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DC Edit | Kejriwal's toughest challenge, or big opportunity?


Published on: April 16, 2023 | Updated on: April 16, 2023

Arvind Kejriwal (PTI file image)

At the peak of their chess careers, several world champions and legends partake in simultaneous chess, an exhibition format of the game in which several players of regional or master level take on a great at the same time. The champion moves from board to board quickly, makes a move, and goes around the circle, coming back to each player, who meanwhile, has all the time to focus on only one game.

Very often, the world champion, with the extraordinary memory of all games simultaneously in mind, moves from board to board, and yet vanquishes most of his opponents. It is rare for the player rated notches below the champ to score a victory.

There is a great similarity to simultaneous chess in India’s political games. Like great chess champions down history, Mikhail Tal, Bobby Fischer, Gary Kasparov or Viswanathan Anand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is playing the game against several players — Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, M.K. Stalin, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray, Nitish Kumar and K. Chandrashekar Rao — and today was the moment when Mr Modi’s move has thrown the limelight on Arvind Kejriwal.

The Opposition has called this gambit the unspoken Emergency, an autocracy, where the BJP government is misusing Central investigative agencies, including the CBI, the ED and IT, to intimidate and arm-twist leaders who have been critical of Mr Modi into silence. The BJP, led by Mr Modi, has called this gambit a decisive war on corruption and family-ruled parties, and a major obstacle to development and India’s rise as a superpower.

Mr Kejriwal is one of the most alarmingly rising Opposition leaders, whose Aam Aadmi Party has quickly become a recognised national party, with two state governments, and functional if not effective or strong units in several other states. Unlike regional parties like the DMK or TMC or Shiv Sena, its genetic makeup being national, the AAP can quickly move to other states and build itself. Its core mantra was clean politics, and its leaders, being newcomers, did not suffer from the legacy weaknesses of other parties, being neither family-driven nor corrupt.

The alleged Delhi liquor policy scam is the biggest challenge facing Mr Kejriwal, and being summoned by the Central Bureau of Investigation, even if only as a witness and not an accused, has robbed the party of certain moral sheen. However, Arvind Kejriwal and AAP, being the dexterous and astute political players, have already set a good position board.

Mr Kejriwal has called for a special session of the Delhi Assembly tomorrow, so that if he speaks there, he has legislative immunity. The CBI and ED are under pressure to make a good case because it not only helps put AAP on a terrible backfoot against Mr Modi and the BJP, but also corners the Bharat Rashtra Samithi in Telangana.

If he is arrested, Mr Kejriwal will be an uncommon CM to be probed and arrested while in office, which will mean that, like his deputy Manish Sisodia, or his minister Satyendar Jain, he might have to resign. While only time will tell who will emerge victorious in this particular face-off, the game is tough for both parties.