Is Kejriwal helping the Congress inadvertently?
Arvind Kejriwal, social activist and founder of the Aam Aadmi’s party has acquired an image of a crusader against corruption over a period of time.
He was one of the most trusted aides of Anna Hazare and subsequently broke away from him to form his own political outfit.
Of late Kejriwal has been taking up populist issues such as increase in power tariffs and the overall corruption in Delhi government thereby endearing him to the capital’s middle class in particular.
In fact, he is an iconic figure amongst middle classes and enjoys a very good image. His support base has been increasing gradually and there are a large number of resident welfare associations which support his cause. These include those who were a part of Delhi government’s Bhagidari initiative at one time.
Kejriwal may make his debut in electoral politics later this year when the elections to the Delhi assembly take place.
He is expecting great support from the citizens of this historic city whose trust in the Congress party and its government is not what it was at one stage.
But he and his group are new to the game of politics and thus may be doing certain things which could benefit the forces they are fighting against right now.
Delhi has for a long time had just two functional parties—the Congress and the BJP. Whenever a third force has come into play, one of these two parties has benefited.
The Congress took advantage of the presence of the Janata Party nominees in 1983 and the BJP came to power in 1993 when the Janata Dal also put up its candidates.
The situation could be similar in 2013 when the presence of a third force in Delhi will help the Congress in all probability. This belief is based on the assumption that the anti-Congress vote will be split between the BJP and the third force.
In any case, the middle classes were always the strength of the BJP but in Delhi they had turned towards Congress, partly because of Sheila Dikshit and partly because of Dr Manmohan Singh.
The middle classes are at present greatly disillusioned with the Congress and its leaders due to rising prices and allegations of rampant corruption.
The BJP has suffered because the middle classes shifted loyalty to Anna Hazare and activists with clean image such as Arvind Kejriwal.
The Saffron party has since been trying to woo the middle classes but there is no evidence till now that they have returned to its fold. But elections will be the ultimate test to determine the way this segment votes.
The speculation in political circles is that if the anti-Congress vote gets divided, the outcome will favour the return of the Congress in the capital.
Some opponents of Kejriwal also suggest that he and East Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit have been close to each other and this could be a joint strategy of the Congress camp to ensure a fourth successive defeat for the BJP in Delhi.
To support this argument, it is pointed out that Sandeep Dikshit and late Vilasrao Deshmukh had played a major role in persuading Anna Hazare to break his fast at Ramlila ground when Anna’s team was still united and at that time Kejriwal was his principal aide.
But these suggestions have a huge share of political dimension and thus cannot be taken just on the face value.
It is therefore for Kejriwal to dispel any such view that he was inadvertently helping the Congress if he is serious at what he is doing right now.
Otherwise, he could be what Manpreet Badal was in Punjab and Keshubhai Patel was in Gujarat in 2012 assembly elections. Kejriwal has a great image right now and he should try to keep it intact with the right deeds.