At the heart of Kejriwal’s revival of politics of agitation is his political untouchability with respect to the Congress.
After more than a week of confrontation between Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and the IAS officers in the Delhi government, the crisis looks set to be resolved at the intervention of the Lieutenant Governor. But will this also be the end of the confrontational politics of Kejriwal-led AAP? It doesn’t look like that.
At the heart of Kejriwal’s revival of politics of agitation, which gave birth to the AAP in 2012, is his political untouchability with respect to the Congress, a party that is likely to be the glue that binds the opposition in 2019.
At the peak of Kejriwal’s recent sit-in at Raj Niwas, four chief ministers extended him support even as Congress president Rahul Gandhi attacked his dharna in a tweet.
Delhi CM, sitting in Dharna at LG office.
BJP sitting in Dharna at CM residence.
Delhi bureaucrats addressing press conferences.
PM turns a blind eye to the anarchy; rather nudges chaos & disorder.
People of Delhi are the victims, as this drama plays out.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 18, 2018
AAP’s overtures to Congress
In the last few months, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal upped the ante against the central government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, simultaneously, Kejriwal started buying peace with other parties, and wrote apology letters to several leaders, including Congress’ Kapil Sibal and his son Amit.
The timing of the apologies coincided with opposition parties holding talks on forming a possible grand alliance or mahagathbandhan to take on the BJP in 2019 elections. The AAP sensed an opportunity there and kept channels of communication open with its arch-rival in Delhi, the Congress, through its newly elected Rajya Sabha members.
Taking a step forward, Kejriwal did not hesitate to share stage with a host of opposition leaders, many of whom he has severely criticised in the past, during the swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru. Kejriwal’s awkwardness and stiff body language at the event was hard to miss.
However, all these overtures by the AAP and Arvind Kejriwal were rejected by the Congress. Left with no other option, the party was back to square one. And, it is now doing what it does best: politics of agitation.
Arvind Kejriwal has launched an all-out battle against Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP at the centre. But will it be enough to save the dwindling fortunes of India’s newest ruling party?
Stung by electoral defeats in Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Meghalaya and Nagaland, Kejriwal’s AAP is on the back foot.
On its home turf Delhi, the party lost the municipal polls to the incumbent BJP in 2017. To add salt to injury, the party’s vote share was reduced to almost half of what it secured in the 2015 assembly election.
In a scenario like this, the agitational politics of Arvind Kejriwal may not be enough for the AAP before the 2019 elections, but it is perhaps the only arrow left in Kejriwal’s quiver now.