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Last Updated : Mar 14, 2019 08:26 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Opinion | Lok Sabha Polls: Is AAP not confident of facing the voter?

Rather than focusing on the merits of what his government has achieved, Kejriwal seems to be busy blaming the Congress and alleging political conspiracies.

Viju Cherian @VijuCherian

Viju Cherian

Anyone who has played gully cricket would agree that most of the time except for a few main players the others are added to the team on the fly. Despite this, there is that odd player who bickers and grumbles over team strength and strategy. If the team loses, the player would say, “I told you so!” and if the team wins, the player would say, “We could have done better.” They are the quintessential spoilsport.

The way the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal have conducted themselves over the past few weeks, especially over an alliance with the Congress in Delhi, reminds one of that odd player. Rather than focusing on the merits of what his government has achieved, Kejriwal seems to be busy blaming the Congress and alleging political conspiracies.

During the last week of February Kejriwal was of the view that an AAP-Congress alliance was essential to ensure that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi. This was surprising to many as in the past Kejriwal has not lost an opportunity to criticise the Congress and call it “corrupt”.

However, by the first week of this month it was clear that the Congress was not keen on an alliance with AAP; it looks like Sheila Dikshit is in no mood to forget the drubbing she received in 2015. Suddenly, with the agility that would put to shame Nadia Comăneci, the AAP did a cartwheel and went back to accusing the Congress of being arrogant and said that there were rumours of a “secret understanding” between the Congress and the BJP. The story of the fox and the grapes indeed.

Kejriwal’s initial statement that an AAP-Congress alliance was essential to defeat the BJP contradicts his later statements that AAP will win all the seven seats in Delhi even without the Congress. Logic demands that both statements cannot be true at the same time.

There are two interesting aspects to Kejriwal’s politics here. First, the whole talk about ‘we were ready, but the Congress failed us’ leaves an exit route post-results if AAP were to perform badly (or if the BJP were to win Delhi convincingly).

Surprisingly on Wednesday, March 13, Kejriwal proposed that AAP, the Congress and the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) have a three-way alliance in Haryana to defeat the BJP — and win all the 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state. It is not clear how the Congress will respond to it, but what is clear is Kejriwal has got a ready alibi if his party performs poorly in the upcoming general elections in Delhi and Haryana. It is a shrewd move, but it has to be seen if the electorate buys it.

The second aspect to Kejriwal’s politics is that these statements leaves the legroom for him to maintain his ‘holier than thou’ politics. Even when he talks about an alliance with the Congress he stresses that it is his ‘helplessness’ that is forcing him to ‘share stage’ with the Congress. The moral high horse on which AAP sits is the rhetoric of the ideas on which it came to power. Today it has adapted to the demands of politics and is not without stain.

That is why one feels that there is an element of opportunism in his belated demand for statehood for Delhi. In an emotional appeal on February 23, Kejriwal said that he intended to go on an indefinite fast for putting pressure on the Centre to grant Delhi full statehood. He said that it would be his “proud privilege to lay down my life fighting for Delhiites rights”. Thankfully, a few days later, he decided to postpone the protest. As for his threat of going on a hunger strike, unfortunately, hunger strike as a non-violent political means of protest has been used and abused by politicians from across the spectrum. It is unlikely to have the impact it used to have.

There is a lot which the AAP government has achieved in the past four years — especially in education and healthcare, but it appears that the party is not confident of approaching the people on these merits.

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First Published on Mar 14, 2019 08:26 am
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