It's been a year since Kejriwal has tweeted about Modi. Why it's a good thing for AAP

Delhi chief minister is finally showing signs of political maturity.

 |  3-minute read |   14-02-2018
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On February 14, the day his government completed three years in office, when Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal rose to address party workers — he listed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government's achievements and the hurdles introduced before it in delivering "good governance" — he did so in a softer, kinder and more amiable tone. Conspicuous by its absence from the speech was any mention of his archrival Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A more nuanced look into Kejriwal's speeches and tweets would suggest the Delhi chief minister is avoiding the mention of Modi altogether. All his political attacks are directed against the party - BJP - but steer clear of naming the PM. Though brought about by electoral compulsion, this could well be taken as the first sign of political maturity from Kejriwal.

The AAP national convener has, in the past, been dismissed for being a "loudmouth" who is more involved in complaining than governing. Many had started seeing Kejriwal's continued targeting of Modi as an excuse for failing to keep his promises.

A Hindustan Times analysis of the AAP chief's tweets shows he mentioned "Modi" in 255 of his 1,303 posts between May 2016 and February 2017. During these 10 months, Kejriwal, on an average, posted 26 tweets every month - mentioning Modi by name.

Since April, however, Kejriwal's tweets have not mentioned the prime minister by name at all. This is the time AAP lost in Goa, while BJP won a resounding majority in Uttar Pradesh.

The party also succeeded in forming a government in Goa.

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Clearly, the AAP realised attacks on Modi had backfired. What is striking is that Kejriwal learnt his lessons and changed course. Instead of attacking Modi, Kejriwal got himself to talk about specific issues, making the fight political and not personal, something that Modi seems to have capitalised on in his political career — an aspect attributed to Modi's propulsion from being chief minister to the country's prime minister.

The AAP had fought the 2015 Delhi Assembly election focusing on the 49-day stint of Kejriwal as chief minister around 2013-14. However, post that he launched an all-out attack against the prime minister picking on him on matters both national and Delhi-centric.

The BJP's grand show in the April 2017 municipal elections, too, served as a wake-up call for Kejriwal. Even though AAP was contesting municipal elections for the first time in Delhi, its poor show of 48 seats despite the BJP-ruled MCDs' disastrous performance was dismal.

The AAP also suffered a defeat so humiliating that its candidate lost even his deposit in the Rajouri Garden by-election held in April last year. This was a huge jolt for a party that won 67 of the 70 Assembly seats in 2015. The perception about Kejriwal becoming just another politician was attributed to the series of defeats suffered by the party.

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Against this backdrop, the AAP co-founder is going easy not just on Modi, but also on Twitter.

An HT analysis shows that between January and November 2015, Kejriwal tweeted, on an average, 40 times a month. From December 2015 to February 2017, his tweet frequency increased by three times, averaging 120 tweets a month. But since April this year, he has posted about 38 tweets a month on an average.

Party insiders attribute this change to the "change in organisation depending on the feedback" received.

From being a chief minister who threatened to disrupt the Republic Day parade in 2014 if his demands weren't met, Kejriwal 2.0 has readjusted his politics to fall in line with what builds positive public perception.

As AAP and Kejriwal celebrate three years in office, they must also raise a toast to this political maturity.

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