It is difficult to imagine that a self-styled “social reformer”, riding on high moral ground with a promise to not only cleanse the Indian polity but also bring about a paradigm shift in it, can have such a fall. AAP supremo and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who fired the imagination of the nation with his highfalutin talk on corruption, has slid into the quagmire of sleazy politics in rather a short period.
Former Delhi minister Kapil Mishra has opened the pandora’s box by alleging that Mr Kejriwal had accepted Rs 2 crores from Satyendar Jain in his presence. Allegations, no doubt, need to be proved, but Mr Kejriwal too has been levelling allegations against leaders of other parties, and has been even jailed in a defamation case filed by Nitin Gadkari.
People with high moral standing are expected to resign once they come under a cloud. Many leaders have resigned from political posts when they were chargesheeted in the hawala scam, though it did not stand scrutiny in the court later on.
Till now, Mr Kejriwal has not been chargesheeted in any case, but Mr Mishra has handed over documents that substantiate his claims to the CBI for an inquiry. It is too early to predict what the CBI will do and the authenticity of these documents, but Mr Kejriwal must be above suspicion irrespective of the fact whether or not the charges are proved because he has fixed a different yardstick of political morality.
Even the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler, who made a volte face from their stated positions, remained free from the taint of corruption. Napoleon gave the first republican constitution to France but as he got powerful, he declared himself Emperor. He invited the Pope for his coronation to bequeath legitimacy to his rule. When the Pope was about to crown him, Napoleon got so impatient that he snatched the crown from the Pope and put it on his head himself.
Hitler came to power by discrediting all leaders and parties but once elected, he ruled the Nazi Party autocratically by declaring himself the Fuhrer, or absolute ruler. This principle demanded total obedience of subordinates as he conceived the government to be like a pyramid, with him being right at the top. He was so insecure that he encouraged distrust, rivalry and infighting in the ranks to enjoy unquestioned authority.
When Mr Kejriwal talked of shifting the political paradigm during the early days of his political activism, he stressed on doing away with the high command culture. Ironically, he became the highest command in his own party. Nothing moves in his party without his nod; dissent has no place. Going against his stated position that he would not hold any constitutional position himself, he grabbed the post of chief minister at the first instance of winning the election, but did not resign from the post of national convenor of his party defying the principle of one-man, one-post. Mr Kejriwal swore in the name of his children that he would not form a government with the support of the Congress, but did exactly this. When his party was wiped out in the Lok Sabha elections, he got desperate to get the Legislative Assembly, which was in suspended animation, and form the government without an election. The BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, in its overconfidence after winning the Haryana elections, held fresh elections in Delhi. It revived Mr Kejriwal’s fortunes.
Mr Kejriwal promised to send former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit to jail for corruption as soon as he assumed the reins of power, but till date there is not even an FIR registered against her.
V.P. Singh also promised to punish the culprits of the Bofors scam within 15 days of forming the government, and claimed at an election rally at Patna in 1989 before the Lok Sabha elections that he knew the bank account number of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in St. Kitts. He even disclosed the account number and claimed that it was in the name of Lotus, which is an equivalent for Rajiv.
Mr Singh, thus, used honesty as a strategy and could never deliver on the promises made, but he did not face any charge of personal corruption and subsequently refused to hold the post of Janata Dal president also.
Mr Kejriwal too used honesty as a strategy and found resounding success. But soon the self-proclaimed political reformer metamorphosed into a hardcore politician and started treading the beaten track. He removed the names of contributors to his party from the party website on the grounds that they would be harassed by the Union government. Did this new wisdom dawn on him after coming to power? What about the promise at the formation of the AAP that they would upload all information about its funding on the party’s website, which would force other political parties to do the same and would usher in political transparency?
He believes in unabashed self-promotion and has no qualms about spending public money on advertising his “achievements”. The Shunglu Committee on issues of propriety and governance has indicted him.
His mentor Anna Hazare is thoroughly disenchanted with his brand of politics and feels betrayed. Anna was used and dumped under this strategy. The anti-corruption movement became a façade for Mr Kejriwal to climb the ladder of power politics.
There have been many anti-corruption movements in India in the past. Jayaprakash Narayan’s movement was essentially an anti-corruption movement, which turned into be a movement for the preservation of democracy after Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency and defiled the Constitution of India. Mr Singh also led a campaign against corruption in the wake of the Bofors scam and reaped political dividends.
Anna’s movement was very short-lived as he lacked vision despite his impeccable integrity and good intentions. Also, Mr Kejriwal had betrayed him. It is heartening to hear Anna say that he will again sit on a fast at Jantar Mantar if the corruption charges against Mr Kejriwal are proved. One can only hope that such a day never comes, and that Mr Kejriwal would resign if a chargesheet is filed and not wait for the judicial verdict....