We knew that between now and General Election, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would be taking us on a roller coaster ride. Because of two primary reasons: one, since they would be learning on the job, we could expect some missteps; two, at the same time they would be provoking the Congress to withdraw support with each calculated act. Between reasons one and two, there would be plenty of scope for grandstanding that has generally played out well for AAP on television and in the front pages, the oxygen that sustained it and made it grow. There was hope that whatever AAP would be able to achieve in its brief stint would be indelible as well as exemplary—see how quickly some other state governments have also rushed to slash electricity rates.
The Congress, having steadily lost credibility, has nothing much left to lose in Delhi state during the Lok Sabha polls. It is also supporting AAP for two primary reasons: one, it is hoping that each day AAP is in power, it will prove to voters that Kejriwal and his amorphous team are not going to get their act together; two, each day AAP hogs the headlines, it keeps Narendra Modi out of the television news and the headlines, which suits the Congress just fine. Which is why we have the rather enjoyable spectacle of political invectives flying three ways—between AAP and the Congress and vice versa, between the BJP and AAP and vice versa and the usual sledging that goes on between the Congress and BJP.
The pressure, therefore, on AAP is to perform consistently as a novelty act in strange and politically preposterous ways. Some of the politically incorrect slurs AAP has used have tarred it, especially the comment about nurses. But did it go too far last week when a gang of suspected AAP adherents barged into a house where African women were staying, charging them with prostitution and drug-peddling and searching their cupboards for “drugs”? There has been also talk about a woman forced to give urine sample in a public place. The women were reportedly heckled, abused, hit and asked to go back to their countries and generally were at the receiving end of some very racist behaviour. It is debatable if even the Sri Ram Sene has gone this far. One of the Africans has come forward and identified Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti as the leader of the AAP moral police squad. He is a lawyer and holds a Masters degree from IIT as well. The Delhi chief minister thought his minister was acting lawfully and took to the streets. For what? Among other things, seek transfer of policemen who refused to listen to the law minister who was acting unlawfully. As Lok Sabha member, will Kejriwal fix relations with Pakistan by holding a dharna outside the Pakistan High Commission?
To many it began to look as though a strange political circus had come to the capital. It is doubtful if Kejriwal came off smelling of roses from this one. To many it looks that not even a month into governance, the AAP has begun tilting at windmills, eschewing real work. If he persists and does not choose his battles wisely, Kejriwal will squander away his hard-earned goodwill and increasingly resemble a modern day Don Quixote charging around in a WagonR for a steed with an AAP cap and a broom for a lance.