The Lal Krishna Advani column: Kejriwal’s reaction to AAP’s MCD debacle
Many of you might have been surprised by Arvind Kejriwal’s reaction to AAP’s debacle in the Delhi municipal elections. No protests, agitations or tantrums as people expected. Contrarily, Kejriwal congratulated the BJP after the election results and shockingly AAP even praised Yogi Adityanath for his decision to cancel some public holidays. Worry not, with my decades of experience in Indian politics, I can explain everything.
After Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in May 2014, he and Amit Shah did not call for Assembly polls in Delhi immediately because they were afraid of one man, Arvind Kejriwal. As you all know, Narendra Modi was my trainee and I know him well. He was not afraid of losing to Kejriwal. But he was scared of winning against Kejriwal!
The BJP was already the governing party in the MCD and the Parliament. A BJP win the Assembly would have given Kejriwal an attractive target to hold Modi accountable on 3 fronts, MCD, Assembly and Parliament. With this exciting personality full of tantrums and a benevolent media, Modi would have found governing difficult. So Amit Shah and Modi must have sat down to discuss what to do. Shah would have suggested waiting for a few months to allow the Modi wave to subside.
A few months down the line, again both must have sat down together, worried. “The Modi wave has dimmed, but unfortunately is still strong enough to sweep Delhi.” Shah must have said.
“What to do now?” Modi must have said, “We have to declare elections sooner or later.”
That’s when Shah came up with his master plan. “Let’s do negative campaign against Kejriwal. Attack him and make him a hero. Put the entire cabinet to campaign against him.”
Despite this, towards the end of the campaigning, the 2 parties were more or less even. Then Amit Shah played another trick. He said, “Let’s parachute Kiran Bedi from outside as CM candidate and demoralize the local leadership.” The plan worked and AAP swept with 67 of 70 seats. Modi and Shah were happy. An employed Kejriwal is any day better than an unemployed Kejriwal.
Now Kejriwal was a worried man. He never wanted to be CM. That’s why he ran away in his first term. All he wanted was to become a people’s representative and harass the ruling party, throw tantrums and remain in the news. But now there was a challenge. With 67 of 70 MPs, it is difficult to argue that the opposition does not allow you to function. Also, the Congress was wiped out. So using an argument that “BJP Congress mile hua hain” was also out of question. After all 3 plus 0 is still only 3.
However, Kejriwal turned out to be smarter than Modi and Shah had imagined. He became a CM with no portfolio and tried used his entire free time to challenge Modi.
However, 2 years down the line, his dramatics and non-performance had made him unpopular. Hence, he was looking for a way out by winning outside Delhi. But the Punjab and Goa debacle hit him hard.
Now, another thing scared him, the thought of winning the upcoming MCD elections. So far he could give excuses like the MCD or the Modi Government not allowing him to work. But what to do if he won MCD? He would be more accountable. He was scared that Modi and Shah would try some tricks or even rig EVMs to make AAP win the MCD polls. But the MCD results have come as a big relief for him. I met him the other day and he is his old cheerful self again.