Sleaze slips up in Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab

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Women Congress workers protest against Delhi Chief Minister and AAP's National Convener Arvind Kejriwal in Ludhiana.
Women Congress workers protest against Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party’s National Convener Arvind Kejriwal in Ludhiana.

When l’affaire Christine Keeler, a 19-year-old petite British socialite and would-be model hit the headlines in the English mainstream media in 1963, few could anticipate the rude shock it was about to deliver to the handful of cultural remnants of the still prudish Victorian English society nor the extent to which it was destined to rock the British political system to its very foundations. We all know England is not India — and was not India even during that starchy morality era — yet the seemingly innocuous sex scandal not only devastated the political career of the then British defence minister John Profumo but even set the then prime minister Harold Macmillan firmly on course to a final descent into political oblivion. 

Back home, what is now happening to the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab may still not earn its leaders the kind of grace which Macmillan and Profumo received from their countrymen. The reason for this difference lies not in the moral and social attitudes of the people of the two countries, although there are decidedly many such differences. But the real reason seems to lie not in that India is not England but in that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is not Macmillan, and his Sandeep Sharmas and other alleged exploiters of Punjabis’ honour are not Profumos: they are worse and they are arrogant.

Which brings me to the political adventures of Kejriwal, whose superficial moral vehemence appears not only to be gradually running out of steam but also steering him inevitably towards the slot which destiny normally reserves for the overambitious. In Punjab, a series of wounds, largely self-inflicted, have bogged him down and unless he finds quick moral, intellectual and political replenishment, he is in serious danger of bleeding to an early and untimely
political demise (for him and his followers).

His customary political bravado apart, Kejriwal chose a standalone bungalow for himself, subjecting every guest, including party colleagues to the regimen of searches. No one is allowed to take cellphone, camera, goggles, specs, pens, pencils or wallets inside the building. Such suspiciousness comes only when you have something you need desperately to hide from your people and friends. Why should an Aam Aadmi leader live like an oppressive paranoid like Bin Laden and Dawood?

Such paranoia and suspicion is not entirely unique for those whose overvaulting ambition seeks to outstrip their destiny. The Delhi CM may not see it but the fact is that no one today wants to be in Kejriwal’s fashionably rumpled and ragged muffler, even though he may have used it to good effect as a weapon of political deception. But it’s not hard to see how short the shelf life of success gained through such deception and cosmetic conscience can be.

In brief, there are clear signs now that the people have begun to see through the fact the AAP leader is just a manufactured and carefully manicured messiah — and this is unacceptable in Punjab. It has always been the great fortune of the manufactured messiahs that their devotees are generally dazzled by the magic of their fake simplicity and ‘faked’ identities, and they generally trust high-sounding but hollow proclamations of honesty and humility. To his credit, Kejriwal seems to have perfected these questionable ploys into an art form. But I still remain suspicious of the long-term value of this short-term opportunism.

It is fascinating to observe that Kejriwal has been riding the luck of those who believe that it is better to reign in hell than serve in heaven — or better to rule over an unreal state like Delhi than serve in a real kingdom like Anna Hazare’s. Therefore, it is hardly any wonder that Kejriwal’s devotees are more full of passionate intensity to worship their god than even the dark and blind followers of Milton’s inverted hero are in Paradise Lost. Kejriwal’s devotees are clear that if there is a god in this universe other than Arvind Kejriwal, then that god has to be disobeyed. We all know that the weakest and the shakiest throne belongs to the strongest and proudest arm.

There are more than enough signs that Arvind Kejriwal has lost the opportunity which destiny had created for him. He has lost it because either he never understood it to begin with or he understood it but was never sincere or serious about it, his sole objective being to acquire power. He saw it as an opportunity to centralise power and authority in his hands. 

In fact, it was an opportunity to decentralise.

If he were to be true to the ideals of the Anna movement, then he has to begin demonstrating how to shed power in order to make the system work for the good of the people.

It is fascinating to observe those who believe that it is better to reign in hell than serve in heaven — or better to rule over an unreal state like Delhi than serve in a real kingdom like Anna’s

But his party became a one-man show, so soul-less and spineless has he made it. Power and responsibility will not be shared, he declares. Out of the window go values and principles and Yogendra Yadavs and Prashant Bhushans and Khalsas.

Therefore, now there is no such thing as the Aam Aadmi Party. It died the day Kejriwal was sworn in as CM, dropped his hypocritical renunciation and took over a bungalow larger than the one he had blasted his predecessor for – followed by cabinet larger than hers, security as large as hers, salaries for self and friends far larger than hers.

Meanwhile, he will speak such moral ‘truths’ as that Sukhbir Singh Badal has 63 sex CDs on Kejriwal’s ministers (fake, of course!) There is no need for Kejriwal to prove this. He will say media has been bought over. There is no need to prove that 74 percent of Punjabis are drug addicts! No need to prove that. Bikram Majithia challenges him to repeat in court that he has brought thousands of crores worth of drugs into Punjab. Majithia has filed a defamation suit against him and is daring him to agree to day-to-day hearings. Of course, there is no need for Kejriwal to agree. Where is the hurry for the truth on drugs to be out?

And it doesn’t matter that Kejriwal’s own party is split into at least three equal factions in Punjab — factions headed by Gurpreet Ghuggi, Sucha Singh Chhotepur and Dharmavir Gandhi. Kejriwal’s former-lieutenant Jassi Jasraj was also thrown out of the party because he said AAP leaders close to Kejriwal are indulging in immoral acts, including selling tickets for crores and acts of moral turpitude like exploiting poor women workers. Jassi raised the banner of Punjab’s honour and begged Kejriwal for a hearing. Of course there is no need for that! Sucha Singh Chhotepur said tickets have been sold for crores, and begged Kejriwal to look into it.

There is no need for inquiry into anything, because everything begins and ends with Kejriwal. So what if Sucha was convener of the party?

The Aam Aadmi Party is long dead; long live the aam aadmi.

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