Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal might have ended his 33-hour protest claiming ‘victory’ for the people of Delhi, but the dramatic turn of events has raised questions about Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its top leader’s style of functioning.
Hours after the Raisina protests turned violent, Kejriwal, who on Monday defiantly called himself an “anarchist”, had to call off his protest agreeing to the compromise formula aimed at resolving the face-off between the police and AAP supporters. Incidentally, just hours before he had refused to end his protest and even threatened to disrupt Repulic Day celebrations by flooding Rajpath with “lakhs of supporters”.
Kejriwal’s sit-in outside Rail Bhawan, to protest against the alleged inaction by Delhi Police officials, and the resultant face-off between demonstrators and the police ultimately ending in a compromise formula has not gone down well with the party members and supporters.
Chetan Bhagat, who has often spoken in favour of AAP, went to the extent of calling the party an “item girl of politics”. The author said he was “ashamed” that they had resorted to such an action.
Political communication consultant Nishant said it is nothing new for protests and political rallies to cause inconvenience to the people.
“Since AAP has almost promised the moon to the aam aadmi, they expect a certain Utopian conduct from them. However, a CM sitting on a dharna, sleeping on the roads, raising slogans, is definitely something unusual and hence raised more eyebrows,” added the AAP supporter.
Former Karnataka Lok Ayukta and India Against Corruption core committee member Santosh Hegde condemned Kejriwal’s act of violating prohibitory orders, which he said had been made worse by the fact that he is the chief minister and he has been inciting others to do so too.
While Hegde has parted ways with Kejriwal, it was more surprising that new AAP members like entrepreneur Captain G R Gopinath thought Kejriwal must govern from their office. “Asking Delhi Police to be under the chief minister is as bad as keeping its allegiance to the home minister,” he said. Closer home, AAP MLA Vinod Kumar Binny has already accused the party of “cheating” the people of Delhi by backtracking on its election promises and called Kejriwal a “dictator”.
If Twitter can be considered a good dipstick for public opinion, then the middle class seem to be losing their faith in India’s latest political experiment. As hashtags like #AAPDrama #AAPanarchy started trending, academic and writer Madhu Kishwar, who now supports right wing politics, tweeted: “#AAPDrama Kejriwal violated more laws than Bharti, incldg sedition. Why is he being spared similar scrutiny as Bharti? AAP shd be dismissed!” (sic)
Controversial writer Tasleema Nasreen also took to Twitter to slam the AAP. “AAP is endorsing sexism and racism. So scary. Losing hope,” she wrote on the micro-blogging site.
All is not lost, but it is about time the party starts doing things that will improve its image than make its supporters doubt if this experiment is going to work. The first few hiccups might be just the new outfit’s attempts to gain a footing in politics and understand the challenges of being on the other side. But they must remember that all eyes are literally on them, not just in Delhi.