AAP govt. in Delhi completed one year in office recently. In Feb. 2015, AAP won a landslide elections in Delhi winning 67 out of 70 seats (96% of total assembly strength), a feat only observed in a few north eastern states. People forgave Kejriwal for resigning mid-term exactly a year ago and reposed faith in the “aam aadmi” again. The poor, downtrodden and the middle class identified itself with AAP.
The victory of Kejriwal was– victory of hope over despair, victory of change over status quo and victory of a new brand of politics. He brought in fresh new air into the dirty corrupt politics of the times. People saw in Kejriwal a crusader from among themselves, an underdog who took upon himself to cleanse politics of all corruption and increase public participation in governance.
Expectations of people were very high and they believed that Kejriwal would be able to implement his agenda and improve the overall position of Delhi. 1 year after Kejriwal was sworn in, even his hard core supporters would agree, that a lot needs to be done and he hasn’t been able to take advantage of the popular mandate.
What has happened a year after?
There are three clear indicators how and why Kejriwal seems to be not utilizing well the huge mandate:
(i) Focus on increasing reach of the party
Kejriwal is the most popular leader of AAP and the party is dependent on him to do well in state elections and establish itself in other states apart from Delhi. Kejriwal is the first chief minister not to hold any portfolio clearly signaling his priorities. A near full strength of AAP in the house gives him this luxury. After conquering Delhi, his task is also to make inroads in other states. AAP has clearly shown its intent to win in Punjab. Ten years of anti-incumbency against ruling Akali Dal – BJP alliance he believes provides AAP with a chance. Additionally, he is the man who is leading talks with other regional parties like JDU and TMC to build an anti-national front against BJP in upcoming state polls and next Lok Sabha polls. The Lokpal Bill, Anna and his brainchild was passed by Delhi assembly this month, 9 months after his re-election despite having absolute majority. Why? He was busy fighting an internal struggle against Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan to gain control over the party. Kejriwal spent months to quell rebellion which ended up in suspension of YY and PB from the party.
(ii) Failing to Build Consensus, Adopting a Confrontational Attitude and Playing Victim Politics
Delhi is not a full state in many respects and Kejriwal has been in confrontation with the center regarding control of Delhi Police, for appointment of officers, defining roles and responsibilities of LG etc. For any and everything wrong happening in Delhi he puts the blame on the center. Crime rate has increased from 1.25 lakh cases registered under IPC to 1.58 lakh cases in the first 10 months of this year. Center is squarely to blame as Delhi Police falls under Home Ministry and not AAP. All governments in Delhi have functioned smoothly prior to this and only AAP is having an issue. The latest addition is CBI raids on his principal secretary which he termed as Modi attempt to threaten and finish off AAP. There have been few instances of BJP MLAs thrown out of house by Marshals, they can’t even handle 3 MLAs.
(iii) Adopting a Defensive Approach
Kejriwal created an aura around himself and vowed to change politics. That’s what has always happened. Others have done it too. These statements are being thrown at audience continuously. He has become increasingly risk averse. Kejriwal is missing the out of box approach which he brought along with him – transparent funding, inclusion of public feedback on manifesto, selection of candidates etc. His odd-even traffic formula did remind of his good old days but his handling of the CBI raids brought him back to square one. While a section of people have started saying Kejriwal has become a politician, others are saying there’s nothing special about Modi; he is like any other PM.
To sum up, public doesn’t like leaders who behave like crying babies. If Kejriwal would have said in rallies Delhi government doesn’t have all powers and fulfillment of manifesto items depends upon center’s co-operation, AAP might not have got such huge mandate. People won’t give in to these excuses at the end of his term. Kejriwal needs to get back his old charisma and innovative thinking. So he better start taking advantage else history will remember him as wasting popular mandate…