By Amulya Ganguli
In deciding to support Arvind Kejriwal in one of his customary skirmishes with those whom he regards as his enemy, the chief ministers of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala may be backing the wrong horse.
The sight of Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu, H D Kumaraswamy and Pinarayi Vijayan sitting side by side in Kejriwal’s house and calling for the prime minister’s intervention in the dharna being observed by the Delhi chief minister against the Lt. Governor, Anil Baijal, may be seen as yet another example of a united offensive against the BJP.
But it is necessary for the anti-BJP forces to remember that their opposition to the ruling party at the Centre has to be motivated by a worthwhile cause, which will have wide popular support and will be unambiguously recognized as worth fighting for. If Kejriwal’s dharna does not fall in this category, the reason is his past record which suggests that he never matured from being a rabble-rousing activist during Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign to be a sober and responsible chief minister.
Instead, his instincts remain that of an “anarchist”, as he once boasted during his first term in office when he also threatened to disrupt the Republic Day parade while sitting on yet another dharna inside the security zone of Lutyens Delhi. His resignation as the chief minister after that episode and re-election have not induced any change in his attitude.
He continues to be a person who believes in theatrics to attract public attention in order to get his way on whatever his objective is at the time. At the moment, his objective is to draw attention to the “strike” which is being observed by the IAS bureaucrats. But he would rather not dwell on the reason which made the officials resort to such an unusual step, which is the alleged assault on the chief secretary by the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) legislators in the chief minister’s house following a difference of opinion.
In a way, he had always been an outsider who believed along with others in Anna Hazare’s movement that they had a special mandate to set things right in the country. He is also a loner who found it impossible to get along with those who may have a voice of their own. Hence, the eviction from the party of Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan and others.
From all accounts, therefore, Kejriwal answers to the description of being “yera” or crazy, a Marathi word used by the former Union home minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, when Kejriwal was signing files sitting on a Delhi pavement during winter.
While Kejriwal has calmed down somewhat from the time when he accused everyone from Mukesh Ambani to Arun Jaitley of being on the wrong side of the law, and earned libel suits against himself as a result, his latest antics have shown that anarchism remains ingrained in his temperament.
For Mamata Banerjee and Co. to take up his case, therefore, show a woeful lack of judgment, which not only ignores the incident of alleged assault, but also endorses the undignified and melodramatic act of elected representatives behaving in a wholly unbecoming manner by “occupying” the visitors’ room in the Lt. Governor’s house to compel the latter to hear their grievances.
It goes without saying that even at a time when rowdy behaviour has seemingly become the norm in parliament and the legislative assemblies and verbal restraint is not always observed by high dignitaries, as when a minister calls journalists “presstitudes”, the unseemly drama enacted by Kejriwal is one of the worst incidents in which politicians have been involved in recent years.
The Congress’s abstention from the support extended to Kejriwal by the four chief ministers can be explained by the fact that it is a political opponent of the AAP in Delhi (like the BJP), but the failure of the Telangana chief minister, K Chandrashekar Rao, to join the four although he is a votary of a federal front (and despite being in Delhi) is significant.
It shows that an anti-BJP front cannot simply be drummed up if a critic of the saffron party suddenly throws a tantrum. There has to be a justifiable reason for lending him a helping hand. Otherwise, the idea of an anti-BJP formation will appear whimsical and not in support of a cause where injustice has palpably been done. (IPA Service)