Arvind Kejriwal is A Crisis At Best

Published: August 06, 2014 13:50 IST
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(Nalin S Kohli is spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Director of the party's Public Policy Research Centre. He is also a lawyer and has extensive experience in media and education.)

Arvind Kejriwal is a bundle of contradictions. Over the past year, he has changed his political stand often and with such ease that it amazes the discerning citizen. He appears to take a stand, and then literally weeks later, takes another that is diametrically opposite.

Last week, Mr Kejriwal held gatherings in the city seeking to enquire, rather self-righteously, as to why the BJP was "running away" from elections in Delhi. However, Mr Kejriwal deliberately ignored answering a fundamental question - why did he and his colleagues run away from government and governance in Delhi on February 14, after completing only 49 days in office with the Congress' support? And what of his own flip-flop on the issue? On the one hand, his party filed a petition in the Supreme Court demanding early elections in Delhi. On the other hand on May 19, once the national election results confirmed the rout of his national aspirations, he wrote a letter to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi requesting him NOT to dissolve the assembly! The BJP's Delhi President, on his part, is on record that the party is ready for elections whenever they are announced.

Mr Kejriwal appears to pursue the politics of disruption. Even a cursory scrutiny of past events points to a pattern that confirms this trait. First, there was the disruption of the Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement for the creation of a new political outfit. Then, high-decibel sensationalist press conferences disrupted the nature of media coverage and enabled an almost irrational amount of media focus on Mr Kejriwal and his colleagues, even though Delhi was not only the smallest, but also only one out of four states going to elections last year. Thereafter, profound allegations against the Congress party and its leadership were chucked in favour of coalition compulsions when Mr Kejriwal assumed office in Delhi.

Once again, disruption was the hallmark of the governance model that followed in the 49 days of Mr Kejriwal's tumultuous tenure. His famous janta durbar disrupted everything for everyone. Against all norms, his law minister Somnath Bharti demanded the presence of judges in his chamber. Mr Bharti followed this up with the now-infamous midnight vigilante raid on women of foreign nationality and in the process, caused much diplomatic embarrassment to the nation.

However, the icing on the cake was when Mr Kejriwal himself, as the incumbent Chief Minister of Delhi, decided to disrupt his own government and proceed to sit on dharna against police officers who chose to follow procedure and not succumb to Somnath Bharti's open threats. Mr Kejriwal openly admitted to being an anarchist and threatened to disrupt the Republic Day parade, a new low in political posturing. Ironically, the very police force against who Mr Kejriwal directed his ire, provided him security cover on cold January nights at his dharna site.

It appears to most that Mr Kejriwal likes to be at the centre-point of a crisis, more often than not of his own making. He seems to dislike normalcy and chooses to be in the midst of situations that ensure widespread media coverage. Media coverage is like oxygen for his political sustenance.

Every mainstream political party recognizes that the politics of allegations and anarchy cannot be a replacement for ideology and direction. Nor can the politics of garnering media space guarantee votes. Citizens want solutions and governance. They do not require a high-pitched reminder of problems they already are aware about. Often that creates a nuisance and nothing else.

Could that be the reason why Mr Kejriwal, as former Chief Minister of Delhi, hasn't been able to find a house on rent in the city? Any other person in Mr Kejriwal's place may have reflected more seriously on this issue.

So, while his colleagues may suggest that "A crisis brings out the best in Arvind Kejriwal", perhaps a re-arrangement of the words might better sum up his politics - "Arvind Kejriwal is a Crisis at Best".

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