Why and how did Arvind Kejriwal and Anna Hazare part ways? What have been the fall-outs of this parting of ways and are there likely to be fall-outs in the coming days? Will their separate paths and fall-outs have a political impact? Here is the inside story on all this and more…
After the recent shameful incidents in Parliament on 13 February, on 14 February there was an event which will be registered in the history of the country in the form of a debate. The Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, resigned from his post in a situation where the Jan Lokpal Bill could not be presented in the Assembly. In fact, the very existence of Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party has relied and rested on the Jan Lokpal. From its campaigning days itself this party had placed the subject and issue of the Jan Lokpal, which had sprouted from Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, at the centre of their politics. This is the reason why when the Centre passed the Jan Lokpal Bill, the Aam Aadmi Party saw its issue slipping out of its hand, and came out in the open against the decision of the Government.
At that time Anna Hazare too had said that I have brought the battle till here, those people who can improve on it should come forward. Because Arvind Kejriwal was opposed to the Jan Lokpal passed by the Central Government, there was pressure on him to pass the more utilitarian Jan Lokpal framed by him. A few days before this Anna Hazare had said that he had not seen the changes incorporated in Arvind Kejriwal’s Jan Lokpal, but according to what he had been told, on that basis they seemed better and should the Jan Lokpla should be passed. However, whether Arvind Kejriwal’s Jan Lokpal is more utilitarian or the Central Government’s Jan Lokpal is more ultilitarian is not an issue for debate. But Arvind Kejriwal has proved through the medium of his resignation that his party’s ideology is different from that of the BJP and the Congress. Alongside, from the Parliament to the streets he has encircled these two big parties with the question that for them every issue is limited only to the vote bank, what will be its culmination, does not have any meaning for them.
Many questions still remain, but in the dilemmas of all these questions, it is the people of the country who will get trapped. There is still the question before the public : did Arvind Kejriwal give in his resignation for them or for himself? There is still a question before the public: did MP’s use pepper spray in Parliament for them or for themselves? The equations of these questions can be understood from the lines of a poem by noted Hindi poet, Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena, which when translated reads in essence, ‘The more the questions are increasing, the answers are decreasing; an entire country is unconscious even while being conscious; what an amazing country’.
Another aspect which should be discussed is whether by resigning Arvind Kejriwal has martyred himself or whether it was a calculated step. Arvind Kejriwal ignored the opinion of jurists on the Jan Lokpal, ignored the authority of the Central Government and the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, from the beginning ignored such technical difficulties even though he was aware of them, and did not share them with the public. Whenever such difficulties were brought before him he always said I didn’t know about them. The Arvind Kejriwal who undertook a plebiscite among the people of Delhi on whether to form a Government or not, did not ask for any opinion from the public when it came to the issue of resigning and the fall of his Government. Despite all this, it is certainly unfortunate that Arvind Kejriwal was not allowed to give his opinions on the issue of the Jan Lokpal and the subsequent collapse of his Government on this issue.
There are many questions, but in the dilemmas of all these questions, it is the people of the country who will get trapped. There is a question before the public : did Arvind Kejriwal give in his resignation for them or for himself? Much before this, after Arvind Kejriwal had parted ways from Anna Hazare, the latter had explained to people when on his country-wide Jantantra yatra that Vidhan Sabhas or legislative assemblies did not change the policies of the country; the policies of the country were changed from the Lok Sabha. And these explanations of Anna Hazare’s at the many meetings he held in various States revealed that he had told Arvind Kejriwal not to contest the assembly elections but Arvind Kejriwal did not listen to him and went ahead and fought the elections, believing that he will win in Delhi, make it a model State from which the country will benefit and the whole country will be ready to adopt this exercise or experiment. Anna wanted to fight only one election and that was the Lok Sabha election.
On 8 February this year, Anna Hazare took part for the first time in a meeting of Gandhians at the Gandhi Peace Foundation in Delhi. Actually, this meeting was less a meeting of Gandhians and more a very clever move through Gandhians to make Anna stand in favour of the Aam Aadmi Party. Many people gave speeches and all the speeches had one thrust – that everyone everywhere should support the Aam Aadmi Party. There were also such Gandhians who had, for the last three-four months, been holding meetings in their towns, cities or areas and wanted to become Aam Aadmi Party candidates and contest for the Lok Sabha. There were some
people too who were supporting Arvind Kejriwal so that they could send their family members to the Lok Sabha. Anna sat silent and heard what everyone had to say, not saying anything. But when people urged him to speak, he said that I do not agree with your views. Immediately, there was such consternation as if a snake had entered the meeting of Gandhians. At that point Anna Hazare spoke about his 17 point agenda for the country and his support for Mamata Banerjee, who was supporting his agenda.
The people sitting in that Gandhian meeting were even more startled by Anna’s praise for Mamata Banerjee. Actually, they were very startled and very disappointed because their attempt to make Anna stand in favour of the Aam Aadmi Party in the name of Gandhiji had been rendered unsuccessful. The speech which Anna Hazare gave at the Gandhi Peace Foundation and his earlier interaction at the ‘Idea Exchange’ programme of the Indian Express where he had clearly expressed his dissatisfaction with the running of the Delhi Government, startled Arvind Kejriwal as well. While Anna was in Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal went alone to meet Anna Hazare at Maharashtra Sadan and said to him that there are misunderstandings, somebody has been misguiding you. Anna listened to what he was saying. There were only two people in that meeting — Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. Arvind left after 20 minutes. Arvind Kejriwal came to meet Anna again the next day and this time there were with him all the learned members of his team. Discussions were held in a closed room between Arvind Kejriwal’s team and Anna Hazare. After emerging from the meeting Arvind Kejriwal and his colleagues gave this impression that now Anna himself will give a statement in their favour and will support them. Anna did not say anything in Delhi, but once he left Delhi and reached Pune, all he said in favour of Arvind was that if what Arvind had told him, if it was the same Jan Lokpal Bill they were bringing in, it is good. In Pune Anna also gave an interview to a TV channel in favour of Mamata Banerjee.
On 11 February Anna studied the whole situation afresh and reached the conclusion that he will give another chance to Arvind Kejriwal if Arvind supports his economic policies in writing and gives an affidavit to the people. Considering the number of ‘ornamental’ words which Arvind Kejriwal’s associates and his team which attacked Anna in the social media gave to Anna, seeing them Anna should not even have been thinking about Arvind Kejriwal, but this is the difference between Anna and Arvind Kejriwal. Anna Hazare believes that for the sake of the country it is better to even swallow a bitter draught or bear an insult. Even till today there were some vestiges of hope for Arvind Kejriwal in Anna’s mind, but what feelings or what strategy is there are in the minds of Arvind Kejriwal and his associates for Anna, nothing can be said about that with any certainty.
On 13 February the General Secretary of the Trinamool Congress, Mukul Roy, and Rajya Sabha MP, K. D. Singh, reached Anna’s village Ralegan Siddhi and met Anna. They greeted Anna by presenting him with a shawl sent by Mamata and began talks with Anna on the political situation. Emerging from the meeting, Anna told the waiting media that I think Mamata Banerjee is worthy of being the Prime Minister and I will campaign for making her the Prime Minister. Not only that, I will also campaign in favour of the Trinamool Congress and will ask people to vote for it. This was Anna’s own decision. Anna took this decision after seeing the character of all the political parties in India. He saw only in Mamata Banerjee that fire which could produce the energy to change the economic policy in India. He saw in Mamata Banerjee the simplicity of Lal Bahadur Shastri which could energise the people of the country to oppose PL 480 wheat from America. Anna said without any hesitation that in the coming elections he would campaign for Mamata Banerjee and would also make her the Prime Minister.
At the same time Anna also said that Arvind Kejriwal still has time, if he so desires, he can come with me. Otherwise, I will appeal to the people of the country to make only – and only — Mamata Banerjee win in the coming elections. And now, it has happened. Mamata Banerjee’s support by Anna could create problems for many political parties in this country and political parties are also very worried about it, but the people are happy about it. Mamata Banerjee has told Anna that outside West Bengal, she will give a ticket to whoever Anna wants. Whichever candidates Anna wants, she will give them ground in the Trinamool Congress as Anna’s candidates. Anna Hazare wants to make independent candidates stand as well, besides campaigning for all those who will want to fight on Mamata’s election symbol. But there is an apprehension in the mind of Anna – that how will independent candidates be able to tell the people about their election symbols in such a short time. However, to change the system, Anna wants to adopt all possible ways in this election. But Anna is totally clear on this : that a candidate will have to give an affidavit to work for the people, will have to take an oath to work for the people, in the affidavit giving in a resignation will have to mentioned if he is found not working, along with fighting for the 17 point economic programme in Parliament.
As I had said earlier, many questions still remain, but in the dilemmas of all these questions, it is the people of the country who will get trapped. There is still the question before the public : did Arvind Kejriwal give in his resignation for them or for himself? There is still a question before the public: did MP’s use pepper spray in Parliament for them or for themselves? The equations of these questions can be understood from the lines of a poem by noted Hindi poet, Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena, which when translated reads in essence, ‘The more the questions are increasing, the answers are decreasing; an entire country is unconscious even while being conscious; what an amazing country’.