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Ek Saal Kejriwal

Sadhavi Khosla

A year ago, Delhi's common and uncommon people voted for a common party, headed by a common man – Mr. Arvind Kejriwal. With the appointment of Mr. Kejriwal as Delhi's Chief Minister, the capital of India got a saviour who could take the state out of the claws of corruption, poverty, poor health, pitiable sanitation as well as miserable infrastructure facilities.

If not merely because of the hopes of the public, AAP came into power mainly due to the claims that it made, like any other political party, and still indicated itself to be a party which is different from others.

Now, after one year of ruling Delhi, let's take a glance at the various initiatives that Delhi's CM, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal has taken to keep the party's promises so far!

'Lok'-pal or 'Kejri'-pal?

In the years 2011 & 2012, the Indian anti-corruption movement led by activist Anna Hazare, Shanti & Prashant Bhushan, the then RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, and Kiran Bedi, etc., became a buzzword all across India with the aim to put an end to the endemic political corruption which is a deep-rooted problem in the country. With protests taking place all over the nation, the demand for a Jan Lokpal bill became invincible.

This fight for the introduction of a Jan Lokpal Bill that can help in the formation of an independent institution of Lokpal, without any control or influence of either the Central government or the State government, was the very core on which AAP got its historic victory in Delhi Legislative Assembly election held last year.

Now, even after a year, the bill has not been passed, and the news of Kejriwal fiddling with the bill has been making rounds ever since he got a bill tabled in the Delhi assembly.

The Delhi government's new Janlokpal Bill proposed by the CM of the state has killed the very essence of Jan Lokayukta for which the entire country fought with full fervour over five years ago. This bill is said to have compromised on each of the focus areas made at the Ramlila Maidan in 2011 & 2012. From the most important principle that the Lokpal will be free from any and every sort of political meddling, to the premise that it will be in control of a separate, independent investigative agency – there have been many changes in this bill which lack the fulfilment of such principles that were the foundation of the Lokpal movement.

It is alleged that Kejriwal's Delhi government will now have full control over the appointment and removal of an independent ombudsman. To add to the woes of those activists of the movement who actually worked for the welfare of the country, this proposed bill is said to influence the decisions of the CBI as well, where the agency will be supported by the officers that the Delhi government will recommend.

Perhaps, this bill proposed by Kejriwal should be called a 'Kejripal' Bill than a Lokpal Bill, because it is said to be nothing like the latter.

Standing for the Issue of Demolition or Fixing Wagon?

If there is something that Kejriwal could be branded for, it would be blaming AAP's oppositions for any and everything, and if that thing is morally wrong, then there is no mercy from the house of Kejriwal!

After the unfortunate death of a six month old child during the demolition drive of Railways in Shakur Basti in December, Kejriwal swiftly turned the tragic incident into a national episode, in order to even the score with the Central government one more time.

There is no denying the fact that Mr Kejriwal supported the right cause to save the lives of the homeless, but with the constant bashing of the government at the Centre, it appeared more like a hate campaign against AAP's oppositions, instead of a genuine concern for the poor.

Supporting the Right to Education

There might be thousands of reasons why people give AAP a bad press, but the initiative that the government has taken to aid parents give their children education conveniently, is something to be praised about! Over the past one year, the AAP government took several steps in the education sector and even came with a bunch of bills to bring about some major improvements in Delhi's education system.

Giving many parents the much needed peace of mind, the Government stamped out management quota for nursery admissions in the private schools. In addition to this, AAP has also scrapped 62 criteria of admission process in these schools that were irrational and unfair.

With steps like these, AAP has instructed private schools to adopt transparent, well-defined, reasonable and unbiased criteria for admission in nursery class, extending the right to education to the common people.

Odd-Even Initiator or an Artful Deceiver?

A problem solver, an out-of-the-box thinker, a change-agent…

These words might not seem to suit Delhi's CM, Mr Arvind Kejriwal, but with the success of the odd-even scheme he has certainly bagged these titles. However, I am not sure for how long is he going to do justice with these monikers.

With campaigns and rhetoric that have always worked for Kejriwal, he let his charm do wonders this time again, when he beseeched the entire Delhi to work together and contribute towards the success of the odd-even scheme, intended to reduce the city's mounting pollution level.

Being termed as a 'Gas-Chamber', the pressure to do something soon, and something significant for Delhi was there on the AAP government and then came the idea to mimic the approach that has been already followed by India's counterparts like China, France, Italy, Mexico, and Colombia.  

The episode – no matter how trivial change it might have brought in reducing Delhi's pollution woes – definitely helped many (more of them were the privileged-exempted ones) to get rid of their traffic troubles.

With lesser vehicles on the road, people reached to their destinations fast, making the scheme a hit amongst the Delhites, and giving Mr Kejriwal some initiative to be proud of – irrespective of the fact that it was not an original one, and it was not a well-planned one either – lacking thoughtfulness towards those who travel through public transport like Delhi buses and metro.

Anti-Corruption or Pro-Corruption?

Imagine this: A year ago, a party gets majority of votes in the capital of India and wins the assembly election based on the very statement that it is formed to kick corruption out of the country. After just a year, we have more than one-third Cabinet ministers of that same party charged against corruption!

Is it ironic or is it more tragic?

AAP's ministers who vowed to protect the citizens of the country from corruption, and put an end to the evil, many of them were found supporting, or rather nurturing the evil. Many of the MLAs of the party were also held for corruption.

When one of the AAP's ministers, Asim Ahmed Khan, was caught in the act of taking bribe, then our honourable CM of Delhi went a step ahead and sacked him!

Kudos to the honesty of this CM – who took no time to grab the opportunity of projecting himself as a leader who actually walks the talk!

Even when he chose the ministers himself and assured Delhi's people of their spirit and aim to swipe off corruption from every nook and corner of the state, this step definitely came out as a well played master stroke by the CM. Only someone with as strong acumen as Kejriwal could have thought of doing something like this!

Instead of giving a chance to the opposition to rake up AAP's failure in being a true anti-graft association, the CM smartly played his move and announced the decision of sacking his corrupted minister at a press conference – turning the ball in his court.

But what the CM has failed to notice is the fact that many of the AAP legislators, including the CM himself, have several criminal cases running against them. Apart from corruption, cases have been filed on AAP members on issues like land grabbing, extortion, molestation, to name but a few.

While AAP has always been a self acclaimed anti-corruption party, its relation with corruption and crime has shown a different picture to the Delhites, within just twelve months into the party's stint in power.

I wonder what all will happen during the remaining tenure of the party!

A party for the 'public' or for the 'MLAs'
No consensus amongst political parties on Lokpal in 44 years. If they have to increase their salaries, there is consensus in 5 min.
- Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 25, 2012

The above tweet made by Mr Kejriwal during the anti-graft movement that led Kejriwal to the ladder of success, is still there to haunt him.

Mr Kejriwal must have been exasperated with the fact that the Internet is one powerful tool – if it helps you win elections, it can also lead you to a disastrous fall – for what happens on the Internet, stays on the Internet!

In early December, last year, the Delhi assembly approved a four-fold salary hike for city MLAs along with a significant increase in allowances, which will make the total monthly package of our 'well-deserving' and 'patriotic' legislators to amount more than Rs 2 lakh from Rs 88,000, with the basic salary increasing to Rs 50,000 per month from Rs 12,000 per month.

Quite an impressive hike, I must say! A hike that a common man would never be able to get even in a decade!

Instead of fulfilling the promises that it made during election campaigning, the focus of AAP government seems to be more on making hay while the sun shines.
The self-serving, rather than people-serving politics that this government is playing openly, takes a lot of guts and brazenness – something which the Kejriwal government certainly has. May be this is what they promised to give to the people of Delhi – a government sans corruption, a government which does not take any bribe, simply because it gets a whopping 138% hike just within a year.

Come on, I mean, who would need bribe, when someone is openly getting an extraordinary pay, that too in the name of government expenses!

Well, another remarkable master stroke played there by our capital's CM!
Hats-off to his power-play – a novel one though – such kind of audacity was surely missing from Indian political front, till now!

Drugs in Delhi & CM's new promises in Punjab

With the coming of 2016, we saw Mr. Arvind Kejriwal launching his party's campaign for the 2017 assembly polls in Punjab on the ground of eradicating the menace of drug abuse which is rampant in the state.
While it is a great cause for sure, I would like to ask Mr. Kejriwal – what all initiatives has he taken so far in curbing the drug addiction problem in his governing state, Delhi?

The situation of drug abuse in the capital of India needs no description. Drugs like Marijuana, Charas, LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide), MDMA (Methylenedioxyphenethylamine), Ketamine and the new entrant Meow Meow (4-methyl methcathinone), are being peddled openly all over Delhi University campuses, which are allegedly the hotspots of drug selling.

Not only these areas which are flocked by students from all over the country and from abroad as well, but almost every other area in the city has been facing the peril of drug peddling, and Kejriwal's government is busy making claims for taking Punjab out of its problem of drug abuse.

Can someone go and tell the CM of Delhi, that he is at the top most position of Delhi's political cadre? It is his primary duty and obligation to do something worthwhile in Delhi and first take this state out of the claws of drugs, and then go make promises in Punjab for the future. It has been one year since AAP came into power in Delhi and there is hardly any initiative taken by the party so far to eradicate drugs from the state.

It goes without saying that AAP has a vested interest in winning elections in Punjab, and for this reason it is making every possible fancy talk to implore the people of Punjab, just the way it did in Delhi a year ago.
But, what the government has failed to see is that Delhi's people are not soft in the head, they can look into the atrocious display of crookedness that AAP is up to and can question the party as well – putting it in a fix, which will be extremely difficult for the party to deal with!

Delhi slumping in dejection

My only message to Mr. Arvind Kejriwal after the successful completion of his one year as Delhi's Chief Minister would be that he should stop stumbling as the road ahead is a long one! He needs to stop over reacting and has to start working on the promises that he has made to Delhi's citizens.

Instead of having a new-fangled Delhi only in its manifesto, the CM of Delhi should actually work to bring the Delhi that he promised and which the people envisioned, out from the papers into the reality!

Delhi's citizens are still in the anticipation of facilities like free water, free electricity, free Wi-Fi, better roads, more hospitals, more schools, improved women safety, and a corruption free government.

So, it will be great if Mr. Kejriwal can be a man who stands for what he says, and act as an 'uncommon', political man who works for the welfare of the people, not his party legislators.