Arvind Kejriwal, founder of India’s most successful political start up - Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) - had made a promise to change and clean up politics in India.
Instead, Delhi Chief Minister (CM) now faces allegations of corruption with his minister, Satyendra Jain, facing serious graft charges.
Despite Kejriwal’s claims to probity in public life, it is significant that he hasn’t sacked Jain yet, who after viral videos of him getting a massage in Tihar Jail, has been dubbed as the “massage minister”.
AAP first claimed that Jain was getting “physiotherapy” but, then it emerged that the “physiotherapist” was actually a rape accused in jail. If this was not bad enough, Jain seemed to have a luxurious jail cell complete with bottles of mineral water.
Jain appeared in the video lying on a single bed, being massaged and reading some papers. A still life of a minister at work. Except it was inside a jail cell.
Paying lip service
So did Kejriwal sack him? Not at all! Kejriwal brazened it out.
Contrast the kid-glove treatment to money laundering accused Jain with the alacrity with which Kejriwal dropped a Dalit minister Rajendra Bal Gautam whose crime was to recite B R Ambedkar’s vows in a public gathering.
Gautam was attacked by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of being “anti Hindu” and as he fights the Gujarat elections, Kejriwal couldn’t take any chances and dropped Gautam.
The treatment of Jain and Gautam show you how far Kejriwal has come from his claimed idealism to politics of utter venality. Kejriwal pays lip service to Ambedkar but, gets rid of a minister who went to the Dalit event in question.
This politics of convenience which Kejriwal is now adept at was a long time in coming. When Jawaharlal Nehru university students were attacked by thugs, Kejriwal preferred to stay mum.
Despite, being Delhi’s CM, he refused to visit the JNU campus lest the BJP tarr him as “anti national”.
The dichotomy is that Kejriwal wants to compete electorally with the BJP but, has practically surrendered to doing politics on the BJP’s terms.
This was more than evident when the police entered the Jamia Milia (a central university with a minority status based in Delhi).
Not only did Kejriwal not condemn the attack, he refused to visit the terrified students who had been beaten up on campus.
Even in the case of the minority women protesting against the draconian Citizenship Amendment Act, Kejriwal chose to stay mum and only wanted the road they were protesting opened up for traffic.
Says a senior Congress leader, “Kejriwal is a mini-Modi. He controls the press by a massive publicity budget and denies advertising when anything remotely negative is printed. AAP also has a massive troll army, based on the BJP’s infamous IT cell. AAP and Kejriwal are saffron lite”.
A cult figure
Kejriwal has also turned the AAP in to cult of himself by getting rid of men of impeccable integrity such as the distinguished public interest crusader and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav — a top civil society activist.
They were literally bodily thrown out of the AAP. The same treatment was meted to oust poet Kumar Vishwas, an AAP founder, as Kejriwal converted himself in to a leader for life of the AAP.
Consider this when AAP had to nominate two members of the Rajya Sabha. Kejriwal opted for two non-entities collectively called the “Guptas” who had made huge donations to AAP. Both have been on mute mode in the upper house of India’s bicameral Parliament.
Kejriwal had sworn that he would not occupy a huge government bungalow or take security before he became CM. Kejriwal has been quietly living in a bungalow with all the trimmings.
The Delhi CM wanted to bring revolutionary change in to Indian politics. Instead politics completely has completely changed Kejriwal.