Efforts to shame AAP will backfire
Barely 48 hours before elections are held in Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, the convener of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), was attacked in public and slapped by a man. Unfolding before blaring television cameras, the incident became the talk of the town as politics fell to a new nadir, with many of the political figureheads refusing to openly condemn the assault. Third in row and second in a week, the incident was reported at first as AAP’s attempt of generating some slAAPpstick comedy at their own expense and trying to hog national headlines on the eve of general elections. However, upon closer scrutiny, the orchestrated attempt to single out and malign Arvind Kejriwal, and indeed AAP leaders such as Yogendra Yadav, becomes more than evident. It is obvious that Lali Prasad, the hapless auto driver who actually came out and attacked Kejriwal, had done that at someone else’s behest. That the assault, which left Kejriwal with facial bruise and swollen left eye, was executed at the behest of those whom the AAP leader and former Delhi chief minister had visibly rattled in the 49-day government that resigned in February, is absolutely written all over the matter. Not only has the establishment discovered a punching bag in AAP candidates, particularly Kejriwal who has been roughed up a number of times now, it also imagines that these utterly despicable strategies of public shaming and humiliation will deter the intrepid campaigner from carrying out his crusade against corruption and crony capitalism, symbolised in the blatantly unjust gas price hike that became effective just before the national election kicked in. Not only does this show a brazen disregard for the democratic process, it also exposes how the political fraternity is hand in glove with those who do not want change in the system, whether administrative, civil or corporate.
Despite staying in power for only 49 days, Kejriwal-led AAP government managed to change the grammar of political governance by not only asking pointed and extremely inconvenient questions, but also challenging the basic entitlements that the bureaucracy and political firmament is used to. AAP cast spotlight on the issues of power and water bills, inflation and food price, tainted past of MLAs, MPs and prospective candidates, drawing attention to loopholes in much-hyped development models, communalism and caste politics, class struggle and tribal rights, environmental concerns and a number of others that have remained untouched by mainstream political parties. The calumny that the political and corporate detractors are trying engineer by manufacturing fake dissent against Kejriwal amongst his biggest votaries will not reap any demographic dividend. Not only will it connect Kejriwal more with his supporters, his principled opposition to accepting personal security will also be welcomed.