Will Arvind Kejriwal reward Manish Sisodia the way Modi rewarded Shah?

VandanaFeb 11, 2020 | 18:45

Will Arvind Kejriwal reward Manish Sisodia the way Modi rewarded Shah?

It seems like more than anyone else, it is Sisodia who is aware of his limitations as a politician.

There was a stark difference between Modi 1.0 of 2014 and Modi 2.0 of 2019. And that difference was Amit Shah.

Shah was Number 2 in the BJP when the Narendra Modi wave first swept the country in 2014, mostly working behind the scenes. He did not even join the government, working mostly to strengthen the party organisation through the next five years.

modi-690_021120061834.jpgAmit Shah has made the face — and the voice — to present the party’s views in Parliament. (Photo: Reuters)

But when the party returned to power with an even greater mandate in 2019, Shah not just joined the government as the country’s home minister but began to hog much of the limelight too. From the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, to the debate over abrogation of Article 370, to the debate on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Shah was made the face — and the voice — of the party to present the party’s views in Parliament.

If Modi 1.0 was about Shah supporting Modi’s rise on his shoulders, Modi 2.0 has so far been reward time for Shah. Their bond has been so strong that often people even name the two leaders in the same breath, calling them the Modi-Shah duo.

But there exists another duo in Indian politics whose bond, so far, has been as strong as Modi-Shah, if not stronger. They are Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia. And with Kejriwal having sprinted to his third stint as the chief minister of the national capital, Sisodia’s contribution to this victory would be difficult to ignore.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has left all competition behind by miles winning 62 of the 70 Assembly seats that went to polls. The party is now set to form the government for a third time in the state.

Sisodia is Delhi’s education minister, who is also Delhi’s deputy chief minister, who is also Delhi’s finance minister, and who has basically been in-charge of all departments that were not allotted to any other minister.

At one point, when it looked like Sisodia would lose his Patparganj constituency to BJP’s Ravinder Singh Negi, it seemed like AAP’s victory would be hit by a huge dampener. After New Delhi constituency, which is chief minister Kejriwal’s seat, Patparganj was the most prestigious seat for the AAP.

The BJP had won the seat in 1993, after which, the seat had become a Congress stronghold till Sisodia won the seat for two consecutive terms in 2013 and 2015.

In 2013, Sisodia was elected as a member of the Delhi Legislative Assembly, defeating BJP’s Nakul Bhardwaj by 11,478 votes. In 2015, when AAP swept the Delhi elections winning 67 of the 70 seats, Sisodia was re-elected to from Patparganj, beating BJP’s Vinod Kumar Binny by over 24,000 votes.

The point now is what next for Sisodia?

Politics is a ruthless game. It remembers the kings, but doesn’t care about the kingmakers. And that is why the race to become the king is cut-throat.

Modi (69) and Shah (55) share an age gap of 14 years, which allows them the room to accommodate each other’s personal ambitions. Kejriwal (51) and Sisodia (48) are separated by an age gap of just three years. This allows the two leaders enough time to see their political destinies unfold but it can also make them that much more eager to achieve big.

mani-690_021120061915.jpgKejriwal (51) and Sisodia (48) are separated by an age gap of just three years. (Photo: Reuters)

AAP went to polls with two big achievements — health and education. Sisodia is the man credited with transforming the latter in Delhi. But much before AAP was even conceptualised, Sisodia joined Kejriwal’s NGO Parivartan. He was still a journalist with Zee News, working as a producer and news reader, when he decided to support Kejriwal in his endeavours.

In 2006, Sisodia joined Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi in setting up the Public Cause Research Foundation. Many say Kejriwal, just like most others, is intolerant to dissent. The proof of this lies in the ousting of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan from the party. Most other leaders who spoke up, including Kumar Vishwas, Kapil Mishra and Shazia Ilmi, had to walk out of the party. Some even claimed it was Sisodia who cut them off from Kejriwal.

From a speaker who would fumble often in 2013, Sisodia now handles press conferences firefighting for the party with fluency. But he is still not a mass leader who can sway the crowds with his speeches. Most rallies that AAP held in the run-up to the Delhi elections were thus addressed by Kejriwal himself.

And it seems like more than anyone else, it is Sisodia who is aware of his limitations as a politician.

It is thus likely that Sisodia will continue to be Numero Dos in the party even as Kejriwal stays its Numero Uno.

Last updated: February 12, 2020 | 11:22
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