Pentapati Pullarao – Like the famous Halley’s Comet, which comes once every 75 years near earth, Kejriwal was like Halley’s comet in politics. Arvind Kejriwal burned bright in the last 2 months and is now at the crossroads. What the future holds none can say. No one expected him to become the Chief Minister of Delhi. That itself was the greatest shock for Indian politics. The BJP and the Congress have dominated Delhi since Independence. Yet, Kejriwal ousted both of them. He defeated the sitting chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit. These are extraordinary feats. He has not a rich man or a dynast. He had no party organization. Yet, he won the most prestigious Chief Ministership of the country.
Kejriwal could have carried on as Chief Minister for a full 5 years. Yet, he seemed more interested in challenges . He was also sharp enough to understand that both BJP and the Congress would like him to politically destroy him and get back to the comfortable two-party system. Kejriwal wanted to survive and yet challenge both BJP and Congress. This was very difficult task. The Congress and the BJP would taunt him every day that his promises are not kept. In fact, these taunts made Kejriwal more alert . The great French Emperor Napoleon used to say “ Never interrupt an opponent when is committing a mistake “. The constant criticism of Kejriwal made him extremely alert . We should never underestimate a man who became Chief Minister of Delhi.
Achievement of Kejriwal as chief Minister in 49 days :
a. Kejriwal abolished the Lal-Bathi ( VIP culture ) in Delhi. He did not use huge convoys and traveled in his own car . He avoided big ceremonies and did not assume the airs of a King of Delhi. He ordered all officials of Delhi and Ministers remove red beacons on their cars . Kejriwal also showed simplicity and set an example . This is something people of Delhi appreciate .
b. Kejriwal was clever enough to fulfill two campaign pledges within the first week of becoming Chief Minister The BJP and Congress were taunting him on how he would never fulfill promises of cheaper power and free water. He immediately gave a subsidy on power and also gave free water of 666 litres per day . In one shot, he fulfilled two major promises.
c. Delhi Police and Safety : It is not generally known that Delhi police Commissioner is under the Government of India and not controlled by the Delhi Government. On some law and order issues, Chief Minister Kejriwal went on a Dharna which was widely criticized. But by his Dharna,Kejriwal educated everyone in Delhi that Delhi police are not under him and he cannot be blamed for lack of safety and violence etc. In any event, the police are un-popular in Delhi and admired Kejriwal for attacking them.
d. Kejriwal promised during elections that he would control the private power supply companies. High power bills were a problem in Delhi. Kejriwal alleged that Sheila Dikshit had corrupt dealings with power companies and that is why the tariff was high. He demanded private power companies be audited by the CAG. When he became Chief Minister, he met the CAG and got an audit started of the power companies. Sheila Dikshit had signed an agreement with giant companies that they will get an assured return of 18% on their investment and that costs would not be audited. The companies put costs as they liked and then added 18%. Kejriwal said the companies exaggerated costs and loot the public. This was a major achievement.
e. Kejriwal filed an Fir against Ministers and Reliance:
Kejriwal field a police complaint of cheating and fraud against Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily, Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani and others for having raised gas prices which affected costs of power. Kejriwal used the complaint of noted people who raised these issues. The FIR was found to be legally correct and action can be taken to arrest the Minister and Ambani on cheating and fraud .Therefore, Central Government had to rush to the Supreme Court to get a Stay. Naturally, people are happy that big people are getting in trouble. Ordinary people in India feel very happy when big industrialists and Ministers get into trouble.
f. Ministers accessible to people ;
In the 49 days of Kejriwal’s government, the Ministers were accessible to people. They did not get spoilt yet. The time was too short for temptations to work. If the tenure was longer, they might also have started heir corruption. But they were too fresh and people felt they were doing their best. The people feel that BJP and Congress were spoiling their work. The dress,language and style of Ministers were like a common man. In comparison, the Congress and BJP ministers looked like lords.
g. Kejriwal attacking Modi and Rahul Gandhi :
Kejriwal had only 28 MLAs out of 70. He had no Muslim MLAs. But in the last 49 days, the Minorities started coming to him in big way. Kejriwal and his party attacked the BJP and MOdi vociferously. This immediately attracted the Minorities. It is now a fact that large number of Muslims will vote for Kejriwal in Delhi and other places. He gave the impression that he was above caste and religion. His Dalit base has grown. Similarly, his attacks on the Congress, though it was supporting him, made the middle classes very happy. In the last 49 days, Kejriwal expanded his social base and he is very much a possibility for the Muslims. They also liked the things he did and the way he comported himself as Chief Minister. His simplicity endeared him to them. They were ready to forgive his mistakes.
h. Kejrwal has become a national figure:
Kejriwal’s stunning electoral performance in Delhi has made him a hero all over the country. People want to participate in politics, but all political parties are closed shops. You can vote for them or give them money. But you cannot become a leader or be active without the express permission of the leaders . They are like private clubs. Kejriwal’s party was an open shop. You required only a cap to become an AAM ADMI leader. In Andhra, we have had the Lok Satta, which tried many things. Sadly it did not succeed. It failed because it was also a closed shop unlike Kejriwal. Kejriwal developed thousands of leaders all over the country by giving them freedom. Anyone can join Kejriwal and work independently. Will Lok Satta and other parties allow it ? An AAM Admi supportercould do what he wants.That was the magical attraction of Kejriwal’s party. Anyone can go to a TV Talk show and support the AAM ADMI Party. This freedom gave immense strength and every supporter felt it was his own party. Kejriwal created a huge stock of leaders and supporters all over the country. Other parties can learn from this system if they want to survive.
i. Excellent media management :
If you look at the dozens of media spokespersons of AAM Admi party on TV, you will find they are young and fresh looking. They speak sweetly and look innocent in their caps. Look at the spokespersons of other parties. They all look like rich lawyers, hired for a job. They all look smug, cunning and insulting. The Aam Admi party outplayed the entre political establishment with their natural style in the media. They got sympathy with their caps, innocent looks and simplicity. The smug expressions and behavior of the media spokespersons of established parties is a contrast. Simplicity and innocent looks can take you far, at least for some time and they did it for the AAm Admi party.
The future for Kejriwal :
Everyone in politics is totally puzzled. They can never understand how a phenomena like Kejriwal has arrived. There have been many rebels before. But they have been tamed by time and mistakes. The Indian establishment is so strong that it co-opts any rebel. Whether it be Maoists or North East separatists, eventually the Indian system wins them over. But in the last 3 years, Arvind Kejriwal has survived. All kinds of efforts have been made to destroy him and his reputation. But there has been no success.
When he floated a political party, wise men said that it would be his death. His old Guru Anna Hazare distanced himself from Kejriwal thinking that he is finished. It was Kejriwal who made Anna Hazare famous in India. But Anna Hazare also miscalculated the luck and skills of Kejriwal. When Kejriwal won the elections and formed the government , Anna was very angry and jealous. But slowly, being a shrewd man, Anna Hazare has came around. Now Anna hazare is also supporting Arvind kejriwal since he says that the Jan lokPal bill is very good for the country. Anna Hazare’s support will create a lot of media support.
The Lok Sabha elections of 2014 will be a test. There will be simultaneous Assembly elections to the Delhi State assembly. Arvind Kejriwal looks set to improve his tally of 28 out of 70 in the Delhi assembly. The people of Delhi as in the rest of India are very angry with all established political parties. Their anger will create support for Kejriwal.
With regard to Parliament seats, one must remember that in cities a large number of Kejriwal supporters are also supporters of Narendra Modi. Therefore, Kejriwal might not make it that big in Parliament elections. But if Kejriwal can get at least 6 % of the votes in 4 states, then his Aam Admi party will get National status and become a national political party. At the same time, if he can win the Delhi assembly elections, then his presence will create major problems for established political parties.
Kejriwal has taught Indians that a newcomer can defeat the mighty Indian political giants. This is an example which is being watched all over the country. Change might come about in India as the urban population is increasing. Such change will definitely affect established political parties. In front of Kejriwal, they look like deer caught in the headlights of a car in the night. they just do not know what to do. The final chapter of the story of Kejriwal has not yet been written. Interesting times are ahead.