Congress looks for balm to treat its Kejriwal headache
The AAP hit back saying its participation in INDIA would be meaningless if the Congress wanted to go it alone in Delhi.
AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal attacking the quality of the Congress-led Chhattisgarh government’s schools and the grand old party’s prickly riposte showed the limitations of the Opposition alliance, dramatically christened INDIA barely a month ago. Both sides appear bent on proving Union home minister Amit Shah’s prophecy that the AAP would have no use for INDIA after the Delhi services bill is put to vote in the Rajya Sabha.
With the Opposition failing to defeat it in Parliament, Kejriwal has started going ballistic. By design or otherwise, the first stone arguably was thrown by Delhi Congress leader Alka Lamba, who said a meeting convened by party president Mallikarjun Kharge in the presence of Rahul Gandhi advised the cadre to make strong preparations for elections in all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi. The AAP hit back saying its participation in INDIA would be meaningless if the Congress wanted to go it alone in Delhi. The latter then disowned Lamba, saying the decision on the Delhi alliance will be taken by the high command, adding she was not authorised to speak on such matters. With the Delhi controversy still simmering, Kejriwal took a swipe at the Chhattisgarh administration at a convention of party workers in Raipur, where he made 10 guarantees if the poll-bound state were to vote the AAP to power.
The guarantees include free power; monthly dole to all women; free quality school education; mohalla clinics; monthly allowance to the jobless youth; and regularising contractual employees. The politics of guarantees helped both the AAP and the Congress wrest power in different states. But in states where the AAP is weak, as it is in Chhattisgarh, it would end up helping the BJP by taking a slice of the Congress vote share—like it did in Gujarat. If Kejriwal launched the broadside only to force the Congress to the talks table on Lok Sabha seats in Delhi and Punjab, implicit in it would be the presumption that voters are ignorant and malleable. That assumption would be a big mistake.
AAP is like a vulture that preys largely on Congress voters. Any truce would deny it the fodder it needs for growth. As the saying goes in Hindi, “Ghoda ghas se yari karega to khayega kya?” (What would a horse feed on if it were to strike friendship with grass?) Incompatible AAP is a burden on the Congress, not a force multiplier.