ARTICLES FROM THE SUNDAY GUARDIAN
Copyright. All rights reserved. Ram Jethmalani. 2019.
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I believe I have been very fair to Arvind Kejriwal. I expressed nothing but goodwill and support for him from the time he started his agitation against corruption as a member of the Anna team. My articles in this newspaper over the last two years bear testimony to this. My support for him remained firm, even after he decided to turn political and launch the Aam Aadmi Party. And I sincerely believed that he would systematically address the hard core rot of mal-governance and corruption that has consumed our body politic.
But no sooner did he assume the mantle of Chief Ministership of Delhi, clearly, some Faustian bargain seems to have been struck between the Congress and the AAP. Plenty of credible reasons were speculated: to cannibalize the BJP votes, particularly the Narendra Modi votes, not just in Delhi, but in the rest of the country with high urban and middle class aspirations, for whom Kejriwal had become something of a hero, a David slaying Goliath; to avoid a Delhi re-election along with the national elections that would have decimated the Congress tally of 8 further; and laughing over their shoulders, the Congress satraps would have been fairly certain that through the Faustian bargain, Kejriwal as Chief Minister would become his own worst enemy, exposing his thorough incompetence and inability to run a government, and transforming any visible order in governance into mayhem. The deserter Congress voters would see it for themselves, reflect upon their foolishness, and return to the Congress fold.
All the while, the deceptive charade of Congress-AAP animosity had to be kept at high decibel levels, with each publicly hurling insult upon the other on trivial issues, but concealing solidarity on the vital ones. The nation has seen enough of these dramas in the past that have become a political forte of Congress when handling the friend-foe flexibility syndrome. Do they still think they can fool the people?
I had elaborated upon the circumstantial evidence of the Faustian bargain in my article of 1 February 2014 (An unholy union of AAP, Cong, police), and now, I am convinced that Kejriwal has proved me right. After taking full advantage of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement that swept the country, and piggy-backing upon it to attract national attention upon him, he coolly parted ways from his mentor, when the irresistible dazzle of political power took possession of him. And that is when his undoing began. By assuming Chief Ministership, Kejriwal exposed his secret and hidden deficiencies, notably, lack of administrative skill and experience, a character incapable of acquiring sound advisers, even less, listening and learning from them, and a lack of integrity. Integrity is not a quality limited only to financial dealings. Integrity also relates to honesty in thought, word, and deed, and Kejriwal showed lack of it on all three counts.
After assuming the Chief Ministership, Kejriwal also discovered that governance was too restrictive, too caged, there were unnecessary constitutional provisions to follow, rules of business, and a plethora of other statutes, court and administrative diktats that had to be respected. And worst of all, the buck stopped with him, to fulfil all the promises he had made to the people of Delhi, or else, there could well be a Jantar Mantar against him. How much unfettered creativity and adrenalin there was in wearing the garb of the eternal child of nature at Jantar Mantar, irresponsible and unaccountable, demolishing systems and people in charge, being a permanent agitator and activist, rather than a constitutional deliverer.
So he conveniently did another U-turn, a skill he has mastered to perfection. Incidentally, I am informed, that in administrative slang, the word "Kejriwal" has already come to substitute the term volte-face or "change of position". He performed some histrionics about mohalla sabhas, approving his formation of government with Congress support, regardless of his earlier oath on his children, but no such sanction seems to have been obtained from them when he vamoosed from the scene. Instead of lawfully reforming the water and power tariffs, which certainly would have taken some time and trouble, he coolly placed the entire bill of his promises on the taxpayer, through subsidy — no different from any other politician practising populism. Thereafter, desperately looking for an escape route from responsibilities which he was just not capable of handling, he found one in the procedure for tabling his Lokayukta Bill, and then he fled, breaking all other promises to the people of Delhi, like a perfidious partner, also hoping thereby, that he had acquired the halo of martyrdom.
I am informed by people close to him that Kejriwal has now set his sights on acquiring Prime Ministership through the same shenanigans and chicanery through which he inveigled the city state of Delhi. I am inclined to believe this information, because the nation has very recently witnessed another master U-turn from Kejriwal, namely to junk the anti-corruption agenda. Anyway it had become too boring and demanding, and he had no skills whatsoever to address it. More so, as Chief Minister, the onus of delivery lay on him, and he had neither the time, nor the inclination or capability to deconstruct corruption systems and reform them. So he switched it for the anti-communal agenda, a catchy, undefined, populist, and distorted phrase, far removed from its original construct, which requires no performance or achievement, doing another scandalous U-turn from his much touted "secularism".
In his quest for Muslim votes, to help him reach the throne of Delhi, he did take the trouble to address an audience comprising prominent Muslim academics and intellectuals at the India Islamic Cultural Centre. As reported by Indian Express correspondent Abantika Ghosh on the front page of the 25 February 2014 edition, he declared that "communalism is a bigger problem in front of the country than corruption". His language changed to that of a perfect communalist, saying that the BJP has done nothing for Hindus and the Congress has done nothing for Muslims. Notice the change of rhetoric, switching over from the welfare of the aam aadmi, to dividing the same people by religion. Shocking, communal and anti-national are the only words I can describe it with. And that from an educated man who should know what true secularism really implies. The adoption of the Congress party communal discourse cannot be a mere coincidence. It is a marriage of great convenience, trapped in its own chakravyuh, which will devour them both.
Never has one man thrown away so much for so little in such a short time.
As this article goes to print, several significant events are taking place, some of which I feel compelled to comment upon. I read that Ram Vilas Paswan and his LJP have formally announced their return to the NDA and ally with the BJP. This augurs well, and I recall my old association with him. I have always been a great supporter of the OBCs, and I fought almost a lone battle for the Mandal Commission reforms for them, well documented in the Supreme Court judgement, even after Congress and Rajiv Gandhi had declared that they would not enforce it at the Centre. I am presently continuing my fight for them in Jammu and Kashmir.
Another extremely disturbing news item was that the government was proposing to promulgate a bunch of anti-corruption ordinances at the instance of Rahul Gandhi, attempting its terminal fraud on the Constitution of India in complete violation of Article 123. Well, it appears Rahul Gandhi on the eve of the election, suddenly discovered through the looking glass the chronic corruption, which his party and government have perpetrated nakedly over the last decade. It certainly was his political genius to push for ordinances when Parliament is adjourned sine die, without any chance of ratification within the next six weeks, when the election process will be in full swing. I am informed that this folly was mercifully averted on the advice of the Ministry of Law. The bhramit state of the government needs no further exposition.
Is there a shortage of anti-corruption legislation in our country? What we need is enforcement of existing legislation by an independent investigating agency and a completely honest judiciary. And character and integrity cannot be produced by legislation, but only through nature and nurture, and role models setting good examples, like Gandhi, Rajaji or Jai Prakash Narayan.