Chief ministers never have an easy time of it, especially if they don’t belong to the ruling party at the Centre. Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal has had a particularly harrowing time in office for the last year on account of the undeclared war with Lt Governor Najeeb Jung. He has had to fight to preserve his authority in the smallest of matters though he buried every other party in the assembly elections. It isn’t surprising, therefore, that he should feel the knives are out again and that he sees a continuing conspiracy to force him and his Aam Aadmi Party out of office. Still, it doesn’t excuse his spectacular blow-up earlier this week when he called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a coward and accused him of ordering a CBI raid on the office of Delhi Principal Secretary Rajender Kumar on suspicion of corrupt practices.
Kejriwal said the Centre was targeting him through his officers. The implication is that the Centre is using the CBI to tarnish his image by slapping false corruption charges on them. The Opposition has eagerly seized upon his complaints to hold up Parliament and further delay initiatives such as the GST bill. The winter session is already something of a shambles with the faux uproar over the National Herald case. Opposition fulminations over Kejriwal’s complaints promise to reduce it to low comedy. It is a reflection of the Opposition’s desperation that it is using any excuse to create the delusion of relevance. Disrupting proceedings makes news and media hyperventilation ensures more of the same.
Kejriwal may have a legitimate grievance but it doesn’t justify stalling Parliament. That is political grandstanding and betrays contempt for the very process that got him into power. On the other hand, the CBI’s claims of independence carry very little credibility because previous governments have used it too often to force recalcitrant leaders into line. Kejriwal, however, seems to have made a full-time profession of protest though he has a solid day job. He has forgotten that public office requires dignity, tact and an acute sense of the possible in the worst situation. His conduct strengthens suspicions that the victim card is a cover for incompetence.