The pattern is set: when the election season is around the corner, it is time for the political pundits of “Lutyens’ Delhi" to first declare the election as the “test of indomitability and credence of PM Modi", and then cherry-pick any issue or parameter—from the comforts of their air-cooled chambers—that might go against Modi. The clique then amplifies and propagates it unremittingly and unfettered, for they are the true believers of the Gobblesian technique of repeating a ‘lie’ often enough till it is perceived as truth.
As the Congress continues to ebb electorally, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is looking to spread its wings to Gujarat, Assam, and a few other states, after a stumping victory in Punjab. Gujarat, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) impregnable fortress since 1995, is currently facing political heat over the Assembly polls due by year-end. The schedule for the Gujarat polls is yet to be declared by the Election Commission.
In a spree of visits to Gujarat this year, Arvind Kejriwal is leaving no stone unturned to hit out at the BJP’s 27-year governance in Gujarat. While the Gujarat electorate has time and again reassured its faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies, Arvind Kejriwal, the de-facto leader of the AAP, continues to embarrass himself by repeating the platitude of freebies on a regular basis. This week, Kejriwal was accorded an ugly welcome in the ‘Land of Legends and Lions’, where he was greeted with ‘Modi-Modi’ chants, leaving the ‘muffler-clad’ politician red-faced.
What comes as a little surprise is even less surprising considering the venue: Vadodara airport in Gujarat. Previously, in a closed-room meeting organised by the AAP’s state unit, Kejriwal rhetorically asked, “Free bijli chahiye ki nahi chahiye? (Do you want free bijli or not?)" To his sheer exasperation and excruciating ignominy, the audience unanimously responded, “Nahi," leaving Kejriwal stunned and almost humiliated.
A slew of pre-poll promises have been promised by Arvind Kejriwal in his multiple visits to Gujarat in the recent past, including free electricity up to 300 units for each household per month; a monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 for all women above 18; a waiver of all pending electricity bills issued before December 31, 2021; free power for agriculture; and a monthly allowance of Rs 3,000 for unemployed youth. However, Kejriwal’s freebie cultural gimmick—often his main election plank—won’t survive the turf of Gujarat.
Gujarat, with only 5% of the national population, contributes 7.3% to the national GDP and, being a richly industrialised state, won’t drool in the desperation of freebies, unlike any debt-ridden state.
As witnessed in Punjab, Bhagwat Mann, the ‘puppet CM’ as alleged by the rival parties, made begging trips to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demand a sum of Rs 50,000 crore as the first tranche of a special Rs 1,00,000 crore package for the border state of Punjab, to fulfil Kejriwal’s extravagant promises. The sweeping majority of the AAP is a paradox achieved by calculated flirting with Khalistani sentiments in Punjab and the promise of freebies. This is the Kejriwal model, a model based on unrealisable promises and demagoguery. But lying through his teeth is the least of the concerns for the ideology-free populist, as his PR artillery ensures filling newspaper cover pages and columns with the Delhi government’s ‘yeoman’ efforts in revolutionising the capital state.
Kejriwal, who catapulted to fame and power by targeting the Sheila Dikshit-led Delhi government for corruption, has been promising an honest and corruption-free government in Gujarat. The tragicomedy is that Kejriwal’s own cabinet ministers and confidantes have been marred by serious allegations of corruption. His senior-most minister, Satyendar Jain, is being denied bail by the judiciary in the corruption case where he has been languishing in jail for more than 100 days, albeit, he unabashedly continues to be part of the Delhi cabinet.
Sisodia is enduring severe scrutiny by the country’s premier investigation agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which raided the Deputy Chief Minister’s house, the personage of the ‘India Against Corruption’ protests.
Under the watchful gaze of Kejriwal’s ‘kattar imandaar’ (strictly honest) government, Tahir Hussain is the prime accused in the North-East Delhi violence and the brutal murder of IB staffer Ankit Sharma.
On September 16, the Anti-Corruption Branch arrested Amanatullah Khan, MLA from Delhi’s Okhla constituency. A local court sentenced Khan to five further days in police prison on September 21. Khan was arrested in connection with an investigation into alleged money embezzlement and other irregularities in the operation of the Delhi Waqf Board. In addition, Hamid Ali Khan, Khan’s close aide, said the legislators used to stash guns and cash at his home.
Kejriwal, according to BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, is a “megalomaniac" who considers himself God after capturing power in two states. Patra alleges that he always declares before a state election that his party is winning and that others are intimidated.
Unable to defend his record, the cynical politician has never shied away from crossing boundaries and stooping to the most deplorable levels for his indispensable appetite for power. Seeking votes based on a party member’s caste and forcing members to change names to woo voters have been the polite regressive politics in the AAP’s book of politics.
Not long ago, Kumar Vishwas, one of the founder members of the AAP, took a potshot at Arvind Kejriwal’s hobnobbing with the separatists in Punjab. “One day, he told me, he would either become the CM (of Punjab) or the first PM of an independent nation (Khalistan)," Vishwas said.
While the AAP’s dispensation has tried its level best to tout their image of being an “anti-corruption crusader” and the “party with a difference", their MLA Atishi Marlena, speaking at a talk organised by Jamia Collective, an Islamic organisation, advised voters to vote for goons just to keep the BJP out of power.
Atishi said, “Aankh band karke gundo ko vote karo because this is an election jahan par BJP ko harana zaroori hai."
With such unrelenting and insatiable hunger for the seat of power, what they preach and profess seems hypocricy of the highest order!
Gopal Goswami is a social thinker, research scholar and writer. He tweets with @gopalgiri_uk