But Who Goes Back In Time, Anna Hazare Chides Ex-Protege Arvind Kejriwal

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But Who Goes Back In Time, Anna Hazare Chides Ex-Protege Arvind Kejriwal

Anna Hazare chided Arvind Kejriwal on his request for ballot papers in upcoming Delhi civic polls. (File)

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Arvind Kejriwal alleges tampering of voting machines in Punjab
  2. His party lost to Congress, Amarinder Singh takes oath tomorrow
  3. Ballot paper is safer option, says Mr Kejriwal, drawing much criticism
Unable to trump the Congress in Punjab, Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal today alleged that the Electronic Voting Machines or EVMs used in the state were rigged to ensure the defeat of his Aam Aadmi Party or AAP. Mr Kejriwal employed this argument to ask that next month's municipal election in Delhi be held old-school, with ballot papers.

"The world is progressing at a fast rate and here we are discussing going back in time to ballot papers," said Anna Hazare, 80-year-old activist and former mentor to Mr Kejriwal, joining a roster of people who have derided Mr Kejriwal's accusations as those of a sore loser.

Though several exit polls forecast a photo-finish for AAP and the Congress in Punjab, the result was nowhere near close. Of 117 seats, the Congress, led by Captain Amarinder Singh, won 77 seats. AAP, whose campaign starred Mr Kejriwal, won 22. The incumbent Akali-BJP alliance won 18 seats.

Mr Kejriwal alleged that '20-25 per cent' of his party's votes were transferred illicitly to the ruling coalition, splitting the anti-Congress vote and allowing Captain Singh to emerge victorious.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a union minister whose family runs the Akali Dal, diagnosed Mr Kejriwal with having "lost his mental balance" and prescribed "vipassana" or extended silent meditation for the Chief Minister.

Anna Hazare formed the appealing epicentre of the India Against Corruption movement organised by Mr Kejriwal in 2011.Together, they collected civil society groups, college students and others in a huge protest in Delhi, demanding urgent anti-corruption measures including the appointment of a national ombudsman or Lokayukta. Their appeal served as a lightning rod for a mass movement at a time when the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had been ousted for an assortment of large scams. But Anna and his protege; fell out over Mr Kejriwal's decision to set up a political party. Anna said he wanted to have nothing to do with politics. They parted ways and AAP was formed.

In 2013, Mr Kejriwal was elected Chief Minister of Delhi after AAP made a spectacular political debut. He resigned just 49 days later because his anti-corruption proposal was stalled in the legislature. He later apologised for his petulant move and sought public forgiveness in a series of interviews. In 2015, he was re-elected with AAP losing just three seats in Delhi. 

AAP was keen to use Punjab as a springboard for its national expansion plans ahead of the next general election in 2019, when its leaders envisaged it as a formidable opponent to the Congress and the BJP. For months, Mr Kejriwal traversed Punjab, accumulating criticism of playing hooky as Delhi Chief Minister. Thousands of NRIs flew down from Canada, Australia and other countries to join Mr Kejriwal's bid with door-to-door visits. 

Next month, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, currently held by the BJP, will pick its new legislators. The election will be seen as a litmus test of the Chief Minister's popularity half-way through his term, and as a test of his ability to withstand the Modi Wave which has resulted in humongous wins for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Mr Kejriwal serially accuses the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of undermining his authority in the capital, which is a Union Territory and not a state, with key departments like the police reporting not to Mr Kejriwal but the centre. Winning the Municipal Corporation would confer more control on him in running the capital.
 

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