You may disagree with his modus operandi, dislike his from the core of your heart, but you can’t ignore him: that is the message Delhi chief minister and Aam aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal seems to have sent across the political spectrum of the country, ahead of the crucial national vote, says Prachita Jaitley
Kejriwal’s statement that “I am an anarchist” not only baffled politicians from the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party, but also his admirers in the media and the civil society. They wondered how an income tax-officer-turned-politician could become a source of inconvenience to the very aam aadmi who voted him to power less than a month back.
It was literally a government working from Delhi streets when Kejriwal and his ministers were spotted signing files from the site of a protest demonstration in Delhi. Demanding the suspension of five Delhi police cops, who they believed had refused to act in public interest, Kejriwal and AAP supporters filled the streets of national capital, braving winter chill and rains.
But as Kejriwal has called off his stir – after an appeal by Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung – the federal government’s representative in Delhi – perceptions have started to change.
As Jung sent the two of the five cops, who the protesters wanted suspended for dereliction of duty, “on leave”, Kejriwal told his cheering supporters that it was a “people’s victory”.
Earlier, Jung had appealed to the Chief Minister to withdraw the protest dharna “in view of the sacrosanct occasion of the Republic Day and the perceived security situation.”
“The Judicial enquiry earlier ordered by the Hon’ble LG would be expedited. In the meanwhile, the SHO Malviya Nagar and In-charge of the Paharganj PCR Van will be on leave,” Jung’s office said in a statement.
Demanding more control over police in Delhi, which comes under the command of the federal government, Kejriwal stood his ground despite media and politicians accusing him of taking to unconstitutional methods. Some politicians and commentators even accused of him being an “irresponsible leader”, but that failed to cower down the AAP leader.
He stood his ground, slept on the road along with his supporters on Monday night. Because of his protest, four metro stations were shut and public transport was disrupted. Many AAP supporters and policemen were injured in clashes on Tuesday.
The street protest by Kejriwal against the federal government is the first one in India’s history by a chief minister.
“Some people say that I am an anarchist and I am spreading disorder. I agree that I an anarchist. I am India’s biggest anarchist,” he told reporters.
This prompted many critics, the media and even some supporters to wonder whether the street-fighting activist needs to mature into a more responsible leader.
But Kejriwal who made a resounding debut in the recently concluded Delhi assembly elections, seems to have struck a chord, once again, with the aam aadmi.
Many believe that the Delhi police is massively corrupt and there is an urgent need to rein them. Kejriwal’s protest, they say, is genuine and need of the hour. This, critics say, could translate into more votes for the Aam Aadmi Party when it takes its first plunge into the country’s Lok Sabha elections, which are just months away.
Another feather in Kejriwal’s cap, analysts believe, is that he is going to do what Congress and the BJP have long demanded. What their constitutional methods couldn’t achieve, Kejriwal’s anarchist street fighting could, they say.
Kejriwal, with these actions, may sound priggish, but what matters at the end of the day is what you achieve. And Kejriwal seems closer to achieving what the Congress and the BJP couldn’t so far.