Arvind Kejriwal: Was He Ever Serious About Good Governance?

By: Pathikrit
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The much hyped Government of Change as was projected by the catapult of Arvind Kejriwal as the Chief Minister of Delhi, eventually did not even last 50 days. On 14th of February, 2014, Kejriwal resigned after his government failed to introduce the Janlokpal Bill in the Delhi Assembly where a united opposition voted it out. The Contention of BJP and Congress was that they needed time to study the bill in advance before having the discussion and voting on the same. With the AAP Government insisting on the voting the very same day with or without debate, eventually it was rejected with most of the members of the house voting against it.

Was Janlokpal Bill a perfect alibi to get rid of running the Delhi Government?

Arvind Kejriwal thus found a perfect alibi to resign and perhaps rescue himself from the predicament of governing Delhi which was essentially becoming a challenging task for him. With General Elections less than three months away, many perceive the stage was set by Kejriwal himself to find an escape route and go back to the role he feels most comfortable with, i.e. street politics and agitation.

What People Expected From Kejriwal....

Almost one and a half month back when Kejriwal was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Delhi, after having handsomely defeated Sheila Dikshit, there were expectations. The expectations ranged from solving Delhi's perennial issues of shortage of electricity and water as well as issues related to crime and safety of women. There were expectations also in respect of making housing more affordable by doing away with archaic laws that inhibit construction of high-rise buildings as well as taking Delhi's vibrant industrial economy to a higher echelon with much better infrastructure development and connectivity. Yet each of these needed long term vision and investment of both time and mind. Questions on his vision may remain unanswered but Kejriwal certainly did not have time. He wanted to do all in a hurry and prove his mettle before the forthcoming general elections.

Would the Voters of Delhi Buy His Story Again and Vote for Him?

The anti Government Crusader as a Struggling Chief Minister

Within days of coming to power, he realised that agitation is one thing, governance is quite another. Governance and especially reforms in governance needs a patient approach which he certainly didn't have. He realised that the Chief Minister does not have the authority to altar price of electricity on whims and that there is an electricity regulatory commission for that. Thus the alternate route was the time tested subsidy route, fiscal prudence be damned vindicating thereby that he is no different from others when it comes to populism. But even the subsidies provided in electricity and water was not being able to satisfy his electorate who were expecting more in terms of freebies, the perennial problem of populism. With one of his MLAs even getting slapped by voters for failing to provide the subsidised water to those who didn't have metered connection, Kejriwal perhaps knew the shape of things to come as summers are going to arrive soon in Delhi, a time when the city's populace suffer severely from both power and water shortage. With sky high promises on one hand and with a beleaguered power distribution company not being able to pay for the power procured from NTPC, the entire heat of not being able to deliver would have fallen upon Kejriwal.

Was he really serious about running a good administration?

Besides, with issues his Law Minister Somnath Bharti's allegedly involved in spamming business, with the Dharna on the Delhi Police issue before Republic Day not yielding the desired results, Kejriwal needed a way to get out of it. The Janlokpal Bill became his perfect ploy. Few pertinent questions however still remain unanswered. If Kejriwal was indeed serious about the Jan Lokpal Bill why couldn't he wait for the consent of the Lieutenant Governor? Where was the need to keep the contents of the bill secret till the last moment and not share it with the assembly before the tabling of the bill? As Sri Sri Ravishankar tweeted, "Arvind Shouldn't have resigned. He could have put a few ministers in jail. There are enough laws existing for that" which echoes the thought of many who consider this act as a way of shirking away from responsibility. In any case there was no no-condifence motion against his government.

Did he take Delhi for a ride?

While Kejriwal has taken a gamble for sure, only time would tell to what extent this would pay off or backfire. He has also written to the Lt Governor to dissolve the assembly. Does this mean that he is also concerned about many of his first time MLAs shifting allegiance? Even though that as an issue may only arise if BJP shows interest in forming an alternate government, the bigger question that remains as to whether Kejriwal would again contest the Delhi Assembly election. Would he again project himself as the Chief Ministerial candidate of AAP and seek a fresh mandate or is it that Kejriwal is no longer interested in Delhi Assembly and is now thinking solely of Lok Sabha Elections? And if that is the case, then what was his reason for claiming to form government in Delhi? Was it all premeditated? Was Congress in the kowtow of all of it as claimed by some? Is there a ploy in it to push Kejriwal into the centrestage and divide the anti-Congress vote? Was there a deliberate ploy to make sure that the Janlokpal Bill is never passed?

Expelled AAP MLA Vinod Binny has alleged that there was never an attempt by AAP to pass the Janlokpal Bill. In his words, ‘, "Arvind Kejriwal never wanted Jan Lokpal passed. They want the politics on Jan Lokpal to stay alive, that's why they didn't want to clear it. If they were sincere they would have pushed for it. They wanted this drama." In the hindsight one is forced to question if at all Kejriwal was ever serious about running the Delhi Government. Was there a need to even form a government if this was what he eventually was planning to do? Why not any agitation to reintroduce the bill and get it cleared? Issues of differences between the Central Government and the State Governments have always existed. But never before an incumbent government quitted like this on whims and impulse.

Was it essentially about Janlokpal Bill or the forthcoming Lok Sabha Elections?

It is clear now perhaps Arvind Kejriwal would concentrate on the Lok Sabha elections and would not even be bothered about Delhi any more. It is also very clear that a dangerous ploy is being created to make the whole thing an anti-capitalist movement by cleverly involving Ambanis and Adanis into it. One needs to tell Kejriwal that even while India is willing to fight corruption; it is not willing to go back to the archaic age of socialism devoid of private capital and entrepreneurship. India needs her industrialists as well to create jobs and boost the economy. At the end of the day it would not be the Kejriwals and Medha Patkars but the industrialists and entrepreneurs who would create jobs for India's teeming millions of educated job seekers. Fighting the issue of gas price controversy does not necessarily mean India has to shun industry as a whole.

Did he just make the biggest mistake of his political career?

While the drama continues and the Delhi Government has been put into suspended animation, it is for sure that Kejriwal would go back to the electorate with his version of the story and his victimhood. Chances are high that many of his diehard fans would still vouch for him but questions remain as to how most of the educated working class and part of the business class would behave. Would they buy his story again? Would Arvind Kejriwal end up regretting the golden chance he missed of governing Delhi for 60 long months and creating a benchmark for his party and others. Only time would say if the quintessential proverb of ‘quitters never win and winners never quit' would have another example in the name of Arvind Kejriwal. Delhi be damned.

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