An Indian view on history, current affairs and politics

June 1, 2023

How Anna outfoxed Kejriwal in his own game

So we finally saw a rare consensus among parties in parliament. After a decade of commotion, squabbling and stalled work, what the Indian parliament did on Lokpal bill was refreshing and a welcome sight. A Bill envisaged 46 years ago and deliberately allowed to gather dust by successive governments finally got life. It’s one of those occasions when the MP’s deserve accolades and i’m glad Anna thanked them.

The struggle for this bill isn’t without its share of controversies. The Janlokpal movement that exploded on national scene spearheaded by an unlikely octogenarian Gandhian Anna seemed fizzled out once Arvind Kejriwal and his group departed. The authoritative and stubborn nature of Kejriwal first came into news during the discussions between Government and civil society members. Few members of the original movement like, Kiran Bedi, Santosh Hegde soon fell out citing non flexible and dominating view of Kejriwal.

Some allege Kejriwal leeched the movement and Anna’s reputation to build on his image and when the movement seemed comatose, moved on to build his own party. From whatever public stances he has taken since then, none have contradicted this view. Rather the recent elections have only shown how hard it is for Kejriwal to transition from an anti establishment rebel to a leader capable of taking pragmatic decisions.

While Kejriwal was busy building his party AAP, Anna was touring the country as part of his Jantantra yatra. Kejriwal continued to hog limelight while Anna was attracting new supporters. Gen.VK Singh was an important addition to his group. All this while stories of AAP misusing donations, hacking list of people associated with the movement, misusing Anna’s name kept popping up. To be honest, the kind of credibility Kejriwal carries, it wouldn’t have possible for any party to tarnish his image. The only damage could’ve come from Anna and it did come at surprising regularity. Some indication of this damage came from the bitter reaction of AAP members.

What Kejriwal has achieved is no mean feat. But, the situation has changed for him. He can no longer abuse the system since he is part of it now. He can no longer wash his hands off the issues by abusing the system. He needs to show leadership needed to lead his party and the people. Unfortunately, the kind of rabid idealism Kejriwal professes leaves little room for maneuver. This is evident in Delhi where despite having the numbers, Kejrwal has developed cold feet at the prospect of forming the government. Kejriwal’s posturing leaves little options for him and makes him predictable .

Anna’s agitation for Lokpal couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. While Kejriwal is dithering from making a government and fulfilling his promises, Anna stole a march over him by taking a lead on Lokpal and reaching out to other parties for support. The Delhi election results have been a wake up call for all parties. A beleaguered congress and a wary BJP were only too happy to respond to a non political Anna which gave them legroom to claim credit for this Bill. Facing an aggressive AAP in parliament later would have been too embarrassing.

The actions and statements of AAP leaders leading up to passing of the Lokpal bill has clearly shown their desperation at watching their main election plank go. Who could have imagined AAP standing together with SP in their opposition against Lokpal bill. A bill, which lies at the very genesis of this party, promised implementation of which brought them so much support and following. Through this whole episode AAP seems to have lost the plot a little to Anna. Arvind Kejriwal this time seems to have tasted the same medicine they administered to Anna few years back.