Millennium Post

Comprehending Kejriwal

With the arrival of the AAP party chief Arvind Kejriwal in the national scene, after he quit his post as Delhi chief minister, the ensuing Lok Sabha elections seem to be interesting with one more player added to the confusing poll scene. The AAP is planning to contest more than 350 of the 542 seats.

Don’t think Kejrwal is acting impulsively. He has taken every step in the last few months after deep deliberation and has scripted each act with great care including his resignation as Delhi chief minister. The thought of giving up his post came to his mind the day he took over as the AAP chief was encouraged by the backing he received in the Delhi polls.  With a leadership vacuum at the national level the AAP decided that they should have a try at the all India level  and even bid for the post of prime minister in case of a hung Parliament.

The big question is can Kejriwal do a Delhi at the national level? Does he have the resources, ability, candidates and the other paraphernalia to fight the big parties like the Congress, the BJP besides the regional satraps who are strong in their fiefdom? The abrupt end to Kejriwal’s tenure as CM has illustrated the how difficult it is for independent, idealistic new parties when confronted with inexperience and the realities of Indian politics.

The fall of Kejriwal’s government showed the limited prospects for a powerful third party in India.  His methods may prove counterproductive, given that he achieved little during his brief stint as chief minister.

First of all the magnitude of the elections is mindboggling. Winning a small state like Delhi is one thing but replicating it in other parts of the country is a totally different thing.

There are regional satraps like  Mamata Banerjee( TMC), Mayawati (BSP), Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Naveen Patnaik (BJD), Jayalalitha (AIADMK) and Farooq Abdullah (NC). They all have their hold on their respective states and they succeed because people see them as an alternative to the established national parties. AAP is a new entrant in this category as the party won Delhi capturing the non – congress non – BJP space. Will the AAP be able to do so in a multi cornered contests in other states? The AAP victory could be a warning signal to the regional parties but they may have to change their poll strategy with the addition of AAP.

Secondly, had Kejriwal had proved his administrative capacity like Modi, Jayalalitha, Naveen Patnaik, Nitish Kumar and other chief ministers have done, then he has a case. Now he has resigned on a bill, which he wanted to introduce ignoring all the constitutional norms blaming the Congress and the BJP for a match fixing in brining down his government. Could he not have gone to court if he was not happy with the present situation?

Could he not have persuaded the other parties to agree to the bill? Could he not have discussed the provisions of the bill and be ready for reasonable amendments suggested by the opposition?  In a democracy consensus building is a difficult art and he should have mastered it before throwing up his hands. His failure to run the Delhi government will certainly be a black mark.  The middle class, who voted with great hope is certainly disappointed at his brief stint and feel he could have continued.

Thirdly, while corruption is a major issue, Kejriwal should shift the focus to other important issues like price rise and inflation, which affects the common man more than anything else. Unfortunately the Congress is concentrating on secular/ communal divide the BJP is focusing on the dynastic rule.
Fourthly, Kejriwal might become a red rag to the business community if he decides to go after them.

If he does not read carefully on already decided issues like the FDI his radical policies on some issue may alienate him from the business community. If he wants to become the ruler he should learn to find ways of peaceful coexistence. How would his party deal with the neighboring countries, with the US, with the European countries and what would be his USP in the conduct of foreign policy.  It has been a broadly consensus foreign policy followed by various government till now.

Fifthly, Modi has emerged as a big national player and he has had a head start. How will Kejriwal compete with him? Both leaders are loners and larger than the parties they represent.  Both are driving their campaigns through strong personality driven politics. As excellent communicators they have used the media to the full. Will the AAP pose a threat to the prime ministerial ambitions of Modi?

Some feel Kejriwal is a man in a hurry but he has decided to try his luck at the national politics. It all depends on whether his voters stick with him or leave him but he is certainly likely to damage Modi’s chances, which is what the Congress wants. The 120 million new voters hold the key to the success of Modi or Rahul Gandhi or Kejriwal.
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