The manner in which Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal has clamped up, not speaking to the media, not making fiery observations against Prime Minister Modi and instead spending more time with the people, makes one wonder whether it is a genuine chastening of an anarchist or a tactical ploy for a limited time.
Kejriwal’s Twitter handle now limits itself to mostly tweeting Delhi government updates. For someone who once described Modi as a “coward” and “psychopath”, Kejriwal is speaking in tempered tone. He is also distinctly less confrontational with Centre-appointed Lt. Governor Anil Baijal. For a leader who would tweet at the drop of the hat, Kejriwal has not held a press conference in the last two months.
Kejriwal’s aides say that after the setback in Punjab where he was very confident that his party would romp home a winner but he came a cropper, he is a transformed man. He makes it a point to travel there every day and check whether schools, hospitals and government services are running properly.
He also meets local residents. He is rebuilding the trust of the people. Some of his close supporters say what proved costly for him was the way he took on Modi. They say that it was not as though Kejriwal turned unpopular. It was his attacks on Modi that were unpopular. The manner in which he took on the Election Commission on the issue of tampering of electronic voting machines also did not do his already dented credibility any good.
He made himself vulnerable to being called irresponsible and untrustworthy. Whether a new Kejriwal would emerge from this ordeal of fire who would be more acceptable to the people only time will tell. But Kejriwal is truly at the crossroads. After having lost out in Punjab and been decimated in the Goa elections, AAP seems to have decided to concentrate its attention on Delhi rather than spreading his resources thin in various states. If anything, he seems to have postponed his national ambitions for the time being, at least.