In 'United Opposition' Dream, Arvind Kejriwal Is A Political Pariah
The bonhomie that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal shares with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is missing when it comes to other leaders and parties in the opposition spectrum.
File photo of Aam Aadmi Party chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.
New Delhi: Counting for the Bawana Assembly by-poll was not even complete and it was clear that the Aam Aadmi Party was going to win. The AAP's lead was unassailable. Soon after, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted to her counterpart in Delhi, "Congratulations @ArvindKejriwal and @AamAadmiParty for winning #BawanaByPoll." Kejriwal tweeted back to her, saying, "Thank u Didi."
But the bonhomie that Kejriwal shares with Banerjee is missing when it comes to other leaders and parties in the opposition spectrum. When Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi called for a meeting of opposition leaders to decide a 'consensus candidate' for the Presidential elections, there was one significant omission in the guest list – Arvind Kejriwal. When RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav held a massive show of strength with his anti-BJP rally, Kejriwal was not invited. The message seems to be clear: Arvind Kejriwal finds no place in this dream of a 'unite opposition'. Except for Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal seems largely friendless.
'A loose cannon'
The Aam Aadmi Party is fighting many battles on many fronts. On one hand, the party is taking on the BJP in the hope of emerging as a national alternative some day. On the other, it is attacking Congress ruled governments in states like Punjab. It is this unpredictability that makes other political parties stay away from the mercurial AAP chief. “He (Kejriwal) is a loose cannon. He may ally with us today but may speak out against us tomorrow. He is too ambitious. He will never accept the leadership of the Congress, even though he is a minor regional player himself. We allied with him in 2013 and he walked out in 49 days. All these factors make him a very unreliable ally. In any possible Mahagathbandhan, Kejriwal and AAP would end up being a liability," a senior Delhi Congress leader said.
A BJP leader added, “There is an unspoken understanding among all political parties. No matter what the equation is, keep this man (Kejriwal) out." We couldn't care less, says AAP
While the opposition is not keen on joining hands with Kejriwal, AAP leaders say this actually suits them. "We are not at all bothered about whether Congress wants us to join them or not. Honestly, we couldn't care less. This actually suits us because we have built our party on a strong anti-corruption movement. We are the outsiders who are upsetting the established order. They are bound to get upset,” said an AAP MLA.
He added, "The Congress is only interested in saving themselves. We are interested in saving democracy. Why did they not speak up when we were raising the EVM issue? They don't have a constructive message. They only react and lash out. Besides, it would not be honest of us to join hands with them after attacking them. We can’t keep attacking Congress in Punjab and joining hands with them nationally. We can’t say we are against corruption and share the stage with Lalu. We don't have to condone the corruption of the Congress to fight the fascism of the BJP."
'AAP in no hurry to have a PM'
So if AAP doesn't join the 'Mahagathbandhan', where does it leave the infant party ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections? "We will fight the elections alone. We don't need anybody," a party source said. "AAP is in no hurry to have a PM from our own party. We are the fastest growing party in India. We will be patient and grow the way we have been growing. There could be an AAP PM in 2024, 2029 or even later. We are a young party and there is no need for us to be so worried about 2019."
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