Wednesday, February 8, 2023
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Why Arvind Kejriwal is not Sheila Dikshit and Narendra Modi is not Vajpayee

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The capital transformed under a Congress government in Delhi and an NDA government at the centre. But, Kejriwal is not Sheila Dikshit and Modi is not Vajpayee.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has got his politics wrong. Not because babus in the Delhi government are paragons of virtue. Not because Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal listens to His Master’s Voice any less than his predecessor. And, also not because the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader is holding the sit-in in the air-conditioned waiting room of the Raj Niwas, and not on the scorching pavements outside, as he would have done in his activist days to make a spectacle that would have beholden the common man.

There are at least five reasons that make his latest tactic self-defeating. First, people want a leader who leads them and not someone who comes back to them every now and then, whining about the injustice – whether real or perceived – being meted out to him/her. Remember Narendra Modi’s USP or unique selling point in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections: a strong man with a ‘56-inch chest’ and the panacea for everything afflicting the nation, then under a “weak” prime minister Manmohan Singh. People give their mandate to govern. It’s not their responsibility to teach their chief minister how to deal with political adversaries or a supposedly hostile bureaucracy.

Second, the timing of the CM’s dharna is an affront to the people. At a time when people are being shot at and beaten to death (in Sangam Vihar and Wazirpur) over water in the national capital, a sit-in by the chief minister, his deputy and two other ministers, essentially over powers and jurisdiction, can be anything but sensitive. Air pollution in Delhi has reached a hazardous level, and the CM simply brushes it off, laying the blame on two secretaries who skipped the state environment minister’s meeting to discuss the issue. Is the ruling party of Delhi living up to its name or is it just a misnomer?

Third, the politics behind Kejriwal’s dharna is quite obvious: to cushion the AAP against public backlash for its failures in governance, and to gain relevance in the anti-BJP federal front. The visit of four chief ministers – Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal, Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh, Pinarayi Vijayan of Kerala and H.D. Kumaraswamy of Karnataka – to Kejriwal’s residence Saturday to meet his wife Sunita and convey their solidarity with him underscored the obvious. The Congress has been critical of Kejriwal’s sit-in, and the expression of support by these four opposition CMs exposed the fault lines in the mahagathbandhan-in-the-making. But that’s a different story.

Kejriwal is a believer of chitt bhi meri, patt bhi meri (heads I win, tails you lose) tactic. How else could one explain his remarks in an interview to the Hindustan Times Sunday? “Even our opponents believe the AAP government has done a wonderful job, especially in the fields of health, education, power and water. People across the country have started asking that if the AAP government has delivered so much in three years, why can’t the other state governments, where the BJP is in power,…follow suit?” he said. Well, if Kejriwal could achieve so much, as he claims, despite the bureaucracy, why could he not continue his good work now? And, if the bureaucracy was with the civil servant-turned-activist-turned-politician earlier and suddenly turned against him – whoever be the agent provocateur – the fault must be laid at Kejriwal’s door too. The pitfall with such tactic is you assume people are naïve and stupid. But you do it at your own peril.

Fourth, a section of Kejriwal’s supporters see in his dharna a sign of his preparation to launch another movement like the ‘India against Corruption’ of 2011-12 ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but the timing may not be right for this. Corruption charges against Prime Minister Narendra Modi or the NDA government have failed to stick. Ask Congress president Rahul Gandhi about his promised earthquake. Besides, such a movement by opposition leaders, most of whom are facing corruption charges, is likely to be a non-starter.

Fifth, Delhiites elected a chief minister to translate activism into governance, and not governance into activism. Kejriwal’s allegations against the NDA government’s interference in Delhi affairs may have some merit, but it can’t be a justification for non-performance. His predecessor, Sheila Dikshit, has criticised his dharna, calling it an “excuse to not work”. She was the chief minister of Delhi for 15 years, the first six of which coincided with Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure as the prime minister. During that period, development projects such as the Delhi Metro and mandatory plying of CNG buses got rolling.

Ask someone who was in Delhi in the 1980s and 1990s. The thought of people hanging out of overcrowded buses on congested roads still brings shivers. The foundation of Delhi’s transformation was laid when there was a Congress government in Delhi and an NDA government at the centre. But, of course, Kejriwal is not Sheila Dikshit and Modi is not Vajpayee.


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  1. This is a shitty article. Unnecessarily they have inserted Modi in the penultimate line, just to defame him along with Kejriwal.

  2. What a brainless article. I can counter each line with 10 counter arguments but no need to spend time on such trash. Theprint and shekhar gupta losing credibility very fast.

  3. As an old – also Old – Dilliwala, one prays for a swift and graceful resolution to this wholly unnecessary standoff. Delhi is the national capital, the face India shows to the world, where foreign heads of state and government visit. Any improvements, of the sort Smt Sheila Dixit – who like Ajay Maken is playing a very unhelpful role in this controversy – wrought over three terms does credit to the national government, no less than to the state administration. What Delhiites see at the height of summer, when demand for power peaks, water is a problem, the city is smothered in dust, is a Saas – Bahu serial playing out. There will be no applause for either side. A mandarin of the seasoning of LG must have handled far more sensitive issues in his career. It need not have come to this. Four CMs being denied entry to Raj Nivas, IAS officers holding a press conference, not possible in Lucknow or Jaipur.

  4. Your article reeks of bias. As a journalist at least be honest to your profession and do the basic research right. When Kejriwal tried to take action against corrupt babus and ex-ministers, Anti Corruption Bureau was taken over by the central government, when he took action against IAS officers who were slowing down the movement of file, the officers too were brought under central gov’s control. Try not attending meetings called by your editor and you will know what I mean. Unless you have the business owner’s blessings, I bet the next day you will be shown the door. Delhi’s people elected their government, we pay our taxes, the CM is answerable to us. Then who the hell is LG or IAS officers to decide what is good for us?

  5. So many words on Arvind Kejriwal – a loser whose only tactic is to divert attention from his failings. Kejriwal is the kind of sleazy politician that any state in India should avoid electing. Compared to Kejriwal, Sheila Dixit was million times more competent compared, and Modi, a million times more astute. In simple words, Kejriwal is a half-marathon runner who can never achieve big. Soon it will be bye bye Kejriwal in Delhi.

  6. Dear Mr D K Singh, I’m sorry to comment that none of your arguments have any logic. You are not aware of how the power structure is modified by the PMO and how it’s getting implemented. Here is a first time political party which won 67 out of 70 seats which fulfilled the 3 most important objectives of their political agenda within a few months. Had the PMO anticipated this, they’d have placed obstacles from day one. The PMO is putting obstructions whenever they find any loophole. The case of the state of Delhi is really bad; but the PMO is making it really horrible.

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