AK49 - Fake Apology, Real Drama

Akash BanerjeeApologies don’t come easy to the political class – the fact that Arvind Kejriwal finally apologized to the people of Delhi for having abandoned them in 49 days should have come as good news. However within hours it was clear that Kejriwal was back to playing politics as he tries to save face after being decimated in the general elections. Kejriwal calculates that a positive outcome in the Delhi elections can rescue him from the political ICU – but for that to happen – a lot more genuine apologies (and clarifications) would be needed to make him trustworthy. That seems unlikely given Kejriwal’s continued braggadocio and brazenness, but still...

Confess that he treated the law like an ass: Just hours after his ‘apology’ to Delhi voters, Kejriwal was back to playing victim. Challenging the court’s writ on grounds of ‘principles’ he refused to pay a simple bail bond of R10,000 in connection with the Nitin Gadkari defamation case. The court also responded — on grounds of principles of law — and sent him to Tihar for two days. Anarchist Kejriwal has broken laws with impunity and it’s high time that he realizes that he can’t challenge/defame any and every one – that too without proof. The law applies to the mighty Kejriwal as well.

A sorry for killing the very idea of AAP: It was the anti-corruption plank that got Kajriwal the fan following and the stunning victory in Delhi. Suddenly in the heat of Lok Sabha elections it was all about Kejriwal vs Modi, the issue of corruption got a short shift as it became a personality battle. Now imagine if AAP has announced that it would target and challenge (say) 50 of the most corrupt/criminal candidates in the fray. The tally on 16th May would have been 40 instead of 4. In other words Kejriwal should personally owe up to the fact that he diluted the strong brand value of AAP.

Apology for shooting his foot soldiers: Arrogance is a bug that bites every politician; in Arvind’s case it was ridiculously premature. From being a darling of the media, he became an object of ridicule in record breaking time – primarily because Kejriwal failed to appreciate the fact that as a politician he wouldn’t get the same mollycoddling from the media as he did as a social crusader. Calling journalists / news channels ‘Ambani controlled’ at the drop of a hat wasn’t the best idea – since it was the only medium that was taking his message to the masses. Kejriwal singlehandedly killed the foot soldier called the media that was spreading AAP’s message.

Regret for throttling logic in his lust for power: Narendra Modi in his victory speech made it clear that BJP’s victory in 2014 came on the back of sweat and toil of generations of leaders. Kejriwal in his lust of power wanted to go from the Stone Age to the Industrial age; even a political novice would know that supporting / organizing / publicizing 350 candidates would take years of preparation at the very least. Not only has AAP lost dismally in many areas – it’s damaged its future prospects as a serious player as well. His actions in Delhi too are being seen as entertaining dramas – rather than harbingers of a revolution.

A promise to mend autocratic ways: For too long there have been murmurs in AAP that Arvind Kejriwal is too autocratic for his own good. While that itself is no crime – it’s a sad state for a party that professes to do everything by popular consent and vote. There is a duality in Kejriwal and the way AAP is run – that duality stood exposed as the party canvassed for votes. For people to repose faith in AAP such ambiguities will have to go. Kejriwal must realize that he’s no Modi and scale down his grip accordingly.

Will Kejriwal win Delhi? Absolutely not. But politics is the art of the impossible and Kejriwal will have to walk a long road to political redemption. Saying sorry for a plethora of wrongs would be a good start, since ditching Delhi was just one err in a long list.

As he cools his heels in Tihar - Kejriwal needs to introspect on his methods and attitude, not furnishing bail bond is not going to make him a martyr anymore – perhaps more of a joke. Just like calling everyone corrupt – doesn’t make him unimpeachable. So here’s to a more tempered, methodological, balanced, realistic, non-victimized Arvind Kejriwal – in 2019.

The writer is the author of Tales from Shining and Sinking India

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