AAP: A party no different from the others

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On display AAP has left behind its austere image and invested heavily on advertisements. Photo: Vijay Pandey
On display AAP has left behind its austere image and invested heavily on advertisements. Photo: Vijay Pandey

Thulle… this is how Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal refers to the state police. He has been wanting to take control of and ‘reform’ the Delhi Police ever since his first 49-day stint as chief minister. While Kejriwal is busy cribbing for all that he doesn’t have, his party members are breaking the ‘ideal’ principles which the AAP ostensibly stands for with each consecutive stroke. Swati Maliwal’s appointment as chief of Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) is a classic example of political nepotism. Though media reports of her being Kejriwal’s cousin are preposterous, the allegations of nepotism in the case still hold.

In fact, almost every stride that the AAP has taken after the gigantic mandate of February 2015, speaks of a saga of deterioration of the values which it so vehemently upholds. The instances of such deterioration are numerous, ranging from political appointments to a bloated advertisement budget to its student wing; the Chhatra Yuva Sangarsh Samiti (CYSS), adopting the very — money-muscle glamour — politics the party has always abhorred. Such episodes compel one to ask: Has AAP taken the route of traditional party politics to establish itself in the mainstream?

In January 2014, when AAP MLA Somnath Bharti’s midnight adventure in south Delhi’s Khidki village came to the fore, he was summoned by the then DCW chief Barkha Singh. At that time, the DCW’s actions were rebuffed and criticised by the party which accused her of bias since she was a political appointee. Within hours, AAP leaders littered the social media questioning Barkha’s political inclination and the intention behind her decisions. Barkha faced similar criticism from AAP for her ‘targeting’ of AAP leader Kumar Vishwas in the recent ‘illicit liaison’ case as well. Interestingly, all the attacks aimed at Barkha had a single base: that her actions were ‘politically motivated’.

Swati Maliwal assumed office on 20 July as AAP’s ‘fair’ replacement for the ‘politically motivated’ Singh. However, going by the AAP’s own yardstick, Swati too has a political inclination. Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG) Najeeb Jung has questioned her appointment and demanded an explanation from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) regarding the matter. Jung has also called for the papers of her appointment and put it under the scanner.

“No applications were invited or any selection process carried out for the post before the appointment. The Constitution gives the right to the lg to withhold her appointment if he is not satisfied,” Prashant Bhushan, activist and Supreme Court lawyer, tells Tehelka.

However, according to Arunoday Prakash, media advisor to deputy CM Manish Sisodia, Swati’s closeness to Kejriwal has nothing to do with her appointment. “Yes, we accept that Swati is close to Arvind. But this shouldn’t be used as basis to question her credentials. She had remained instrumental in organising the Janta samwaad and was behind Delhi government’s decision to give jobs to acid-attack victims in the city.”

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