The mass leader who is squandering his mandate

Democracy is the axis between balance and betrayal. By some arcane algorithm, it often throws up an alternative to a brute majority.

Published: 03rd March 2018 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd March 2018 07:17 PM   |  A+A-

Democracy is the axis between balance and betrayal. By some arcane algorithm, it often throws up an alternative to a brute majority. The tragedy of massive mandates is they are squandered too often. Poll fever is climbing and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal does not even look as if he is ready to seek a return ticket. As his party and government unspool steadily, the assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash last week and the ongoing commotion revealed how deep is the rot within AAP.

Arvind Kejriwal

Who would have thought the man who made history by bucking the trend could become history soon? When the implacable Modi Wave was sweeping through most of India in 2014, Kejriwal’s stunning victory in Delhi and Punjab was seen as a check to the BJP’s unstoppable velocity. Ironically, Kejriwal owes his hero status to the Congress party and the rampant corruption of the UPA years; but it was Modi’s charisma which he defeated in Delhi. Optimists even titled Kejriwal the only alternative to Modi.
The picture was rosy for AAP. It was convinced that it would sweep the Goa and Punjab Assembly polls a few years later. The middle class believed AK was the new secular herald of political Utopia. The poor saw in him a champion and for the rich he was a hobby. Even the media loved him.

So where did it all go so horribly wrong?
Kejriwal is the most successful victim in Indian politics. He positioned himself as a commoner, victimised by the corrupt and the powerful. The middle class saw in him the non-politician they desired—a Solomon of the slums, a King Arthur of urban Camelot—a Prester John of New India. He even became the darling of the debilitated Opposition. The men around him were apolitical with spotless reputations, and AAP became a neo-Socialist Archimedean displacer of the shape of water of the Congress and the Left. It lassoed in their former vote banks that comprised minorities, the middle class, farmers and blue collar workers to join the Kejriwal movement; for that was what it was then—a movement that stoked the dreams of millions of Indians.

Then came the betrayal.
The clean faces left or were driven out. Old friends became enemies. Loyalists were disillusioned. Ministers were shamed by sex scandals and graft allegations. Bureaucrats refused to work. Many AAP heavies were arrested or jailed. Rajya Sabha seats smelt of donations. An MP was caught drunk in Parliament. India’s first 21st century agitationist Kejriwal soon retreated into a shell. Gone was the euphoria and mass connect—the folk leader who sang Hindi film songs, much like a period actor in a black and white movie was no more the assimilator; instead he led a morally diminished outfit where the dregs called the shots, and threaten officials with beatings.

The fact Kejriwal missed was that Mandate 2014 was not anti-Congress or anti-BJP. It was a pro-AAP vote. The confrontationist failed to make the transition to a leader with credible solutions. He whined, cribbed and blamed. People did not vote for a victim. They voted for a saviour. When the saviour was unmasked as a rhetoric obsessed, paranoid politicopath, the let-down they felt was overwhelming.
Yet another politician had fooled them—a Judas to their hope and optimism. History has shown that the people leave no room for misunderstanding in polling booths. The saviour thus becomes his own victim.

Stay up to date on all the latest Voices news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp