When Arvind Kejriwal resigned after his infamous 49 day rule, everyone expected BJP to win the Delhi Assembly. However, he returned to reclaim the throne of Delhi with a bang, kicking the Congress out of political scenario and reducing BJP to some miniscule opposition. The return was so powerful, there were people who wondered why and how AAP failed to win those three seats.
Of course, during the president rule, Arvind had regrouped forces and attacked the electorate with a strategy. From door-to-door campaigns to candidate selection, he did 67 out of 70 times correctly. Well, that is the best way to put it. Right? He even taught a lesson or two to BJP, the only cadre based party with a national presence. Communists too are cadre based, but they don’t have national presence nor they listen and learn from others.
Unlike many other political leaders, Arvind Kejriwal enjoys the advantage of formal higher education and industrial and administrative experience, apart from the experience he gained by being an activist. Here was a guy, who could genuinely think out of box. He observed the power of emotions of ‘aam aadmi’ during the protests led by Anna Hazare. From selecting the humble broom for the party symbol to hijacking the gandhi topi with captions, he had share of small innovations and new promises to Delhi voters. Perhaps, the media that was devoid of any hero other than Narendra Modi, had taken kindly to him and praised him a bit more than what was truly deserved by him. Of course, when the national media was reluctant to acknowledge the charisma of Modi, Arvind was the next best thing they could market, considering the continuous flop show of Rahul Gandhi. Only alternative to Arvind who could attract national attention was Mamata Banerjee, but she was too mercurial even for the volatile media.
Like a good administrator, Arvind handed over the charge of Delhi to Sisodia and embarked on a national mission. Continuous cat fights with Lieutenant General of Delhi have forced Kejriwal to realise the need to rule a real state, to enjoy the power of Chief Minister. Though Goa was more of an experiment to test waters in a distant place, Punjab was selected primarily because of the strong anti-incumbancy factor. Kejriwal adhered to his strategy that put Delhi in AAP’s basket in Punjab, Goa and even in Gujarat. To say it in a gentle manner, results of Punjab and Goa were hugely disappointing for AAP and shattered the dreams of Kejriwal.
Why his strategies failed so badly in both the states? Where he went wrong? Had the failure been in Delhi, one can blame the incumbency factor, though Arvind and Manish may deny the existence of incumbency. AAP was fighting elections for the first time in Punjab and Goa. Even if Goa is considered a complex state to win, Punjab with the much discussed drug problem and corporatisation of the state by Badals was almost like conquering Delhi plagued with the rule of Sheila Dixit. And, Arvind had his NRI army too working for him. And, BJP never was serious about the state, so much so that they let even Sidhu, regular winner from Amritsar to leave the party.
One reason of employing outsiders to run the election campaign in both states had worked against the party. Outsiders are welcome in all states, but they should be supporting the locals, who are supposed to be in control of the party in the state. Seems Arvind had not learned anything from the BJP’s debacle in Bihar. He repeated all mistakes BJP committed in Bihar, perhaps amplified in quantum. It is surprising how Kejriwal expected to fight the drug menace in Punjab, by making Bhagwant Mann, the face of fight against drugs. Considering the number of videos showing Mann in need of support from others, Kejriwal’s decision was in a way demeaning the common sense of voters. Though the NRI volunteers worked hard, Arvind had broken the back bone of the organisation by forcing the likes of Chhotepur out of the party. Not only this, there were questions about his NRI platoon being sympathisers to the Khalistan cause, that pushed away old voters of Punjab, who have already experienced the nightmare of living under the terrorism’s shadow. One external factor affected AAP was Rahul Gandhi, who was busy in Uttar Pradesh. This has contained embarrassing moments for Congress and the seasoned Captain took full advantage of the situation.
In Goa, it was the foolishness of BJP that allowed Congress to creep into power. Even here, AAP could not make any difference, in one perspective, one can say voters were indifferent to the party. This, despite the fact that there was not much infighting in the party, and a different vote base of Goa.
Maybe it is high time for Arvind Kejriwal to introspect. In the last two or three years, the public behaviour of Arvind is only comparable to that of Mamata Banerjee. And, Mamata never tried hard to extend her influence outside Bengal.
Both Arvind and Mamata were very much vocal against Modi, and are the most vitriolic against the prime minister, considering them to be only chief ministers of their respective state, and in Arvind’s case his position is a sort of quasi one.
Both worked in their respective states as per their own strategies and expect to return to power. Time will tell about Arvind’s work, but Mamata had already proved what she is worth of. Both of them ensured their vitriol against Modi was totally isolated from the working of their governments, except Arvind blamed the centre for all short comings of his administration.
Even if one considers AAP government in Delhi is the best one, what image of the city was projected to the entire nation? That of a government that blames the centre for every failure. Sheila Dixit could run Delhi for fifteen long years of which five were with NDA government in the centre, modernisation of Delhi happened during her time though she pocketed many hundreds of crores even without making a hiss. The continuous roar of Arvind had only sounded like howling to all those, who don’t live in Delhi. All they could see was a guy (who already was notorious for backstabbing Anna), who could not run even a city state! Compare this with Chandrababu Naidu or Jayalalithaa or even Akhilesh Yadav. No other CM, despite ruling much bigger states have been vocal on the union government, especially on issues that have no relevance to the constitutional responsibilities the CM position holds. Even the mercurial Mamata used to yell in high pitch, only during election season, with the exception of post DeMo period.
For the good deeds his government did, Arvind had to advertise in newspapers, expenses properly booked by the exchequer. But, for all the bad incidents that happened to his party with a consistent regularity, he never had to advertise, for negative publicity is gained free of cost. Arvind transformed into a quiz master who asks questions to which even he doesn’t know answers. He failed to behave like a genuine human, while Gajendra Singh attempted to commit suicide in his presence, successfully. He failed to uplift the commitment to women, when sex scandals were tumbling out of his rumbling cupboard, though he could successfully suppress the one that involved him. Under the garb of Aam Aadmi, when his ministers were booked for tax evasion and black money, he could pretend no more that he knew nothing. After all, here is the man who uses intelligence against even the prime minister; how can he not know of his own ministers? And, if he really doesn’t know about his ministers being corrupt and predators, why the hell he should be voted to power? This was the question in the minds of voters in Punjab and Goa.
Arvind following the Mamata model only holds good, if he is confined to one state and venturing outside occasionally. If he intends to spread wings across nation, he better follow the model of Chandrababu Naidu, who still finds some resonance even in Telangana. A person who aspires to be a national leader should know what to talk and when to talk, especially what not and when not! Maybe like all media creations, he had his moment. It is time for Kejriwal to find out whether he is using the media or the media is gaining TRP at his expense. He may well read the histories of NTR and Karunanidhi, who used media to establish and further their political careers. On the other hand is Rahul Gandhi and Jaganmohan Reddy, who were used by the media. For a politician, it is not only sufficient to appear on the screen for long, he or she should appear in a positive way. Unfortunately, Arvind lost the original script somewhere in the journey and was following wrong idols.
Hope, unlike Rahul Gandhi and Congress, Arvind Kejriwal and AAP will really do introspect and mend their ways so that they can really become relevant in political spectrum. Gujarat elections are only few months away. Though the BJP juggernaut is now firmly rolling, there are some cracks in the forts of Junagadh that can be exploited, only if someone knows how to widen them. Hell, man we need a decent opposition to BJP to have a check on them.