New Delhi :
In politically strange and unsettling times where even a mere suggestion of dissent is unpalatable and dubbed anti-national, open letters have become the new instruments of breaching the protocol. A series of open letters from an ousted minister to his former boss recently has caught the fancy of the nation. Former Aam Aadmi Party leader and minister in Arvind Kejriwal cabinet - Kapil Mishra - has written two open letters to Delhi Chief Minister and party chief Arvind Kejriwal. In the first letter he repeated his earlier claims and prepared the grounds for his ouster taking dissent right into Kejriwal’s home, by accusing his former boss of receiving illegal money at the hands of his cabinet colleague Satyendar Jain, followed by a second open letter after he was kicked out of AAP - a party which he co-founded with Kejriwal.
That Kejriwal’s coterie hit back at Kapil Mishra was only to be expected. Kapil Mishra’s allegations found no takers within the party. Even Kumar Vishwas with whom the coterie has had a run in a few days back, came out in open support of Arvind Kejriwal. In fact, Kejriwal’s former comrade-in-arms Yogendra Yadav, who was unceremoniously kicked out of the party for raising a banner of revolt, too refused to buy those allegations of personal corruption.
The Mishra episode preceded by Vishwas episode have all the ingredients of a potboiler. In his open letter, Mishra challenged Arvind and his ‘five associates’ ( referring to Satyendar Jain, Sanjay Singh, Manish Sisodia, Ashutosh and Ashish Khaitan ) who, he alleged, have ‘broken the faith of the country.’ He promised to take up the fight against Kejriwal’s ‘might, men and money.’ And having realised his fight against Kejriwal did not evince the desired support from within the fold he said he was willing to ‘win the battle or die like Abhimanyu.’
Strong words by a junior former cabinet colleague. Even stronger emotions though the throwback to Mahabharata characters was for dramatic effect to draw eyeballs. But the bigger question is – how did the party reach such a passé in such a short span of time. Whatever happened to a party founded on a strict diet of transparency, integrity and high principles. What is it about the working style of Arvind Kejriwal that makes him a monster in the eyes of his own comrades. These questions beg for an answer.
The list of those whose career with AAP ended with their tiff with the party supremo is long. And it includes some of the co-founders of Aam Aadmi Party. People like Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan, Prof Anand Kumar or even Shazia Ilmi, who were either ingloriously turned out from the party or chose to walk away – some for greener pastures. Kumar Vishwas almost came on the verge of what seemed like another revolt in the making until better sense prevailed and he decided to leave it for some other day.
The bigger question is whose party is it anyway – Arvind Kejriwal’s and his coterie’s ( the five associates as referred by Mishra ) or does it really belongs to as the name suggests - aam aadmi. Is there a divide between aam and khaas within the party. Has AAP travelled away from aam aadmi over the years? Has Kejriwal chosen to run the party as he would his personal fiefdom, disallowing even an alternative view, leave aside dissent. Not even three years into power and the party has slipped from the high-pedestal of being dubbed as the party with a difference to a party with differences.
For how else would one justify Kejriwal’s defence of his cabinet colleague Satyendra Jain who has been accused of corruption many times over. What does it take a kejriwal to retain a person in his cabinet who hires his own daughter as advisor to his ministry despite the Comptroller and Auditor General of India ticking off the government in its report.
There may be no grain of truth in Mishra’s allegations against Kejriwal and one might as well brush it aside as a political stunt or worse that Mishra was executing an opposition gameplan to corner AAP’s convener. But, then, his other allegations regarding funding of foreign tours of Kejriwal’s other cabinet members and the scam behind forged bills seem to stick a while longer. Even Yogendra Yadav is with Mishra on the credibility of these allegations when he said he smelled it long back and brought it to Kejriwal’s notice.
So, is AAP above corruption? Going by the volley of accusations of corruption against some of its leaders, particularly Satyendra Jain who Mishra accused of handing over currency notes-filled bag to Kejriwal, a dubious ‘wheeling-dealing’ he was an eyewitness to, it is but obvious AAP has shed some of its sheen in its fight against corruption.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupt absolutely. The import of this mega quotable quote has never been brought home than in the study of the growth trajectory of Aam Aadmi Party and its surreal quest for power.
The quest for power drove the AAP chieftain mad for more power. But subsequent forays in Punjab, Goa and the municipal elections in Delhi turned into bitter pills Kejriwal was loathe to swallow. In Punjab, for instance, AAP was instrumental in ending the stranglehold of SAD-BJP in the state the party leaders were clearly dejected after the poll outcome and behaved like a party voted out of power.
Accoutability is embedded in power. Transparency is what he fought for in the process of landing himself in the power circuit. But once there, Kejriwal took diagrammatically opposite course. His parameters of corruption changed overnight. His take on Lokayukta ( state ombudsman ) was a much watered-down version of how he had envisaged the Lok Pal bill, picked loopholes in its earlier drafts and fought tooth and nail for an effective Lok Pal.
And now he is on a collision course with the Election Commission of India questioning the credibility of Electronic Voting Machines ( EVMs ). It were the EVMs that brought him to power in 2015 and beeped out Modi’s BJP. But the very EVMs have now got his goat. Why? His party lost in Punjab, Goa and now in Delhi. His innate narcissism prevented him from taking on the loss sportingly. He failed to accept there were merits in opposition’s stratagem to pin him down in the electoral battle in those three states. Therefore, someone will have to be held accountable. So who could that be if not Modi. AAP had the answer - the EVMs.
This is a classic example of what a band of US psychologists discovered in a recent research - motivated reasoning - our tendency to come to conclusions we are already favoured to believe.
Fired by unbridled ambition and relentless drive to expand political contours Kejriwal has stretched the party where the thin thread that binds it together threatens to snap at the slightest tension.
AAP has now become a sum game of all the vices and shortcomings of the polities parties it opposed so fiercely. From AAP to Khaas Aadmi Party ( KHAAP ) it has been quite a descent for Kejriwal. Kapil Mishra and many like him only discovered to their shock that disloyalty to the chieftain and his coterie shall take a toll on aam aadmi.