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If war with Pakistan is the only way to win elections, who would you wager on to go for it regardless of its consequences for the country — between Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal?”

An eminent lawyer-activist put this question to a psephologist-turned-political activist on a winter evening in early 2015. They were part of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) then and were coming to terms with the realisation that Kejriwal was just another politician who was determined to go to any extent in his pursuit of power.

“If it has to be only one of the two, I guess, Kejriwal,” replied the psephologist after pondering for a while. He himself was surprised by this conclusion. “Then, what are we doing here (in the AAP)?” asked the lawyer. Kejriwal resolved their dilemma soon, expelling them from the party.

A lot of water has flown under the old Yamuna bridge since then. The two former AAP leaders may be thinking about the irony of that discussion in today’s context. But they must also be happy that they were spot on in their reading of Kejriwal, the biggest beneficiary of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement.

Also read: Arvind Kejriwal has anger issues, calls legislators ‘tuccha’ & ‘gadha’, says Alka Lamba

Look at what power can do to children of the revolution. The humble-looking income tax officer-turned-activist had become a rallying point for all the anti-Congress forces as he turned Anna Hazare’s fast-unto-death for the Jan Lokpal Bill into an anti-corruption, anti-Congress movement that caught the imagination of the country. That the Sangh was complicit in backing it was no secret nor was the BJP’s gloating over its success.

Eight years since the anti-corruption movement was launched, Kejriwal is desperately pitching for an alliance — this time with the Congress against Narendra Modi and his BJP.

Why an alliance with Congress?

On the face of it, Kejriwal’s move to ally with the Congress looks like smart politics. He has at least three reasons.

First, the two parties together could easily vanquish the BJP in the national capital that sends seven members to the Lok Sabha. The BJP clinched all seven seats in 2014 when the AAP and the Congress contested separately. Well-ensconced in Delhi where the erstwhile ruling party, the Congress, is still struggling to get its act together, the AAP considers Narendra Modi-led BJP its principal challenger here. An alliance with the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls could also help Delhi’s ruling party get back to winning ways after a series of setbacks in the past two years, including the Rajouri Garden bypoll and the municipal election losses.

Second, if the AAP manages to extend this alliance to Haryana or Punjab, it would give the party a fresh lease of life in Punjab where it is witnessing a massive slide and help it expand its footprints in the neighbouring state.

Third, an alliance with the Congress could give Kejriwal a place at the political high table in the event of a non-BJP coalition forming government post-polls. You can’t miss the pride and glee on Kejriwal’s face whenever he is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the top leaders of the country during shows of opposition strength. It does not matter any longer that he berated them for their alleged acts of omissions and commissions until recently. He always had national ambitions and they are soaring again.

A potentially suicidal act

It’s not uncommon in politics that the option that looks the easiest and the most gainful turns out to be the most treacherous. An alliance with the Congress would surely give a fillip to the AAP in the immediate future. But, it could also turn out to be a suicidal decision for the AAP in the long run.

Also read: Remember Arvind Kejriwal? Here’s how AAP lost the national plot

Kejriwal may believe that like many parties that had their genesis in anti-Congressism and yet shook hands with the Congress at some point in time, the AAP too wouldn’t suffer from this tactical shaking of hands with its bête noire. In this case, the Congress would be compelled to play second fiddle to the AAP in Delhi as it does in UP and Bihar for survival but projects it as a move aimed at defeating communal forces.

Or, Kejriwal may believe that the Congress’ decline in Delhi as in other parts of the country is so inexorable that it doesn’t matter in the long run.

Kejriwal may be hugely mistaken on both counts. And it’s not because the Congress under Rahul Gandhi is not prepared to play second fiddle any more.

It’s also not because the Congress is not showing any signs of rising from the ashes like a phoenix. It’s because Kejriwal is in a self-destruct mode and that has given the Congress the courage to risk shaking hands with him.

Kejriwal isn’t like the children of ‘Total Revolution’, such as Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar, who have had long and distinguished political careers. Jayaprakash Narayan’s movement brought leaders such as Lalu, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Nitish Kumar to the political forefront. But they could not have become what they became without the Mandal-Kamandal politics that destroyed the Congress party’s traditional vote bank in the Hindi heartland and beyond.

The Congress hasn’t suffered any such permanent ruptures in its vote bank in Delhi. The Anna Hazare movement did bring Kejriwal to the political forefront, but he has wasted the opportunity, all the time looking for excuses for his non-performance and driving out the best from the party with his vainglorious and supercilious attitude.

Tired of politicians whom they saw using caste, religion and money to grab power, the common man saw hope in an anti-corruption crusader who had quit the civil services to fight against the system. The same people now see him showcasing his ‘bania’ credentials in Delhi and Haryana, defending his tainted colleagues and rubbing shoulders with dyed-in-the-wool politicians. The man who became a leader by riding public sentiments for Anna’s Jan Lokpal Bill was hardly agitated over the Modi government not appointing a Lokpal until the judiciary intervened.

Also read: Arvind Kejriwal should know Bhagwant Mann quitting alcohol is not a sacrifice for Punjab

In January 2014, Kejriwal had released ‘India’s most corrupt’ list and exhorted party members to defeat those who figured on it. In the run-up to the 2019 election, Kejriwal was rushing to Sharad Pawar’s residence to seek his intervention for an alliance with Rahul Gandhi’s party. Pawar had figured on the 2014 list.

With Kejriwal already going back on everything he and his party stood for in public life, an alliance with the Congress is all that the AAP needs to formally declare the moral death of a party that once challenged the “system”. But would you shed tears for a party that believes people would vote for it on the issue of statehood for Delhi?

For ThePrint's smart analysis of how the rest of the media is doing its job, no holds barred, go to PluggedIn

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23 Comments Share Your Views


  1. The Print’s Shekhar Gupta atleast tries hard to project a veneer of objectivity. D.K.Singh their Political head on the other hand does not have the skill to do so. He repeatedly demonstrates his rabid prejudicial thinking. This article is laughable in its premises, logic and conclusions. India needs better impartial and analytical journalists with a better worldview, not political stormtroopers. Pathetic!

  2. If Kauravas and Pandavas could be on one side against the Gandharva, why not AAP and Congress together against BJP?

  3. If each of the parties mentioned have to survive, they need to fight elections separately it’s good to loose now than become irrelevant. One pole would be BJP, the other side if they join together, it would be AAmadmi that would collapse once and for all

  4. Saam daam dand bhed for full statehood so that they can makebtheir policies without any interventions by other.thats it.

    • Possible only if he wins enough to be able to bargain. Let’s wait and watch. He is dealing with Congress, not some small regional party to get his way.

  5. Here in Indian politics we don’t have choice to choose better over good,but bad over worse. I agree that Mr Kejriwal had fought election against Mr Modi from Varanasi, but he had also fought election in 2013 and 2015 against Congress and made them to Zero. But here in 2019 , It is very very necessary to come to defeat BJP and its allies cause, they are even ready to change the constitution and many more things.

  6. It is not for nothing that Kerjiwal got into IIT. He is has brains and is extremely cunning. With his Punjab unit in disarray, he knows that all that he has, is Delhi. If he loses that too, he knows that the game is over. Hence his desparate overtures to Congress; a party that he has repeatedly accused of corruption. He is just trying to survive for now.

    • Rightly stated but one doesn’t have to be from IIT to play that mediocre politics. There are thousands of middle level managers in large private and public sector organisations who play that kind of ‘survival’ politics. It takes much more to be a leader who can be counted as a great. Arvind Kejriwal wanted people to believe that he has the potential of being a great leader, and in the end came out as a whining loser. The guy is nothing but a manipulative non-performer (finger pointing…Modi doesn’t let me work, CRY CRY…Rahul Gandhi does collaborate, CRY, CRY). His (lack of) bargaining power will be exposed very soon. Tell UK’s Financial Times to interview Arvind Kejriwal now and see the result.

      • RR, may I ask you a few questions please? How does one deal with a bunch of self-serving, unthinking, uncaring, insensitive, just about literate or well educated but behaving like illiterate politicians for whom the rules don’t mean anything, morality means nothing and the society means nothing? We are dealing with BJP/RSS gangs who either kill or threaten to kill or abuse anyone who has a different view. Does IIT education prepare us for dealing with such people? Do we want our children to learn from such people, do we want them to grow up and live in such environment where the political leadership keeps quiet or quietly encourages mob lynching? Today it is the other, tomorrow it can be anyone – including anyone of us, it is not? On non-performance, let me give you some evidence from what I know – higher education spend is being cut, staff salaries are not being paid, research grants are being cut, babus and netas will tell us what research should be done – that is BJP. At the same time, look at Delhi what the government is investing in school education. I am not even talking about hiding of data or manipulating of data to present that the government has done a great job. You must have seen Mr Chari’s article on how it is a smart strategy to not discuss employment, challenge the country. What does it tell us about the concerns of these self-proclaimed nationalists?

        Disclosure: I am not an AAP or Congress person and at the same time I don’t like being abused for holding a different view. I am much a Hindu as anyone else in our country, but I choose not to abuse others for what they eat, what they wear or how they look or what they do. I believe that a politician – particularly the ones who are obsessed with themselves – evidence in form of the money that has been spent in promoting one man – in a parliamentary democracy – has not business to tell how we should live our lives.

        • You need not disclose that you are not AAP or Congi, your write-up itself making it clear that you are only AAP supporter.

          • Let us assume that you don’t believe what I am saying, let us argue based on what my premises are. If yours are different from mine, please do state them. Stop labeling people, we have enough thugs who are just doing that. And these are the thugs who want to set one rule for themselves and their cronies and others for the rest who don’t share their world view and the premises. Rest of us don’t have to become like them. If that is the choice you would like to exercise, I am fine, Sir. May I also mention that it is very unlikely that you have the ability to read my mind? You can at best read my words or what you think the words are saying. Let us work with these premises.

  7. I am always amused with the New India’s senior journalists. They seem to have sold, not only pen their pen and brain, but also their soul. If Kejriwal does politics it is a disgrace but if the Modis and Shahs of this world play politics it is a master stroke of genius. One look at the North East and Goa tells you what the standards of our politics are. Once a corrupt man joins BJP, he becomes honest and the journalists shut their mouth. Else the whole country is corrupt. The same journalists don’t ask where is the morality in getting electoral bonds, where is the morality in having two deputy CMs in a tiny state and sacking one of them in less than a month, where is the morality when the CM is sworn in at 2AM? We have had speakers and governors playing politics and no one writing about that. We have a CM who did not have a cabinet for nearly 2 months. Where is the morality then?

  8. Who is the journalist? It’s apparent that he is bothered more of BJP, ‘s impending defeat in Delhi than a serious analysis.

  9. Apropos to Joji Cherian’s comments above and the article, no doubt that AAP is the offshoot of Khongress…. Who started politics with BJP…. When Khujliwal started his movement, it was Khongress at the helm of the affairs at Centre then why he fight elections against Modi…. Why Khujliwal didn’t fought elections against Sonia, Rahul, Sibal, Chidambaram, Kamal Nath etc. who were named by himself as most corrupt…. Only Khujliwal started politics against BJP when nobody was sure of BJP’s full majority….. Now it’s Khujliwal’s Karma that have come to haunt him…… Khujliwal is also fighting for power like others…. There’s no difference between Khujliwal and AyaRams and GyaRams of Indian politics….. Don’t think he is a saint….. He has proved himself a third degree politician only begging for alliance….

  10. As I know how BJP is treting a elacted government in Delhi. They din’t allow Aap to Govern. The power which enjoyed by previous Delhi Elected governments are scrapped by this BJP govt to take revange on Aap. I think This is the reason why AK want to join Maha Gadbandhan to defeet modi’s BJP at any cost.

  11. Once Moral is lost everything is lost. There is no coming back. If you win 67 seats out of 70 and yet you want an alliance with Congress, what message does it send. You have lost ground to such an extent, that coming back to power in Delhi is a big NO. I am sad with this fall of AAP. My hope was AAP will spread to other states. And that hope stands shattered.

  12. After reading few paragraphs stope dreading this article.the arm chair jounalists and columnists can churn out any thing from the AC rooms where they are ensconsed . Just in this case. Agreed Kejriwall lead his crusade against Congress. Does it mean that he should still hold on to that anti Congressism when a bigger danger is staring at in the from of BJP. it is just like demanding that Lalu Prasad and erstwhile Lohyates should not go with Congress. For some one who sees BJP as a threat to the Rpublic Kerjiwall is doing a greate service to the nation by this move

    • What if Congress comes to power with full majority in Delhi and Centre? What if they treat APP government (if it wins Delhi on its own) with same disdain? Do you think politics (especially in India) can take place without give-and-take? So what and how will Kejriwal compromise? Any answer?

  13. Great analysis. There are three kinds of voters: (1) die-hard supporters (irrational); (2) filled with hope, with decisions based on evaluation of performance; and (3) completely anti (again irrational). Assuming that most of Delhi’s middle income, well educated falls in second group, Kejriwal’s AAP will not get another chance to form the government on its own. Who will take the blame for this? Going by the behaviour of Kejriwal’s coterie, surely some will shield him and others may switch. And with Rahul Gandhi’s and his seasoned, experienced, well-entrenched elite inner group, Kejriwal can never have the bargaining power that he hope for. It is important to note that is Kejriwal who is running to Naidu, Pawar etc and not really the other way round. In politics, as in many other spheres of life, there is a level of respect that you need to command to be able to counted as an equal. Unfortunately Kejriwal is fast slipping on that respect ladder…downwards.

  14. I am just a layman but this article is biased. The author ignores the torment perpetrated by Modi government upon AAP government in Delhi through its appointed LG.It glosses over fake FIRs on almost 40℅ of people elected legislatures. It ignores court quashing those FIRs in 80℅ cases.It Also ignores court order that went in favor of LG’s handiwork. So what is the harm in Kejriwal trying to fight off Modi Government even that means alliance. He has done nothing unconstitutional.

  15. Why only Pawar? Kejriwal also NAMED Sonia herself and Rahul Gandhi, in his long list of corrupt persons, threatened and vowed to “EXPOSE” them, daily waving sheafs of papers before an extremely shortsighted and obliging media, particularly TV media. ( No one, not even the media which should have demanded it, ever got to find out what REALLY was in those papers he flourished). But he succeeded beyond his expectations in fooling millions, especially the misguided and deluded Delhi voters.

  16. It is brave to write off Kejriwal as he has shown once in 2015 by winning Delhi elections so sweepingly. I do feel that many columnists tend to dismiss AAP govt performance in Delhi which is rather unfair. No govt can fulfill all the promises made before elections. But there are some positives to AAP govt’s account and a large number of common people have hot the benefit. And ultimately, in electoral politics, that is what matters, not who all left the party. And not to forget, those who left would very likely have done so for personal ambitions and ego issues. That is irrelevant for people at large. It is only for analysts and armchair critics.

  17. I happened to meet Kejriwal in 2006. I was attending an RTI Act question answer session where the Chief guest was the then CIC Wahabuddin. Kejriwal was at the door ushering in attendees
    . He had a side bag hanging from the shoulders and was wearing a heavily crumpled kurta and had a dishevelled appearance. Except for ushering in the attendees he had no role in the proceedings. Mr. Yadav was the moderator on the podium with CIC. Over the years his demeanor has changed. After resigning as CM Delhi in his first stint, he went around the country demanding reception akin to that of a royal Prince. It was easy to see the megalomaniac in him. After his election and victory of AAP in Delhi polls his ambitions has soared sky high. Doing nothing other than abusing every one of corruption, he switched to subsidy strategy to retain his popularity. His strategy giving diminishing returns , he is seeking support of the same very objects and victims of his tirade .He is now on a slippery slope and soon will find his own destruction.


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