Defeat in Punjab and Goa assembly elections last month, then defeat in Rajouri Garden by-poll earlier this month, and now Aam Aadmi Party’s defeat in MCD polls today has led some people to question the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal.
Like BJP banks on personal charisma of Narendra Modi, AAP too projects Arvind Kejriwal’s image as its strongest offering in various elections – so much so that Manish Sisodia had asked Punjab voters to vote as if Kejriwal was going to be their Chief Minister – but somehow the mainstream media never discusses the “Kejriwal wave”, which was seen in 2013 and 2015 Delhi assembly elections, the way they discuss “Modi wave” after every election result.
AAP and Kejriwal are perhaps pushing this EVM tampering theory to make sure no such discussion on personal charisma of the party supremo takes place and people are busy discussing conspiracy theories, however, some people (still no one from within the party though) are now beginning to question Kejriwal.
One among these is Mayank Gandhi, former leader of Maharashtra unit of AAP. Mayank Gandhi was removed from AAP a few months after AAP removed Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav in 2015. Not just that, entire state unit of AAP was removed in late 2015.
Gandhi had written a blog post after AAP lost assembly election results last month that highlighted how the party had lost track. Then he had asked the volunteers to not have much hope from the party unless it changed course. He has now written another blog post and this time he has put the responsibility of AAP losing its way squarely on the doorstep of Arvind Kejriwal.
Referring to the incidents in 2015 shortly after the massive electoral victory AAP registered in Delhi assembly elections, Mayank Gandhi recalled how Arvind Kejriwal tried to take all credit and form a coterie around him by expelling senior leaders like Bhushan and Yadav.
“You assumed that you were the pied piper whom people were following, but in fact it was the music of a new political culture that had people enchanted. Arvind, the unselfish hero who would never compromise, was dead. In his place was a politician who wanted to manipulate that support to fuel his ambition to become a PM in 2019.” Gandhi wrote on his blog.
Gandhi says that like many volunteers, he too left his job even though his financial situation was precarious as he treated Kejriwal as his hero, but now that hero has taken a 180 degrees turn and become opposite of ideals that IAC (India Against Corruption) and AAP stood for in initial days.
The former leader rued that the party was now resorting to casteism, communalism and even corruption if it helped in winning elections. He referred to how the donation list was removed from party’s website when questions were raised. Not just such lists, even people who questioned Kejriwal were removed from the party, he pointed out.
The blog post recounts many incidents from the past and mentions how Kejriwal had become arrogant and autocratic. In once such incident, Kejriwal is alleged to have told Gandhi that “we should not give any importance to volunteers, they were just tools.”
Mayank Gandhi also writes that almost daily attacks on Narendra Modi by Arvind Kejriwal was used by a strategy to project Kejriwal as a strong leader and as national alternative to Modi. He writes that to be a serious alternative to caste and communal politics, Kejriwal needs to take another 180 degrees turn transform AAP.
“We had come to fight them (Congress and BJP) not become another version of them. Follow our original agenda that might get back the respect and credibility that you have completely lost with your foolish and vote bank oriented comments.” he writes.
“For now, forget your national ambitions and focus on governing Delhi well, that is your only chance of staying relevant. Stop dramas and blaming.” he further advises Kejriwal.