The very basis of Aam Adami Party’s formation was the movement against corruption led by octogenarian Gandhian activist Anna Hazare. While Hazare, a grassroots activist, had no political ambition, his ally, Arvind Kejriwal joined the movement with clear political goals and took the movement to a political level with the formation of the AAP in November 2012. This was a political opportunity and Kejriwal grabbed with both hands. The Aam Aadmi Party as a political start-up was certainly a glamorous one. It was then the social media favourite, the new age revolution, the beacon of urban politics, and the anchor of the young and the restless who were fed up with corruption and cynicism. The party focussed on the mobilisation of Delhi’s urban dwellers for the establishment of a new anti-corruption ombudsman known as the Lokpal. The meteoric rise of the AAP created excitement in the country, to an extent that Arvind Kejriwal was declared Delhi’s Harry Potter, wielding a broom, out setting the corrupt out of power. However, the truth of the matter is that that Anna Hazare was used by that cunning, crafty and overambitious Artful Dodger (Charles Dickens Oliver Twist character), Arvind Kejriwal, to hoodwink the gullible people of Delhi for his own political interest.
Ever since its emergence, AAP has tried to place itself on the exalted pedestal as a party that is clean and corruption free and was eying to place itself to lead the disunited opposition in 2024 against the BJP. However, truth is like light, it can never be hidden, It’s just a matter of time. Destiny had other plans as the AAP today has been shaken to its foundation when two of its senior most leaders – Minister of Home, Health & Family welfare, and Industries, Satyendra Jain and the AAP number two-man, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, also minister of finance, education, higher education, excise, etc. have been probed by the ED and CBI. While the former was arrested in a money laundering case; CBI is currently probing alleged irregularities in implementation of Kejriwal government’s new excise policy and has named Sisodia who holds Excise portfolio, as one of the accused in its FIR. The agency had also conducted raid at the Deputy CM’s residence. Considering AAP’s previous trajectory, it’s no longer shocking to see that Kejriwal who came to power on the pretext of fighting corruption, today his own party government is involved in one scam after the other and are neck deep in corruption. He was forced to sack at least two ministers of his previous cabinet who were involved in debauchery and forgery. Since democratic institutions are set up to reward electability and not wisdom, we get leaders who are electable but lack acumen. The AAP’s newly elected govt in Punjab is no exception to it’s ‘Delhi Model.’
The hypocrisy of the man is further evident from the fact on one hand he proclaims to make Punjab drug free, his party has been establishing a slew of liquor shops in Delhi, their number has increased from 250 to 850. In addition, the new liquor policy of the AAP government paves way for home delivery of liquor and reduces the dry day from twenty-one to three in a year, setting stage for making Delhi the ‘Booze Capital of India’.
For someone whose party currently rules one urban half-state and another agricultural one, Kejriwal seems to harbour dreams of making it to the top of the political totem pole, when he has nothing more than ‘freebies’ to offer as his political hallmark. The victories of AAP in Delhi and now in Punjab has been attributed to this Revdi culture. The debate on politicians handing out and promising ‘freebies’ has recently gained momentum, highlighting the risks it poses to a state’s economy, an issue currently being contested in the Apex Court, with several political parties pleading their case. Considering the gravity of the situation, the Supreme Court has directed listing the plea against the practice of political parties promising pre-election freebies before a three-judge bench, saying it appeared the issues raised before it requires an “extensive” hearing. AAP on the other hand, tried to defend its politics of freebies by weaving a narrative around ‘free healthcare’ and ‘free education’ as part of nation-building. However, the problem is about AAP’s politics of free revdies viz, free transportation, electricity, and free water, not only this places an unsustainable burden on the government finances, causing a reduction of funds for capacity building and infrastructural development, it also results in several second- and third-order effects due to the price distortion. No doubt the poor need to be fed but public welfare needs to be balanced because the economy is losing money due to freebies. Like China, Kejriwal too has expansionist agenda, but what seems to be worked in Delhi and Punjab; if pushed further may lead to bankruptcy in other states.
Equally worrying has been AAP’s courting of extremist elements for the sake of votes. In AAP’s case, though the party is neither a regional outfit nor is it founded on the principles of an ideology like communism, however, with the encouragement from Kejriwal, AAP has form alliances with almost every single extremist element in each region. From fielding extremist candidates to describing the Batla House encounter as fake to its forays into the Khalistani movement, AAP has built alliances not based on ideology, but on calculations aimed at electoral politics and funding. In fact, after the Aam Aadmi Party’s clean sweep in Punjab in the 2022 Assembly elections, the banned Khalistani organization Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) had written a letter to the now, Punjab Chief Minister and AAP leader Bhagwant Mann requesting that AAP allow a Khalistani referendum. Also, the Aam Aadmi Party, along with other opposition parties such as the Congress, supported the ‘farmers’ protest at the Singhu border against the Central government’s farm laws, which was hijacked by certain elements. The backing from the opposition parties complicated the whole situation immensely, but it helped AAP in winning Punjab.
Furthermore, Arvind Kejriwal and his party’s close nexus with separatists, who have advocated the secession of Punjab with the support of Pakistan, is yet another proof of the party’s anti-India mindset. Prior to this, the AAP supremo had tried his best to shield and protect members of the tukde-tukde gang like Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya after they were arrested on charges of sedition for raising slogans, challenging the Indian State’s sovereignty. The AAP government, on its part, kept procrastinating and delaying the process of grant of sanctions to prosecute former JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, radical Islamist Umar Khalid and others in a sedition case. Kejriwal has played the lowest ever politics when it comes to our security services capabilities. Instead of rallying support during Pulwama attack, he peddled a conspiracy theory. Even in the wake of surgical strikes carried by our brave hearts instead of applauding the unsurmountable courage demonstrated by our security forces he demanded proofs that surgical strikes occurred.
Though Arvind Kejriwal has spent the last few years flaunting his own and his party’s Hindu credentials, but his past several deeds like opposing jobs for Kashmiri Hindus, opposing the CAA, raising questions on Ram Mandir, sheltering anti-Hindu Delhi riots kingpins Tahir Husain, Sharzil Imam and Amanatullah Khan, demolishing old Hanuman temple in Chandni Chowk, reluctance on making Kashmir files tax free, to name a few, have gone on to openly display Kejriwal’s anti-Hindus mentality. Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party has always been at the forefront of providing tactical support to any type of protest or violence against Hindus. The anti CAA protests in 2020, which ultimately culminated in the anti-Hindu riots in Delhi in February 2020, was a clear manifestation of planned genocide against Hindus living in the Muslim-dominated areas. Whether its riots in Northeast Delhi, Jahangir puri, or vandalism of the national capital on the Republic Day it’s AAP approach to incite anarchy and orchestrate riots to gain political advantage.
The way Corona pandemic was handled says a lot about the capabilities/ preparedness of the government. The whole point of a lockdown was to prepare the medical infrastructure for the coming onslaught of Covid-19 patients. Delhi wasted its lockdown. All that suffering the city went through was pointless. All those labourers who were being fired from their jobs and leaving for home – they needn’t have gone through all that pain. June 2021, Delhi was in the thick of community transmission. Hapless citizens had to run from pillar to post, first to get a test, then to get a hospital bed, then to get a funeral. Kejriwal led AAP government had made data fudging central to his Covid-19 policy, instead of focussing on improving the situation and providing adequate medical facilities it relied on lies. But statistics and white lies cannot hide death piles.
AAP post its second victory in Delhi witnessed the rise of the personality cult around and the centralisation of decision-making powers in the hands of Kejriwal. His once allies left him at regular intervals or purged of due to his self-centric/ dictatorial attitude. Also, subsequent electoral campaigns revealed that the party has become captive to Kejriwal centric approach. Since taking over the leadership of Delhi, Kejriwal has proven himself to be a petty, out-of-focus narcissist who thrives for the next dopamine hit through war of words. Evidence of which can be seen in the large number of defamation suits filed against him, while mudslinging on PM or LG seems to be his routine affair. Further, the cry bully attitude, evading accountability by simply claiming intimidation has been a trademark of his lack lustre governance. If he wins with big numbers, it’s his own personal victory. If he loses, it’s always EVM or some vendetta against him. Over the last nine years, Arvind Kejriwal presided over a politics of immense negativism, of lethargy, stink, and rot, of forever passing the buck, with zero vision to take India ahead, of plain political manipulation, against which he was chosen by the people of Delhi in the first place.
AAP’s landslide victory in Delhi (2015 and 2020) and in Punjab (2022) elections had undoubtedly provided it with a necessary platform to expand and capitalize its nationwide reach. However, to build a national presence, the party needs to deliver not just on governance in one or two states but also articulate a clear ideology and raise regional leaders. As things stand now, the AAP has failed miserably on both accounts. It could at best be called a party with a bleak urban appeal and limited ability to challenge the larger national and regional parties in the future. There is always a thin line between the making and the unmaking of a revolution and as AAP stands today, it seems the unmaking has begun. When AAP was founded, people spoke about finally cleaning up politics and raising the standards. If anything, on this count, AAP has lowered the bar considerably especially after the corruption charges surfaced against its leaders from time to time. Thus, the self-created halo as corruption-free party was all bunkum. It’s no longer the NAYAK of Indian Polity, rather it may be referred to a party of petty reactionaries who did not understand the implications of their actions and has been exposed.