Arvind Kejriwal is incorrigible. One of the biggest hypocrites in politics, he always blames others for his own follies. The Election Commission last week ordered the disqualification of 20 Aam Aadmi Party legislators in Delhi. They were all found guilty of holding the office of profit. Predictably, it elicited a barrage of abuse and name-calling for every other constitutional authority, instead of a humble admission that he had breached the provision when he appointed them parliamentary secretaries without prior sanction. In 2015, following a split in the AAP, which led to the expulsion of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, Kejriwal hurriedly bestowed these sinecures on the MLAs lest they make common cause with Yadav and Bhushan.
The Election Commission was seized of the matter on a complaint filed by an activist lawyer who has no known political connections. Conscious that these appointments came under the mischief of the said office of the profit clause, Kerjiwal sought to lend legitimacy to the flagrant act by amending the provision with a retrospective effect. The move misfired and was rejected by the sanctioning authority. Since then, the AAP government resorted to every delaying tactics to prevent the EC from hearing the complaint, including questioning its authority and approaching the High Court for the dismissal of the complaint. When all this failed, the impugned MLAs resorted to time-wasting tricks, with each one of them fielding his own lawyer to offer identical and long-winded defense.
At least six MLAs boycotted the proceedings, blandly questioning the EC’s authority to entertain the complaint. The plain fact is that the Delhi Government has a sanctioned power to appoint, but only one parliamentary secretary. It is not important whether a pecuniary benefit is drawn by such appointments, the very fact of holding an office-of-profit in breach of the legal provision attracts disqualification. Earlier, Sonia Gandhi had had to resign her parliamentary seat when it was found that her being the chairperson of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, which received funds from government and semi-government bodies, was in violation of the provision. Likewise, Jaya Bachchan had to resign from the Rajya Sabha when she was found to be holding an office of profit as the head of the UP State film development corporation.
She was sent back to the RS by the then ruling Samajwadi Party Government after she had resigned the above-mentioned chairmanship. However, in the case of the AAP MLAs, they refuse to admit that anything illegal was done and abuse the Election Commission, calling him an agent of the prime minister. In the past, Kejriwal has used the foulest possible invective against several other constitutional authorities. His paranoia and holier-than-thou act has few takers now. Lacking the basic skills to administer Delhi, he has indulged in public recriminations and petty fights with various authorities, trying to hoodwink his constituency of free-paani, free-bijlee into believing that everyone had ganged up against him. The truth is that he has no clue about governance, his government is as corrupt as any before him, but the only difference is that AAP is constantly at war with the central government and others who exercise the constitutional powers to restrain him from exceeding the legally laid-down powers of the Delhi Government.
Though the disqualified MLAs will seek the intervention of the High Court, the law is clear. The order cannot be reversed. The EC recommendation will go to the President who is bound to approve it, as was the case earlier in all such recommendations. In short, there will be fresh elections for 20 Assembly seats sometime later this year. That may not be a test of Kejriwal’s popularity, given the three-way split of votes between AAP, the BJP and the Congress, but there can be no denying that the AAP has proven to be a huge disappointment. It had emerged from Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign in 2013, but soon Kejriwal’s lust for power and a weakness for money turned it into a one-man show with everyone else expected to play a courtier. The recent nominations to the Rajya Sabha was a further blow to his credibility with an outsider moneybag being chosen over several founding members of the party. The fact is that the hoax that Kejriwal has no one else but himself to blame if the AAP now lies in tatters. He is not the victim that he claims to be. No, he is the main villain of the AAP. His hubris has wrecked the party.