Kejriwal apologises to Majithia: Newfound pragmatism will push AAP towards identity crisis

YasheeMar 16, 2018 | 20:52

Kejriwal apologises to Majithia: Newfound pragmatism will push AAP towards identity crisis

The party can either be the anti-corruption crusader, or the aam aadmi who compromises with the system every day.

The crusader has suddenly turned conciliatory. Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal has tendered an apology to former Punjab minister and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia, for alleging that he was involved in the drugs trade in Punjab. Majithia had sued the Delhi CM for defamation.

Kejriwal, the perennially angry man of Indian politics, making allegations against politicians is not new. In fact, his statements about “taking on the rich and powerful without fear of consequences” have been the very foundation of his politics. Yet, sources within the party have said he might tender more apologies, including to finance minister Arun Jaitley, with whom he is locked in a high-voltage court drama.   


So what is behind the Delhi CM turning mellow, and what will it mean for his party and his brand of politics?

Pragmatism sits ill on Kejriwal the anti-corruption crusader. Photo: Reuters
Pragmatism of convenience sits ill on Kejriwal, the anti-corruption crusader. (Credit: Reuters photo)

Kejriwal’s apology letter to Majithia is quite abject – “Because of my allegations made against you at various political rallies, public meetings, TV programmes, print, electronic and social media, you filed a defamation case against us... I hereby withdraw all my statements and allegations and apologise for the same. The damage caused to your esteem, the hurt caused to your family, friends, well-wishers, followers and the loss caused to you is regretted.”

Majithia has responded with equal bonhomie, saying he will withdraw the defamation case, and lauding Kejriwal’s courage. “Mr Kejriwal has displayed great courage to admit his mistake and move on. I thank him for this gesture,” he said in a statement.

Kejriwal’s own party, however, is not so pleased. The Punjab unit of the AAP has called the apology a “meek surrender”, and state chief Bhagwant Mann has resigned from his post. Supporters of the party too have voiced their discontent.

The AAP has claimed that the apology was a way to tackle the slew of legal cases the party and its leaders are weighed under. “These cases have been foisted by our political rivals to demotivate us and keep our leadership busy in these legal matters. The decision to amicably sort out all such legal cases is a strategy as devised by the legal team of the party. The political cases in Delhi have been put on fast-track, forcing MLAs and ministers to virtually attend cases on a daily basis in courts in Delhi and other states across the country. Contesting court cases is taking a toll on the already constrained resources of the party and individuals,” it said in a statement.


However, such pragmatism does not sit well on the “party with a difference”. The AAP had made grandiose claims of cleaning up the system, and touted itself as the only party willing to take on the corrupt in high places.

In Punjab, it has accused the Congress and the SAD of being hand in glove in “looting the state”, and earned brownie points for being the only one willing to name and shame Majithia, who is the brother of Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

In fact, Kejriwal had said, “Punjab would have been free from drugs and narcotics if PPCC chief Captain Amarinder Singh had not sought protection for Punjab revenue minister Bikram Majithia from Sonia Gandhi.”

While Majithia's guilt or innocence is for the relevant authorities to decide, the plea of “constrained resources” makes it look like the AAP wanted to enjoy the electoral benefits of the "fighting corruption" tag without a plan in place for the consequences.

Indeed, as AAP lawmaker Kanwar Sandhu tweeted: “If you stand for truth, facing defamation cases is a way of life. I am still facing defamation filed by Punjab cable mafia. Will fight it to the end.”


The AAP can either be the outsider willing to take on the corruption entrenched within the system, or it can be the average Indian aam aadmi, who makes compromises with the system every day because he lacks the resources to tackle it. The party will have to choose which one it is.

Already, the AAP’s moral edge has been blunted somewhat because of its choice of Rajya Sabha candidates. People were accepting, even indulgent, of an impractical Kejriwal quivering with righteous indignation. We do not yet know what a pragmatic Kejriwal might be like.

The spirit of compromise that the AAP has displayed in Majithia’s case will push the party further towards an identity crisis.


Last updated: March 24, 2018 | 12:11
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