A ROTTEN ENTERPRISE
Time and again people are cheated. Sellers of a new dream, a better tomorrow turn out to be as bad, if not worse, as the previous lot. Arvind Kejriwal is only the latest in a long series of pretender-messiahs who have taken people for a merry ride. Teeming with corrupt, criminal and opportunistic elements from top to bottom, the Aam Aadmi Party is now indistinguishable from the very parties disgusted with whom the voters in Delhi had only a year ago turned to in droves. Only to be disgusted with its sordid doings.
Yes, politics can be very, very dirty. But if the sexcapade on video involving, of all the people, AAP’s Minister for Women and Child Development Sandeep Kumar is not bad enough, worse is the brazen manner in which Kejriwal seeks to exploit the steamy stuff to burnish his own image. Quite clearly, the AAP supremo has a poor opinion about the collective wisdom of the people. Unmindful that within a short span of 18 months half of his ministers have had to be dumped due to various criminal acts, AAP’s claim to provide a clean government lies fully in tatters. Indeed, another venal minister may have managed to retain his job only because he belongs to the Fuehrer’s inner coterie.
The failure of AAP to provide a modicum of governance in the capital city of India is compounded further by Kejriwal’s vituperative campaign against the constitutional authorities. Instead of functioning within the prescribed constitutional ambit, the Delhi Chief Minister has engaged 24x7 in showboating, constantly picking up fights with the Centre and the designated constitutional authority, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.
Unable to make a tangible difference to the administration, AAP has only resorted to gimmicks, luring the poor with free water and subsidized power without caring to maintain and/or upgrade the civic infrastructure. The recent downpour most starkly brought out the criminal neglect of the elementary duty of de-silting roads, which serve as the main arteries of the city. And these are roads directly under the control of the Delhi Public Works Department and not, as the ever devious Kejriwal would like you to believe, under the BJP-run municipal corporations.
Instead of attending to what is certainly within his remit, Kejriwal is content holding “Modiji” responsible for all the ills of Delhi and beyond. If, however, AAP still enjoys traction in parts of the city, it is due to the licence he seems to have given to the slumlords to expand their business—increasingly you find illegal squatters on premium roads in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi. Of course, the lingering distrust of the older parties which have (mis)ruled for nearly 70 years also helps AAP.
But the rotten AAP enterprise is unlikely to enjoy a further period of grace. Behaving like the proverbial bull in the china shop, and trying to wreck the system from within without providing an iota of evidence as to what will follow in its place, cannot any longer win converts for Kejriwal.
A leader who is uncomfortable with people of genuine integrity and commitment like Yogendra Yadav and Dharamvir Gandhi, and happy supping with all manner of crooks and criminals, cannot inspire confidence. People have seen through Kejriwal’s daily evasions, his feigned act of innocence, sly manner, and, above all, the failure to make a difference in the capital city of India.
It is a clear case of ambition outstripping achievement. Navjot Singh Sidhu forming a new front in Punjab, which is expected to turn into a political platform soon, is going to further blur the electoral scene in the state. Smarting under the impression that mere name-recognition is a sure-shot ticket to the Chief Ministerial gaddi, the former cricketer-turned-politician-turned-television comic seems to have persuaded himself that the Punjabi voter is eagerly waiting for him. He may be in for a huge disappointment.
Several prima donnas bolstered by nothing better than their self-image of being giant killers have come to grief before him. With little or no record of public service despite being a three-time MP, Sidhu cannot expect to conquer Punjab by parachuting into the state on the eve of the election. Whether he was outwitted by the fellow megalomaniac who has a vice-like grip on AAP and instigated him to betray the BJP, which had gone to great lengths to accommodate his tantrums, or it was hubris, is not known.
But there can be no denying that as of now Sidhu’s gamble can only have gladdened the hearts of the incumbent Akali-BJP leaders, who might now find a third straight win in their grasp.
Indeed, with the AAP in Punjab self-destructing itself, and the Congress’ heavy-duty royal, Captain Amarinder Singh, unable to get his act together, the ever resourceful and energetic Sukhbir Badal can yet lead the Akali-BJP combine to victory. This is particularly so because not only did AAP peak early, but Kejriwal’s ambassadors from Delhi believed that they could humiliate seniors like Sucha Singh Chhotepur and others with far more experience and standing without them rebelling.
In any case, it smacks of double standards when Chhotepur is dumped upon his being accused of bribe-taking, but Kejriwal’s subedars from Delhi charged with the same crime are allowed to go scot free. Chhotepur’s only fault seemed to be that he did not protect himself against a sting, while Kejriwal’s trusted agents, veterans of many sting operations, while in Punjab insist on granting audience to ticket-seekers only after making certain that they are not carrying cell phones or pocket spy-pens.
In the AAP toolkit, it seems a cell phone is the most important instrument, very handy in trapping those who are not sufficiently deferential to the Supreme Boss. Chhotepur wanted to be the AAP boss in Punjab. That was his cardinal sin. This party has by only one boss. And his name is Arvind Kejriwal.
FORCED REVIVAL OF OLD TITLES
A small spurt in employment in the media may be on the cards. Thanks to Subramanian Swamy’s exposé of the Gandhis’ real estate heist, a number of long defunct newspapers, whose owners nonetheless pocket huge rents from buildings erected on the highly subsidized lands, now feel legally obliged to revive publication.
The first off the blocks is set to be the National Herald. Never mind the non-existent market for a paper which had ceased to be relevant long before it was finally shuttered down. The Gandhi scion now threatens to publish as many as three titles. At least those who find jobs in these will be entitled to free copies and, thus, might constitute a sizable chunk of their total readership.
Others, fearing the same law, are said to be the old Communist Party rag, Patriot and/or Link, which in order to justify the rental munificence from the Link House on Bahadur Shah Zafar Road, better known as Delhi’s Fleet Street, is planning a rebirth for the dead titles.
Though the maverick Swamy, a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, deservedly gets a lot of stick from the media, at least this time representative bodies of media men ought to fete him for the expected uptick in employment in a largely moribund market.