Delhi’s newly elected Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal may have managed to capture hearts and win votes by offering people-centric governance and politics of hope. But his changing stance on various issues have raised doubts about whether he is actually the political ‘messiah’ India has been waiting for.
From being reluctant on government formation in Delhi to accepting support from the Congress, from denying government bungalows to thinking of shifting to a five-bedroom duplex, from saying no to vote-bank politics to meeting a controversial Muslim cleric, Kejriwal has contradicted himself, made U-turns and dealt with the extremes.
So when, following Aam Aadmi Party’s announcement that it would be contesting Lok Sabha elections, Kejriwal clarified that he would not be contesting for the PM’s post, there were those who wondered if this was another decision that could be overturned by popular demand.
There is a strong reason for such speculation. Here are five instances when the activist-turned-politician Kejriwal failed to stick to a stand.
1. Kejriwal had time and again ruled out taking support of any political party to form the government in Delhi, saying it would prefer to play the role of a “constructive Opposition”. “The results are a message to established political parties like Congress and BJP to change the way they do their politics. If they do not reform, the people will throw them out,” Kejriwal had said after making a spectacular debut in the Assembly elections. He kept repeating that AAP will not take or back support to either Congress or BJP for government formation. However, after Congress offered outside support and AAP held a weeklong ‘referendum’, he did not have a problem going back on his statements and staking claim to form the government.
2. The Delhi Chief Minister and his ministers had refused to stay in government bungalows, a move in line with his resolve to end the VIP culture. Kejriwal had refused to shift to a Type-Seven bungalow for which he was entitled to after having taken oath as the Chief Minister. However, the CM later decided to move to a five-bedroom duplex flat in central Delhi. Kejriwal’s decision was seen in “total contradiction” of AAP’s claim that it will practice austerity. Following the criticism over his ‘contradictory stand’ on plush bungalows, Kejriwal made a U-turn and asked the officials to look for a smaller government house for him.
3. Seeking to send out a message of austerity, Kejriwal chose to take a Metro train to reach Ramlila Maidan for his swearing-in ceremony. In tune with their ‘aam aadmi’ credentials, Kejriwal’s ministers also used public transport on the day of oath taking. However, a day after the AAP government won a trust vote in the Delhi Assembly, AAP ministers were seen coming to the Assembly in official Toyota Innovas. The new CM had downplayed the questions raised by media saying the party never said its ministers will not use official cars. “We just said no to the red beacon,” he clarified.
4. For an individual who always claimed to have entered politics to effect change from within and offered clean, ‘alternative’ and people-centric politics, it would have been hard to explain a meeting with controversial cleric Maulana Tauqueer Raza. This was the same Maulana who had been in the news for announcing a Rs 5-lakh reward for anyone who killed Tasleema Nasreen. The meeting was seen as a move to seek minority votes for AAP, the sort of thing the party had come to eradicate in the first place.
5. While releasing its manifesto last month, AAP had promised to bring the Jan Lokpal, or an anti-corruption ombudsman, within 15 days of assuming power by calling an open session of Delhi assembly. But with AAP being busy making plans for their Lok Sabha debut, the Delhi CM has very little time to keep his promise which was announced on radio multiple times an hour during the election campaign.
Kejriwal’s austerity mantra and plans for a people-centric governance might have helped him make a stunning debut in Delhi, but his flip-flops have also started gnawing away at his image.