Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party stormed Indian politics winning a brutal majority in the Delhi assembly.
The Opposition was decimated. The Congress reduced to zero seats and the BJP to three. The joke was that the BJP could ride one of Delhi’s thirsty yellow and black auto rickshaws to the assembly.
So how did things come full circle?
The same Kejriwal is now desperate for an alliance with the Congress for the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, and the Congress with zero in its bag spurning him repeatedly. Though with humongous pressure on Congress president Rahul Gandhi from Mamata Banerjee and Chandrababu Naidu, the last word on the reluctant alliance is still to be said.
Kejriwal’s ideas was perceived as a new way of doing politics. The former income tax official stormed into politics by serial name-calling, accusing all senior politicians of alleged corruption. A slew of defamation cases followed. As a measure of how things have changed, Kejriwal has apologised in most of the cases.
Kejriwal is the one politician that no other politician or party trusts except for his agit-prop comrade Mamata Banerjee.
The Congress and Kejriwal share a common vote bank and both the parties realise that if they don’t ally they will give the BJP an easy walkover in seven critical seats.
Yet the Congress does not want to bite the Kejriwal bullet. The reasons are that he built his entire political career by abusing the Congress, especially former chief minister, Sheila Dikshit. Dikshit has returned as Congress Delhi chief.
The Congress claims that the entire Anna Hazare movement, which wreaked havoc on UPA 2 and was spearheaded by Kejriwal’s India Against Corruption, was stage-managed by the RSS and national security adviser Ajit Doval who was then running the RSS-backed Vivekanand foundation.
Congress leaders claim that the leading lights of the the anti-corruption movement such as Baba Ramdev and Hazare were RSS “mukhotas” (masks). Since Kejriwal had no problem sharing the stage with them, he must be one of them is the common chorus.
AAP has turned into a one-man show
Kejriwal is a hugely ambitious politician and a man in a hurry. From throwing out well-known lawyer Prashant Bhushan and psephologist Yogendra Yadav from AAP to his near projection as chief minister of Punjab - which unlike Delhi is a full state - to calling Narendra Modi a “coward and a psychopath” in a viral tweet, Kejriwal’s political patience is low.
All his former colleagues have deserted him including poet Kumar Vishwas and journalists Ashutosh and Ashish Khetan.
Bhushan told me that he made the biggest mistake of his life by supporting Kejriwal. Bhushan says Kejriwal was near identical to Modi in his dictatorial streak.
Kejriwal’s war cry against politics as usual was “sub mile hooye hain” (they are all mixed up) and that AAP would even make its funding transparent with all donations on its website.
The donations had to be removed as donors to AAP faced income tax cases. Kejriwal’s ploy of contesting Punjab elections flopped and the Punjab unit is in total disarray.
The AAP government in Delhi has done some excellent work in education and setting up mohalla (locality) clinics, but at the end of the day, Kejriwal has reduced it to a one-man show.
The next elections are critical for AAP. Without an alliance with the Congress they will be wiped out. The Congress has displayed a rare delay of political gratification by ensuring that AAP does not become a rival in Punjab where Kejriwal also wants an alliance.
Kejriwal and his AAP came as a fresh way of doing things rather than the politics of business as usual.
As Kejriwal stares at oblivion new politics in India seem to have been checkmated.