It has all the ingredients of a B-grade soap opera. It might even have elicited a few titters had it not been for the fact that the dramatis personae are in charge of running the Capital city. After leaving the stage following the first round of histrionics, an indulgent electorate actually gave the Aam Aadmi Party a second chance with a handsome mandate. But AAP does not seem to be able to overcome its desire to display its acting chops rather than its administrative acumen.
In round one, we saw such edifying spectacles as the law minister conducting midnight raids on foreign women and we saw the chief minister all tucked up for the night in a floral quilt on the sidewalk. But then AAP ran a smart campaign and won, helped along by a Congress in retreat and an overconfident BJP. But instead of hunkering down for paanch saal with Kejriwal, the party has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
The latest in a long list of things which will interest you is the uber aam aadmi Arvind Kejriwal’s nasty remarks about the media. He wants all potentially defamatory remarks in the media to be reported for action. The Supreme Court has rightly given him a slap on the wrist for his double standards on the matter. And to think that this is the man who rode to fame for his work on the Right to Information Act. In fact, he thinks that the media has taken out a supari on his government. Now we know that the media is powerful, but a supari? I think Arvind has been watching more Bollywood gangster movies than is good for him. He has taken to blaming the same media he so assiduously courted on his way up, for the failures of his government.
I want to ask, did the media ask you to put yourself on collision course with the Lieutenant Governor? I think not. Does Arvind not realise that he has little choice but to co-exist in harmony with the L-G? The L-G is on firm ground when he says that important files have to be routed through him. Since Arvind and his government are the epitomes of transparency, what is the harm other than to his ego, in showing the L-G the files?
And what should have been sorted out privately has mysteriously found its way into the much reviled media. And let me take you to an incident before that. A farmer ostensibly commits suicide at an AAP rally in Delhi. After the hapless man died, Arvind who was addressing a crowd went on doing so. He either did not see the commotion or chose not to notice it. It seemed insensitive from a party which claims to espouse the cause of the common man. A quick apology and some restitution for the person’s family would have been in order. Arvind did apologise eventually but only after the somewhat insalubrious spectacle of his senior colleague Ashutosh weeping like a baby on television. Clearly, no one has told them of the effectiveness of understatement. “I cannot bring back your father,” Ashutosh wailed when confronted with the dead farmer’s young daughter who conducted herself with great poise and dignity.
Maybe Ashutosh is a highly emotional individual but the whole thing seemed to smack of political opportunism. I am not saying boys should not cry, but this was so over-the-top as to be off putting. All this hyper-dramatics don’t compensate for the fact that AAP, which was supposed to address the bread and butter issues that affect Delhiites, has done precious little so far. Instead Arvind has been mightily engaging in an internal purge, weeding out his once close lieutenants like Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav. Yadav who was an effective spokesman for AAP on television found himself at the receiving end of Arvind’s ire for alleged anti-party activities or as some would call it, questioning the supremacy of the leader.
Just when you thought things could not get cornier than Ashutosh’s outpourings, along comes the bard of AAP, Kumar Vishwas and his alleged personal entanglements. An AAP volunteer claimed that her husband had thrown her out suspecting a liaison with Vishwas and sought that he publicly deny the affair. The Delhi Commission of Women leapt in demanding that Vishwas come clean. I could not but feel sorry for the less than likeable Vishwas this time. Surely, the woman should have told her husband to get lost and the DCW should have steered clear of a messy personal entanglement which did not involve the violation of any women’s rights. But it did not, and now the HC has stayed a plea by Vishwas on a summons the DCW has issued him.
I am not saying that Arvind should usher in a revolution. But for all my untrained eyes can see, the city is as dirty as ever in parts, nothing by way of new infrastructure is coming up and many AAP ministers seem clueless about their portfolios. So where is the government by the people? At the risk of offending many, I say stop all this pretence that you are running a government by the people. Just get on with the task of making policy and implementing it. Just ensure that you and I can get official work done in an orderly fashion. We are not crusaders like Arvind who are waiting around every bush with our mobile phone cameras at the ready to catch erring officials.
He could do more on land use, power and water tariffs, environment, schools, subsidised health, I can name many more. Instead, he seems far more preoccupied with establishing his supremacy, defending his erring ministers and colleagues and lashing out at the Centre, the L-G and the media for his own lapses. AAP has ceased to be a movement, it has not evolved into an effective government. At first, I thought it was just teething troubles, a non-political politician getting used to the Byzantine intrigues of the Capital.
But now I feel downright disillusioned. If he has not learnt how to lead a government and a party by now, when is he going to do so? Are Delhiites to be guinea pigs a second time around? The crime rate is going up by the day. True the police don’t report to the Delhi government. But surely, Arvind can seek more help from the home ministry, build bridges with the Centre and learn that politics is not only about projecting one’s own simplicity but about delivering on the promises that brought you to power. The wailing and washing one’s dirty linen in public have already upset and disgusted many who voted for AAP. In the popular cartoon strip, Peanuts, there is the recurring incident of Lucy holding a ball for Charlie Brown to kick. As he comes running up for the kick, she takes the ball away. Yet, he falls for it each time. Come on Arvind, the Delhiite can be gullible, but not quite in the Charlie Brown category. We are looking for a goal or two here.