Once more, with feeling, Arvind Kejriwal is offering to take the helm of Delhi, which should be heading for an election sooner rather than later. The Aam Aadmi Party has stepped into the breach with the “Kejriwal Firse (Kejriwal Again)” campaign, which will highlight the achievements of his short-lived government and the individual exploits of its 27 MLAs. While the once and perhaps future chief minister of Delhi is being promoted on YouTube and via a Twitter handle named @KejriwalFirse, the campaign on the ground will be very local.
But to the children of Anna Hazare’s movement, the core constituency of true believers that Kejriwal inherited when he formed the AAP, the promise of his return could sound like a threat. This was the enlightened middle class in search of a decent and decently run India in which they would feel more at home. To them, Kejriwal’s abdication from the office of chief minister had felt like a great betrayal. Today, that constituency has shifted its allegiance to Narendra Modi, who has snatched the broom out of the AAP’s hands with the Swachh Bharat campaign. He promises the very same thing, a decent life, but couched in different terms, via efficient government, growth and development.
The AAP’s new core constituency is located slightly lower down in the class hierarchy. They are the unskilled and semi-skilled workers who used to walk into the party’s offices in its heyday to offer micro-donations, and thereby gained a sense of belonging. But for the bulk of the middle class, Kejriwal Again sounds like a preposterous threat. They have not got over the revolutionary eccentricities of the AAP — the impractical pursuit of direct democracy, Somnath Bharti’s racist vigilantism and, of course, the bizarre spectacle of Chief Minister Kejriwal on protest outside Rail Bhavan. They are unlikely to want seconds.