Updated: May 8, 2017 4:36:10 am
From being one of Arvind Kejriwal’s most celebrated Cabinet colleagues to finding himself isolated following the corruption charges he levelled against the Aam Aadmi Party supremo Sunday, ousted Water Resources and Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra’s fall is as stark as his meteoric rise when the AAP came to power with a thumping victory in 2015.
Mishra rose the ranks as the ‘youth icon’ of the party and held sway not only over his own constituency in Karawal Nagar but the entire city as he reached out through social media platforms and made himself heard on issues concerning the youth.
Portfolios held by Mishra — Water Resources, Tourism, Art, Culture and Languages and Gurdwara Elections — though did not make for a plum assignment, the 37-year-old first-time MLA managed to grab the headlines often as he rolled out initiatives, one after the other.
As the Water Resources minister, Mishra formed a fact-finding committee on the alleged water tanker scam of the previous Sheila Dikshit government. He set out to expand the coverage of piped water across the capital — particularly in parched localities on the fringes where only 10 per cent of the households received piped water supply.
Mishra was credited for rooting out a dominant water tanker mafia, initiating work on a river linking project, pushing through an ambitious initiative to deliver potable tap water, starting the Yamuna aarti on the banks of the polluted river, reviving defunct language academies and starting a new academy for Garhwali and Kumaoni languages. On the tourism front, Mishra pushed for a better ‘nightlife’ in the capital, revived annual culture festivals and sanctioned new projects to bring in biodiversity parks and set up new melting pots.
A vocal Kejriwal loyalist, Mishra often took on the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media. From taking on Mehbooba Mufti in a conference to rushing to the Kashmir University to back agitating students, Mishra was Kejriwal’s trusted foot soldier. He regaled his audience in the Delhi legislative assembly, delivering self-composed couplets as part of his speeches and infusing humour in the humdrum business of the assembly sessions.
Mishra’s grievance redressal of complaints received on social media, especially Twitter, won him much praise from the party leadership. Inflated water bills, poor water supply, problems in availability of water tankers, whatever the grievance might be, Mishra’s prompt responses were held up as examples of good governance by the AAP.
“The party had identified great potential in him and wanted to cultivate him as one of its key leaders. He was doing a good job as an MLA and a minister but just lost the plot at the end. He started feeling that he had become indispensable for the party. After his removal from the Cabinet, he had to get back at the leadership. But his allegations are so absurd that it has backfired and he stands isolated today. Had he levelled allegations against Kejriwal’s coterie instead, like other rebels have done so far, Mishra would have also gotten away with it and won some sympathisers. He went down the wrong road,” said a senior party functionary.
The chasm between Mishra and Kejriwal first appeared when the former openly backed Vishwas, presently being seen as the AAP national convenor’s sole in-house challenger. Mishra, and half a dozen other MLAs, sought a larger role for Vishwas in the party.
After days of unrest playing out in the media, even as Vishwas and Kejriwal shook hands, Mishra felt left out. Dropped from the Cabinet after the reshuffle on Saturday, Mishra lashed out at Kejriwal, questioning the move and claimed that he was the only untainted minister in the cabinet.
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