The importance of Arvind Kejriwal
The prodigal son of Delhi, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal, has risen once again on the national capital’s gloomy horizon, after a year of suspended animation without a government in the region. Kejriwal-led AAP is leaving no stone unturned to reclaim Delhi, a fortress they had given up after just 49 days of staying in power as the elected government. In a bid to expand their footprint from the local to the national scale, AAP let go of Delhi, but not without bringing in definitive changes that were as pro-people as they were radical. Power and water bills were slashed, corruption helplines introduced, commuting was made easier for women by having autorickshaw drivers’ union at their side, attempts made to bring spiraling prices of vegetables and other goods under control. Above all, there was a palpable sense of democratic and demographic participation, involving citizens, who were urged to get involved and not just sit back and enjoy the grand spectacle of governance unfold. Kejriwal’s USP was touching base, and not flying high, and it was his grounded approach that made him a darling of the liberals and a section of the media, while riling the nerves of those in service of reckless neoliberalism. In an astounding display of bravura, Kejriwal as chief minister of Delhi managed to lodge an FIR against the biggest corporate player in the country, Mukesh Ambani, and his company Reliance India Limited, for messing with gas prices and incompetent oil drilling in KG-D6 basin.
Evidently, Delhi, without a government and with its MCDs under BJP rule, has been a bastion of crime, pollution and largely political shenanigans of national level. Even though the general elections routed the seven parliamentary seats to BJP, AAP came a formidable second in all seven, relegating the Congress to an impactless third in the strata. That AAP, fired up by Kejriwal and other stellar leaders like Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, among others, has become the space for left-of-centre politics, frequently sounding the significant oppositional note in a number of issues, of both local and national scale, is beyond a straw of doubt. It has not only not become a spent force, but has renewed ignition with Delhi Dialogue, which it started in late 2014, taking on the elaborate and powerful showmanship of Narendra Modi-led BJP in a number of platforms. So much so that Modi has been forced to reckon with the second coming of AAP, branding their politics as ‘anarchist’, saying that they should go side with the Maoists instead of fighting polls. It is obvious that Delhi needs a secular alternative to BJP’s overt religious and economic hardline, and it goes without saying that the national capital should give Kejriwal and his band of radicals a second chance at showcasing good governance.