Everybody loves to hate Kejriwal

Delhi CM's no-holds-barred attacks on corruption and AAP's completely transparent model of political funding still set it apart from other parties with opaque inflows.

 |  5-minute read |   29-07-2016
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Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is all set to go for a ten-day Vipassana meditation course from tomorrow.

It's a healthy practice to be mindful and perhaps his rivals should emulate it. The BJP seems to have a visceral loathing for Kejriwal evident in the daily arrests of AAP MLAs.

With 11 AAP MLAs having been arrested and others under investigation by various agencies, including the income tax department, Kejriwal made a video saying he fears that a "vindictive Modi may murder him and his MLAs".

Also read - 3 takeaways from Kejriwal's 'Modi may kill me' video message

If the video was not shocking enough, the silence of all top leaders and political parties, despite Parliament being in session, on the daily political and administrative vendetta against the AAP is truly shocking.

Not a single leader - from Rahul Gandhi, Nitish Kumar, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee and leaders of the left like Sitaram Yechury - has uttered a word about the increasing attacks on the AAP.

Why is the entire political class united with the BJP in its hatred for the AAP?

After all the Modi government tried the same tactics in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh to unseat governments. So political vendetta is not confined to just the AAP.

As the Centre carried out a CBI raid on the Delhi secretariat on December 15 last year, an angry Kejriwal lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and tweeted that he was a "coward and a psychopath".

Also read - By calling Modi 'coward' and 'psychopath', Kejriwal has proven he's a fraud

Other leaders privately chortled but publicly did not condemn the raid on the Delhi secretariat by the CBI.

It's obvious that the antipathy to the AAP stems from the way it practises its politics.

Kejriwal's no-holds-barred attacks on corruption make other leaders uncomfortable. The AAP's completely transparent model of political funding still sets it apart from all other political parties with opaque funding.

Ankit Lal, head IT and innovation, who's in charge of putting all donations and funding on the site, wrote in DailyO: "It's been followed for the past four years and currently it's not live as we are revamping and updating the site. But, every single donor gets an immediate acknowledgment via email the moment they donate. And, soon the updated live list will be available on the site."

This complete accountability makes traditional parties and those who fund them (with bags and suitcases of cash sometimes) extremely uncomfortable.

Kejriwal's stubborn insistence on not changing this model is also the reason why he's loathed by the entire political class.

An AAP leader told me: "They tried to paint us like them with the two stings before the Delhi elections but people simply did not believe them. You can call Kejrwal a Naxalite but people do believe that he's an honest man."

The honest aam aadmi image which Kejriwal has cannily crafted at the expense of other politicians is the reason why they are united in opposing him with the BJP.

m_id_375857_narendra_072916123708.jpg It would be a huge blow to the BJP if it loses the prime minister's home state. (PTI) 

Kumar Vishwas, the AAP leader who's in charge of fundraising, says: "Other parties don't support us because they feel threatened, but I have seen a 40 per cent rise in donations after the attack on the AAP MLAs started."

Says a Congress leader: "Kejriwal attacked us and destroyed the UPA government using Anna Hazare. We will never support him. He does not understand politics. He's a maverick."

Such conspiracy theories swirl in central hall about the quintessential outsider Kejriwal.

A leader close to him giggles with amusement: "It's funny we attacked the UPA on corruption. Did we conspire to create the corruption? And, who's the biggest opposition to Modi now? It's Kejriwal. Unlike Rahul Gandhi, he's not afraid to engage at a level Modi understands. He pulls no punches in his attack on the BJP and the government. People are not fooled."

The AAP certainly is finding a lot of support for a newbie party in states like Punjab, especially as the BJP heavyweights, such as former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu slated to join them on August 15, as I first wrote about in my column for DailyO.

Kejriwal's forays into Gujarat, a state ripe for political and electoral conquest after the Hardik Patel reservation agitation and the Una Dalit atrocities, have also made the BJP restive.

Gujarat would be a low-hanging fruit for the opposition and it would be a huge blow to the BJP if it loses the prime minister's home state.

Kejriwal is focusing on Gujarat and not dissipating any energy in the much-hyped UP elections.

This has not escaped the BJP's scrutiny. Hence, the upping of the ante in the AAP attacks by the Centre.

While giving bail to the latest AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan, a Delhi court observed: "There is no material on record to suggest that the present accused has threatened or called the complainant to withdraw the case or change her statement as alleged."

Such observations should make the Centre blush. But that's unlikely. The battle between David and Goliath is likely to continue.


Swati Chaturvedi Swati Chaturvedi @bainjal

The writer is a journalist.

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