Dear Arvind Kejriwal, Don’t Become What You Once Despised
In less than a month after the Delhi poll results, the myth called Arvind Kejriwal stands exposed.
Delhi voted for the Aam Aadmi Party and gave it an overwhelming majority. So, when Arvind Kejriwal took charge as the chief minister on 11 February, many had pinned high hopes on him. Some even said that Delhi’s voters had sent a clear message to BJP's top brass – ‘communal and divisive tactics won't always work.’
Armed with his development pitch and welfare schemes, Arvind Kejriwal looks like a messiah, especially at time when the Indian democracy is witnessing a rudderless Opposition. A politician who talks about building roads and schools and not religion and Pakistan, Kejriwal was the perfect alternative to BJP. However, in less than a month of results’ declaration, Kejriwal stands exposed.
Where Were Kejriwal & Co When Delhi Was Burning?
As Delhi witnessed one of the worst communal violence in decades, the chief minister and his party’s cadre were missing. This, barring a few appearances at Raj Ghat and the party’s decision to camp outside LG's house.
One might blame Delhi’s three-tier government system and argue that the AAP has no control over the law and order situation in the capital. Fair enough! But when Delhi was burning, Kejriwal and his ministers chose to pray at the Raj Ghat instead of visiting violence-hit localities and taking stock of the situation. What justification can be offered for the CM’s action or the lack thereof?
He met the Home Minister, called for Army to be brought in and later announced ex-gratia for victims' families. All of that did little to control the violence, and for me, Kejriwal will always be the chief minister under whose watch 46 innocent lives were lost, including that of a Delhi Police Head Constable and an IB officer.
Caught Snoozing or Was the Delay on Purpose?
Ideally, Kejriwal should have visited the violence-hit localities in the first two days to help calm tensions. Even his appeal to call in the army for relief came only on 26 February, three days after the violence first erupted.
The Delhi government itself was missing from the riot-hit 'mohallas' and only chose to wake up days later. According to a report by Scroll, of the nine relief camps, opened for those displaced by the violence, eight are night shelters lacking basic hygiene.
Except an announcement of a shelter being constructed at Mustafabad, which the government claims will be able to accommodate around 1000 people, all other shelters reportedly can't house more than 50 people.
Shaheen Bagh Silence and Hindu Assertion Weren't Just Poll Tactics
In the run-up to the election, Kejriwal's Hindu assertion and his strategic silence on Shaheen Bagh generated a great deal of debate. Political analysts called it a poll tactic to not upset the Modi voter who votes for Kejriwal at the state level.
Earlier, I had written about how Arvind Kejriwal’s Delhi campaign hinted at his national ambitions and with Prashant Kishore by his side, this didn’t look unreal. However, even in the face of the worst communal violence since 1984, Kejriwal didn’t give up on his populist and majoritarian stand.
He reposed his faith in Delhi Police despite multiple disturbing reports emerging from the ground and gave his nod to the opening of sedition case against Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, timing of which seems interesting.
From Aam Aadmi's Voice to a Helpless CM: Is Kejriwal Becoming What He Despised?
In 2013, Arvind Kejriwal, in his tweet, criticised the then chief minister, late Sheila Dikshit calling her a "helpless" chief minister which Delhi “didn’t deserve.” Today, Kejriwal, too, looks hapless as fear, panic and chaos engulfs Delhi.
It pains me to say that while he camped at the Raj Ghat, our chief minister failed to learn a lesson or two from the Mahatma himself. It is noteworthy that Gandhi, on the eve of India’s independence, was in Bengal’s Belaghat at Hyderi Manzil – now, called Gandhi Bhavan – trying to broker peace between Hindus and Muslims in one of the most communally sensitive areas of the time.
Once viewed as a dynamic newcomer in politics who didn't fear to take on the likes of Modi and Shah, this new, calculative Kejriwal has failed the voters and citizens of Delhi. The chief minister’s slumber has failed both, Hindus and Muslims in India's national capital.
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