
What has happened in his second avatar is, of course, far more serious and reprehensible. Having been decimated in the parliamentary polls Kejriwal was reported to be frustrated and felt that his Party faced an existential crisis. Unless it did well in the then oncoming Delhi elections, he thought, AAP would have no future. That is when he gave up all his put-on idealism or pretences thereof, bringing to fore his undemocratic, ambitious and authoritarian traits, Late last year many well-known stalwarts including Sahzia Ilmi, one-time face of AAP, left the party feeling suffocated.
Later his unethical ways were made public when an audio clip of a sting operation on him was released indicating that he was prepared to accept support of proven corrupt Congressmen. Then, after an extraordinary electoral win with not-so-clean means, his feud with the ideologues – legal activist Prashant Bhushan and intellectual-cum-psephologist Yogendra Yadav, both straight players, - made headlines. The stunning electoral win seemingly had got to his head. Not only they were abused in the sting, they were undemocratically expelled from the Party’s Executive Council and have now also been unceremoniously expelled from the party in a high-handed manner. Anybody opposed to his inner party moves is considered undesirable and is promptly axed. Obviously, his true self has taken over and he is now strutting around AAP as a “Hitler” with lies, subterfuge and the like for props. “Clean” and “new” politics has been given a summary burial.
A setback to his ambitions at the parliamentary polls brought the true Kejriwal to the fore revealing a political fiend – self-serving and aggrandizing.
Photo: from the Internet