When Arvind Kejriwal and his year-old organisation, AAP, won the Delhi elections in December, upsetting the calculations of the two political behemoths, the Congress and the BJP, they were hailed by many as game changers — the ‘game’ being the existing political scenario.
That task, even the most-ardent of AAP’s supporters would agree, was always going to be easier said than done.
While showing lot of intent and bravado in the last one month, Mr Kejriwal and his inexperienced team, who are facing the twin challenge of governing a difficult city and also consolidating their party in and outside the Capital ahead of the crucial general elections, have also shown that they — as and when required — don’t mind behaving like archetypical politicians, the kind voters have come to loathe, for long-term electoral gains.
This is certain to upset a major chunk of their supporters, but evidently the party does not think so.
After law minister Somnath Bharti’s misadventure in the Capital’s Khirki village, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, just like many of his colleagues in other parties, dropped a bombshell when he said that he would not ban khap panchayats, the illegal village courts, because they had a "cultural" purpose despite their harsh treatment of women.
And then very cleverly balanced that outrageous statement by saying that "whenever they [khap panchayats] take a wrong decision, whenever they take an illegal decision, they ought to be punished."
The statement came only days after 13 men were arrested for gang raping a 20-year-old tribal woman on the orders of a village court in West Bengal as punishment for having a relationship with a man from another community.
It is well known that such village courts are anything but ‘cultural organisations’ and they wield enormous political clout and that’s the reason why parties, including AAP, will think twice before upsetting them, especially before an election. Also, Haryana, where such courts rule the roost, is AAP’s next destination.
It’s unfortunate that AAP, despite showing promise, is also, like other established parties, trying to be everything to everyone, that old and dangerous game.