Kejriwal epitomises amoral nature of India’s politics

Politics in the country is far removed from the concerns of the common man. He languishes and is often manipulated to vote for change.

Published: 28th February 2022 01:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th February 2022 08:28 AM   |  A+A-

Illustration: Sourav Roy

In the run-up to the Punjab election, we have seen different shades of politics being played out. An ex-chief minister, just before the end of his second term, gave up his longstanding affiliation with the Congress and joined hands with the BJP—a turnaround he justified on the basis of scant respect and humiliation at the hands of the Congress leadership. Without analysing whether or not Amarinder Singh was justified in doing so, one is amazed at the flexibility with which political affiliations can be changed and ideological positions thrown into the dustbin. This shows that today’s politics has become an enterprise where ideology has no role to play.

The Congress responded to Amarinder by choosing Charanjit Singh Channi as chief minister, perhaps on caste considerations, hoping to resurrect the party from the shock of an established leader leaving it. The BJP welcomed Amarinder’s gesture when he reached out to it after his resignation from the Congress. It was apparent that the BJP would fund the alliance with Amarinder and contest a larger number of seats in Punjab, something that it could never have negotiated had the alliance with the Akalis not fallen apart. The Akali Dal, having held the reins of power on many occasions, never allowed the BJP the space to be a significant player in Punjab. With the Akalis withdrawing from the alliance with the BJP, this was an opportunity for the latter to extend its base in the state. The Akalis on the other hand, with significant presence in Punjab, in alliance with the BSP, are hoping to cash in on the Scheduled Caste votes. Last of all, Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP has the advantage of being an untested player in the fray without any baggage. 

This shifting of alliances, sans ideology, is the bane of Indian politics. We have seen this being played out in other parts of the country as well. 

The amoral nature of politics in India is best reflected in the antics of Arvind Kejriwal. He offers to the people of Punjab an honest government claiming that he is not power hungry and that he has sworn to end corruption in the state. The same Kejriwal was at the forefront of the “India Against Corruption Movement” from August 2011 till August 2012, building a political base on the shoulders of Anna Hazare. He proclaimed that his was a movement to cleanse the politics of corruption, which he termed “people’s politics”.

Kejriwal at that time had said, “I will never fight elections in my life and I do not want to hold any post in my life. I have no political ambitions.” Yet on 3 August 2012, riding on popular support, he announced the formation of a political party. In November 2012, he formed the AAP, contested the Delhi Assembly elections in December 2013 and became the chief minister. This reflects the true measure of the man and the nature of his politics. He catapulted himself into national politics by contesting the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi against the current prime minister. Having lost, he again contested the Delhi Assembly elections in February 2015 and became chief minister for the second consecutive term.

He delivered yet another gem when he said, “If Anna will sever ties with our political party, I will also do the same.” While Anna Hazare severed ties and asked Kejriwal not to use his name or photograph while campaigning for the 2013 Delhi Assembly elections, Kejriwal didn’t keep his word. As for corruption, the Lokpal Bill passed by the Delhi Assembly was not in line with the Jan Lokpal Bill that he once championed. Indeed, the issue of corruption for him now is on the back burner. It had to be as he is aware that 38 of the 62 MLAs of the AAP have serious criminal charges against them, even more than that of the BJP, and 73% of those MLAs are crorepatis. His own internal Lokpal remained non-existent after he sacked Admiral L Ramdas without assigning any reasons. He made unsubstantiated charges against members of political parties and then apologised fearing possible prosecution.

In December 2013, in a letter to Delhi Police, Kejriwal stated, “I do not need any security, I do not need any escort. ... God is my biggest security.” After becoming chief minister, he apparently lost faith in God and in 2018, passed a resolution in the Delhi Assembly targeting the Centre for “failing to ensure the security of an elected chief minister”. In February 2021, AAP’s spokesperson, Saurabh Bhardwaj, accused the Centre of reducing Kejriwal’s security cover. This doublespeak is the trademark of many political leaders. 

Recently in Punjab, he said, “Our CM candidate Bhagwant Mann does not have any money. Mann is very honest ... when a person becomes MLA in Punjab, he can acquire big cars and house but Mann has been MP for seven years and still stays in a rented house.” This echoes what Kejriwal had said in 2013 before the Delhi Assembly elections when he claimed that the AAP was against VIP culture and that when he becomes the CM, he would live in a humble accommodation and would not avail the official car; that elected representatives should live in a one-bedroom flat instead of expansive bungalows and junk security cover. Within two days of his taking oath, he requested not one but two five-bedroom official bungalows adjacent to each other. Kejriwal now lives in an official bungalow at Civil Lines and it is learnt that a tender worth `8.61 crore was awarded on 17 October 2020 for carrying out additions and alterations.

Now he is offering freebies to the people of Punjab—300 units of free and uninterrupted power supply, waiver of pending electricity bills and `1,000 per month to women—if his party is voted to power.
So much for the state of politics in this country! Our politicians are past masters at doublespeak. They seldom mean what they say. The shifting of alliances, the absence of ideology, crass opportunism and caste politics, a heady mix, is far removed from the concerns of the common man. He languishes and is often manipulated to vote for change.

Kapil Sibal
Senior lawyer, Congress leader and member of Rajya Sabha
(Tweets @KapilSibal)



Comments(2)

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  • Giri

    A Congress leader writing this is a travesty! This is a "senior leader" of a party that is the family property of a dynasty and none of these seniors has the courage to really rebel and try to oust the corrupt relics of the dynasty from the party!
    7 months ago reply
  • Giri

    Whatever Kejriwal is or isn't
    7 months ago reply
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