AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal addresses supporters as he heads to the district collectors office to file his nomination papers in Varanasi. (HT photo/Arun Sharma)
Morals and principles are guests of convenience in politics. They can be easily thrown out to accommodate greed and power lust, the permanent residents of the corridors of power.
The election festival is over. In true Indian tradition of seeing off guests after a celebration, the Delhi BJP has given vidai to guests it had invited to impress the middle class. It is time for turncoats and Aaya-Rams, Gaya-Rams to move in.
The BJP should not be blamed for trying to win over legislators from the Congress or the AAP. The real aim of an election in India, as we would continue to see in the near future, is to grab power. Principles, morals, idealism are just the means to the end.
The real problem lies with Arvind Kejriwal, who refuses to understand the rules of the Indian political game. Like an obdurate student in awe of moral science lessons taught at school, he refuses to learn realpolitik.
It is time he did. He should realise that the people of Delhi had voted for a politician in December. They had not elected a priest for sermonizing on issues that mean very little to them.
It is time Kejriwal joined the game instead of judging it from the sidelines. It is time he remembered what he had said while forming the AAP: "If politics is dirty, we will have to get into it to clean it."
Whatever be the current spin on it, the real story of the December election in Delhi was this: People wanted the AAP to form the government.
The BJP may claim it had won more seats. But the AAP missed the majority mark only because it was a new phenomenon and many people voted in favour of the BJP simply because it was an established alternative. A lot has, of course, changed after that.
By trying to trade in Congress and AAP horses, even if in the garb of providing Delhi a 'stable government', the BJP is retrospectively twisting the verdict of Delhi. It should have ideally fought for a fresh election. But its confidence appears to have shaken after its botched handling of the electricity crisis and the impending arrival of burre din because of inflation.
But Kejriwal shouldn't forget the original message of December 2013. He made that mistake when he quit over Lokpal. It is time to make amends now. And not just by apologizing for relinquishing the CM's post.
First, he should make clear and loud noises about his intent to form the government. This will not only galvanize his cadres but also help him retain hold over his flock, where some of the black sheep are dreaming of a saffron makeover.
Next, he should get on the phone line with the Congress. But he should go to them like a humble host requesting their presence and not like an arrogant landlord allowing the Congress some space on his terms and conditions. The AAP-Congress alliance should be a pact between two equals, not a humiliating arrangement between a boxer and a punching bag.
The Congress, if prodded and persuaded, is likely to see reason. For it gains nothing from gifting away its MLAs to the BJP or its government on a platter. It is dreaming of an election in Delhi. What it will get instead is mass defection.
It would do well to remember Allama Iqbal's poetic prophesy: Na samjhoge to mit jaoge aye Congress walon…(You will be wiped out if you don't understand the situation.)
Politics is about saam, daam, danda, bhed (politics by any means). Our ancient treatises prove that only those who mastered all the four canons of the Chanakya neeti managed to rule successfully.
Kejriwal started out with high moral equity. That didn't take him far. He should now learn from our political history and the BJP's current philosophy of power being the ultimate goal of every politician.
Kejriwal should move swiftly to reclaim what his party owns rightfully: the claim to form the Delhi government. When everybody is shedding their clothes, why should the AAP stick to hubris and outdated principles?
(The views expressed are personal)