New Delhi: Games that Aam Admi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal plays to strike hard bargains has been the hallmark of his politics since he entered active politics in 2013 and now he continues to follow his time tested tactics when he declared that he would walk out of the opposition parties meeting in Patna on June 23.
Kejriwal knows that the AAP can only prosper and expand at the cost of the Congress as has been the case in Delhi and Punjab where it has been able to come to power in the last 10 years.
While it appeared that Congress leader Ajay Maken’s attack on the AAP on Sunday was a setback to the opposition efforts to present a united front to the BJP in the 2024 elections, in fact Kejriwal has been trying to project the Congress as a villain in popular eyes since the talks of the opposition unity began.
The AAP supremo knows that the AAP being a small party will generate more sympathy in public minds because the Congress is big and that is why he has been targeting the Congress since his entry into the public domain ring the India Against Corruption movement led by Anna Hazare. It is a public knowledge that the India Against Corruption movement was inspired, financed and covertly supported by the RSS and the BJP. A large number of RSS volunteers could be seen participating in that movement, a fact that the Congress cannot forget. AAP entered the Assembly poll arena in Gujarat, Goa and other states only to diminish chances of the Congress and help the BJP win.
AAP eating into Congress support base
The AAP has been focusing on the Congress ruled states or where the country’s oldest party is strong. The classic case was in Gujarat where the AAP helped the BJP to win again in the last years assembly election. In Goa, Himachal Pradesh earlier and now in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the AAP has been leaving no stone unturned to make political inroads by eating into Congress support base.
Ajay Maken made it more than obvious when he said, "On the one hand, Arvind Kejriwal is seeking support of the Congress. Then he goes to Rajasthan and gives statements against one of our senior-most leaders, a three-time Chief Minister, Ashok Gehlot, and Sachin Pilot, one of the very senior leaders and a former minister," Maken said in a video statement on Sunday.
So do they (AAP) really want the support of the Congress or make peace with us?" Maken said.
"What AAP's chief spokesman said on Monday is nothing new. They gave statements against the Congress even on the day of the all-party meet," he added, accusing Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of being in league with the BJP.
"The point is he (Kejriwal) does not want to go to jail -- for which all preparations have been made since he had indulged in corruption," added the Delhi Congress leader, who have been hawkish on AAP for years.
'Both Congress, BJP corrupt'
Kejriwal had taken on the Rajasthan Chief Minister last week at a campaign rally in the state, where elections are due by the year-end.
"When we were coming here, we saw Gehlot Saheb has put up his posters all over Ganganagar and around this stadium. I want to tell him that if he had worked for the last five years, he would not have to do this," Kejriwal had said at a rally last Sunday.
"Both the parties (Congress and BJP) are involved in corruption. During Vasundhara Raje's government, Ashok Gehlot used to accuse them of corruption. When Ashok Gehlot's government came to power, Sachin Pilot kept asking him to arrest Vasundhara Raje but Ashok Gehlot said, "I will not arrest her, she is like my sister," Kejriwal had added.
The AAP-Congress troubled relation
Bringing AAP and the Congress on board for a united opposition is one of the most challenging tasks undertaken by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The two parties have been at loggerheads since AAP swept the Congress out of power nearly a decade ago and has been growing at its cost since. After the party's sweeping victory in Punjab last year, Kejriwal is focusing on Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
Now, AAP has declared that it would not be part of the united opposition unless Congress publicly opposes the Centre's executive order taking away the control over bureaucrats in Delhi.
The Congress is playing its card carefully and is not committing its support to AAP on the ordinance issue, though party chief Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi have said there is no question of supporting "anything moved by the BJP".
In fact, if the Congress did not support the AAP on the Ordinance issue or abstained from voting in the Rajya Sabha, it will be doing a political hara-kiri as it will be seen as a step away from the united opposition stand.
Kejriwal, by indulging in clever mind game is only harming the first sincere bid by opposition parties to seriously take on the BJP whose foundation was laid in Patna on June 23. He is acting too smart as his small time politics will only damage the main objective of dislodging the BJP that is out to subvert the federal principles that alone protect rights of the states like Delhi.