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‘The Kejriwal Gambit’

Right from the day the Aam Aadmi Party ( AAP) won its twenty eight seats , much to everybody’s surprise, in India’s  Delhi state elections  it has been spoiling for a fight . With Arvind Kejriwal now having let go of the Chief Minister’s chair, barely 49 days after being sworn-in, the AAP well and truly have a fight on its hands. Only time will tell whether political prudence or hardboiled realpolitik  wins the day as a few months from now India hurtles towards a general election.

Kejriwal has played true to form and character, from what we have seen of him and the party so far. Having carried the Jan Lokpal rhetoric to such a pitch there would have been a serious loss of face for the  AAP had Kejriwal not resigned and sought dissolution of the Assembly once it became obvious that the Bill would not see the light of the day, at least not in the form and the hurry the AAP wanted.

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party rather hypocritically and conveniently took recourse to constitutional impropriety in trying to block the introduction and passage of the Bill. The two parties have a long history and surely even longer memories to realise of how the constitution that they are swearing by now has been given a short shrift when it suited them. But then was Kejriwal right in pushing it too far, after all personal ambitions and political expediency cannot be allowed to overtake laid down constitutional procedures. Right or wrong the rules of the game have to be followed until they are changed as per needs and good sense but these things take time.

But it is time which the AAP does not have. It is riding a wave and has sensed and tapped into the mood of the people and will not let go. That it has revelled in the agitational politics and tapped into the fury of the hapless citizens in AAP’s view makes it the right time to go for broke.

The AAP at worst can only be accused of lacking the finer skills of governing , it has got the rhetoric right but that has to be translated into governance. Street-fighting politics will only take it to a certain point from then on it is all about addressing the problems of the citizens and running the government. Opponents have pounced on the party after the resignation accusing it of running away from responsibilities and being taking the people for a ride in its quest for power

Caught , in a way off guard, by the success of the AAP the two main players Congress and BJP will do their utmost to not let AAP repeat its performance. The clamour by members of the ruling Congress in Maharashtra to reduce the electric power tariff, Vasundhra Raje, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan deigning to travel second class in a train, even if was short journey, the gradual disappearance of the beacon lights atop official vehicles and politicians of all hues trying to show up their down to earth humble pretensions are all pointers to how the AAP has caught the imagination of the people.

From the way matters are panning out in Delhi it looks the state elections will now be held only after the general elections. AAP after the initial euphoria and success will not find things easy this time around. If it can get into double figures in the Lok Sabha, the lower house in Indian parliament, and win in Delhi state the party will have arrived.

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