If there was one proposition of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal, which was rejected lock, stock and barrel, it his claim that his party was ‘kattarimandar’ which swhen translated into English would be rabidly honest.Though there is no grammatical error in somebody being rabidly honest but language usage wise it’s like an oxymoron.
Staying on language use, ‘kattar’ or rabid have negative connotation. The better phrasing could have been fervently honest or in Hindi ‘drinimandar’. Anyway, the whole idea of the use was to shock or awe the voter with the claim especially in the face of the corruption charges faced by its senior leaders.
This attempt to repair the dent in AAP’s image of being an impeccably honest party has come a cropper. Its senior leaders, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who is facing corruption charges in the liquor scam, Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot, who is in dock in a case of alleged swindling in purchase of buses, and jail minister Satyendra Jain, who ironically is incarcerated in money laundering case, were snubbed by the voters in their constituencies.
Now their prominent face, Swati Maliwal, chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) is under cloud. A trial court has framed charges against Maliwal for abusing her official position in illegally appointing various acquaintances, including AAP workers, in DCW between August 2015 and August 2016. “Prima facie (it) indicates that most of the appointments were given to the near and dear ones of the
accused persons/the AAP,” the court observed.
The news came just two days after the drubbing AAP received in the assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and much below expectation performance in Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls. Maliwal’s reaction too has been as insolent as her other colleagues saying that “those who work honestly have to prove their honesty and thieves enjoy in the country. Handled lakhs of cases, saved hundreds of girls from trafficking, got liquor-drug mafia arrested, stood with the poor. This is my only crime. As long as I am alive, I will keep fighting.”
The AAP leaders would have realized by now that merely playing the victim card in the face of serious charges of corruption was not helping them electorally and it would least browbeat the law enforcing agencies. The major loss of vote share for the AAP in Delhi from the assembly polls held just about two-and-half years ago despite the party leaders going hammer and tongs against the ‘vindictive actions’ taken by Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena did not help the matter much.
The DNA structure of the AAP has undergone a metamorphosis. A party born out of anti-corruption agitation is today fast becoming synonymous with the political traits it once opposed, the latest being horse trading. While it expressed apprehensions about the BJP poaching on its councilors, it was AAP which went on the hunt pilfering two councilors from the Congress team.
With Civic Centre under its tutelage now, the AAP, which also occupies Delhi Secretariat, cannot play the victim card any further to matters of governing Delhi. Delhi needs a chief minister ‘in office’, which Arvind Kejriwal has not been. His attendance at the Chief Minister’s office in Delhi Secretariat has been minimal leaving governance to his ministerial colleagues. While one minister is already in prison, who knows, others may follow him. In such a situation, it was best for Arvind Kejriwal to refocus on governing Delhi rather than give vent to misplaced national ambitions. A course correction would help rebuild party’s image and arrest the rapid fall in its credibility.
Author and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice