How could a party that owes its birth to the Lokpal concept send its own ombudsman packing? Isn’t that political hara-kiri?
I’ve always held that Arvind Kejriwal knows what he is doing. That he works to a plan. But, by sacking the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) internal Lokpal, Admiral Ramdass, the Delhi chief minister has apparently brought upon himself a blot he’d have problems living down.
In perceptional terms, the decision might prove as costly for Kejriwal as the CAG report on the 2G scam was for the Congress leadership and the Land Bill is proving to be for the BJP brass. The AAP chief could be at serious risk of losing his Teflon cover that saw him emerge blemish-free from countless allegations in the none-too-distant past.
Transparency, inner-party democracy, decentralization of power and equity in decision-making are principles most parties compromise citing pragmatism. But the integrity of individuals and institutions has been the center piece of the India against Corruption movement and the AAP, its political offspring.
Its inviolability need not be emphasised to Kejriwal and his associates.
The rebel group led by Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav has attacked the loyalists for stifling dissent and intra-party discourse. Their strategy is to show Kejriwal as autocratic and intolerant. For his part, the Delhi CM has painted them as a fastidious pressure group that conspired to ‘contain him by seeking to contain the party’s poll performance.’
There’s truth in both versions. But that’s another story. The rebels are no Mamata Banerjee or Jaganmohan Reddy, who quit the Congress to become the Congress in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. As the poor have little time for democratic debates, their war with Kejriwal is for the middle class mind. They cannot be wished away as they are media savvy and Delhi’s a city state that feeds on the moving picture.
For instance, the day the Kejriwal-controlled national council of AAP expelled four senior leaders — including Bhushan and Yadav — from the national executive, television channels beamed municipal workers dumping trash on roads over non-payment of wages. Such optics can destroy the best of administrators.
The Lokpal’s summary ejection has dented Kejriwal’s best asset — his Teflon image. Probity has been his stock in trade. Without that, he’d cease to be a political currency of any consequence. His friends turned rivals know that.
They’d devalue him in popular perception by showing themselves as custodians of the values he abandoned.
Only an early stop to administrative corruption in Delhi can be the CM’s salvation amidst early disenchantment. He can successfully fight adversaries only if he comes across as fighting for the people of Delhi. He either governs. Or goes down.