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Threatening to quit to stay in power won't work for Kejriwal in the long run

Threatening to quit to stay in power won't work for Kejriwal in the long run

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had threatened to quit if the Jan Lokpal Bill was not passed in the Assembly.

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is a very unusual politician. Unlike his counterparts in other states, who want to survive at any cost, he threatens to quit almost every day. Sometimes he threatens to quit thrice a day. To any question, his standard answer is, "I am not here for power. I am ready to quit any time."

He is now threatening to quit over the Jan Lokpal Bill, which he is planning to table before the Delhi Assembly this week. The Congress, which is backing his government with its 8 MLAs, has expressed its unwillingness to back it in its present form. Two other MLAs supporting him are also changing their stand every day. The expelled AAP MLA, Vinod Kumar Binny, is demanding the ouster of Kejriwal. With the Speaker, the total strength of AAP has come down to 27 members in a 70-member state assembly.

The Kejriwal government can survive only if the BJP with its 32 MLAs backs him. In a tweet, the Leader of Opposition Dr Harshvardhan has asked Kejriwal to stop his 'drama'. He said, "BJP will not allow Arvind Kejriwal to resign and run away. We are committed to fight corruption and support Jan Lokpal.Send a copy to us."

Harshvardhan's tweet has created more troubles for Kejriwal. He can't run away saying that he does not have the majority to pass the Bill and blame the BJP and Congress for the collapse of his government. His one time guru Anna Hazare has also asked Kejriwal to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill.

But, it is not as easy as it seems. Kejriwal will have to follow the Constitution and make sure that he will not violate the laid down rules. The legal fraternity is also sharply divided over the issue. Some say the Delhi government can pass the Jan Lokpal Bill without the prior clearance of the Lieutenant Governor. But, the others argue that the consent of Lieutenant Governor is mandatory before it is tabled before the Assembly. Either way the matter is likely to go to the Supreme Court, if the Bill is cleared.

Even if Kejriwal survives the Jan Lokpal row, he will have to face many such major and minor issues on a daily basis. He is struggling to strike a balance between the two exactly opposite vote banks.

Kejriwal's backing of the auto drivers in Delhi has already angered the middle class voters. They feel that the AAP government is encouraging harassment of passengers by openly batting for the auto drivers. The auto drivers who took on the Sheila Dikshit government and fully backed the AAP in the assembly polls are now demanding their pound of flesh. The AAP needs both of them in the Lok Sabha polls.

Kejriwal is also trying very hard to pacify the angry contractual government employees. The AAP manifesto promised regularisation of their jobs. After taking charge the government realised that it is not going to be very easy to make them permanent. The government is now buying time telling them that it will have to follow the due procedure.

The common voters are also angry with the government's not so clear stand on water and electricity. Their patience is wearing thin. In the meantime, the AAP has to prepare itself for the Lok Sabha polls.

Kejriwal himself may contest. If he decides to do so, then who will run the Delhi government, if at all the government survives till the Lok Sabha elections?

According to some Congress and BJP leaders, Kejriwal wants them to topple his government and he feels that it will give him an escape route. Because of that, both of them want to continue in power till the Lok Sabha polls to 'expose' the AAP government.

The proposed Jan Lokpal Bill would be an acid test for the AAP in Delhi. Success or failure of it will decide the future of the AAP and Kejriwal. Kejriwal's statement 'I am ready to quit' now sounds like a cliché. Instead of shocking the people, it is now leading to sarcasm these days. Some even say, Kejriwal is talking like a true politician by threatening to quit every day. But, it won't work for him in the long run.

first published:February 10, 2014, 13:48 IST