Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is a political opportunist – this is one criticism the AAP founder and convener faces every single day of his life. The BJP is irked with him for jumping into the One-Rank-One-Pension row.
In the history of Indian politics it would be a rare sight to see the chief minister detained by the police of his own state not for corruption charges or anything else. But for merely trying to reach out to the family of an ex-serviceman who commited suicide in his state, all for the want of mere Rs 5000 from OROP.
Now first thing first. When the Narendra Modi government came riding to power on several promises – OROP was a major one. Right after being declared the BJP prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi had promised the implementation of OROP.
After more than a year in office and following hunger strikes by army veteran, the Modi government implements a watered down version of the real demands. This left many ex-armymen disillusioned. They continued their protests at Jantar Mantar. No one was paying attention to the issue till the unfortunate suicide of Ram Kishen Grewal.
The reason of delving into the background of the OROP struggle by veterans and the government’s response is to prove that OROP is already a political issue. An issue that the BJP piggy banked to appeal to a large chunk of voters. An issue that forms the core of BJP’s image as a nationalist party. When it falters and fails to satisfy a certain section of the same target group that it had in its mind while asking for votes, the issue will be and must be raised by the Opposition parties.
Now that we have already established that OROP is a political issue for the above-mentioned reasons, let’s come back to the person we love to hate – Arvind Kejriwal and why his interference in the matter is completely justified.
He might be in power in Delhi, but given the hostility and the unprecedented fight between the LG’s office and CMO, it is clear, everything is not under his control. And this is not his fault. If you must remember how when Chickngunya and Dengue fever cases peaked, the Supreme Court had to intervene to bring the two power centres of the national capital to cooperate with each other. Further, civic bodies like NDMC and MCD are under the BJP. Non cooperation is a real problem. Every other day AAP MLAs and workers are slapped with FIRs and police cases.
A person winning 67 of the 70 seat in elections, forming government in back to back elections held in a span of two yaers has to fight every single day of his tenure in the office for survival, for doing his job cuts a very sorry picture of the current power tussle in Delhi.
With so many handicaps, Kejriwal is only half a chief minister and has a very small window to exercise his authority. In such a scenario the only right thing for any party to do to remain politically relevant is to carry its brand of politics to other states. He had unsuccessfully tried it in Haryana.
But now he has definitely created a lot of buzz in Punjab, Goa and Gujarat. It’s clear from the slander campaign unleashed against him and his party in these states. Placing his picture with posters of Osasma Bin Laden right before he decides to launch his campaign in Gujarat is one such examples.
Similarly, in poll-bound Punjab where his MLA Naresh Yadav was accused of playing a role in desecration of Quran in the Muslim majority Malerkota. As per a report of Hindustan Times, the main accused in the case has alleged that he was forced by the Police to name the AAP legislator.
Now, that we have established the AAP isn’t treated like a novice player in the political arena is battling well established players with power on their side, lets come to the main point of contention – does latching on to all issues from Rohith Vemula’s suicide to OROP makes Kejriwal an opportunist?
No. Considering that today in the name of political opposition at the centre we have an inept party like Congress that refuses to give up its obsession with Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal remains our best bet to act as an forceful Opposition. Rahul Gandhi and Kejriwal are of the same age bracket.
But on any given day, Gandhi is still seen as a youth leader, appearing on and off for a sound byte or two, sometimes completely clueless about the cause he is espousing. In comparison Kejriwal, despite his eccentricities and his propensity to court controversy is taken seriously as a politician. He has been able to forge an alternative to the corruption ridden Congress brand of politics to communally charged and hyper-nationalistic politics practiced by BJP.
The reason he has been able to do so is because he has voiced his opinion, sometimes unpopular showed some political willingness to engage with the issues the centre wouldn’t talk about. He forcefully addressed the issue of disappearance of JNU student Najeeb, which has been troubling the student community. He called for the agitation to come out of the campus and reach the streets of Delhi. Clearly, his heart is at the right place.
May be there have been hits and misses on the way. Questioning surgical strikes, an issue the Modi government milked to the core with the Defence Minister crediting his RSS background for such a tough move, was no doubt an ill-timed move.
However, he was the first to question the Narendar Modi government for reaping political benefits out of an operation conducted by the Army. And such questioning is important. No party, no government has the right to play politics over the soldier’s sacrifice and achievements.
So now when Kejriwal decides to rally behind disgruntled veterans demanding the rightful implementation of OROP, the government cannot call him a vulture or a political opportunist. He is just doing the job of what a real opposition would do. Expose the hypocrisy of a government.
Perhaps, the centre could have avoided making a formidable enemy in him and party if let them function without hurdles in Delhi. But having not allowed that they have given them enough reasons to venture out of Delhi and become a strong Opposition not in the Parliament but on the streets, TV channels and social media.