Wednesday, 3 August 2016

What has gone wrong with Arvind Kejriwal?

                                   Where is that smiling face?

Once in the habit of calling media to make any announcement or to disclose anything he considered sensational (remember those days when he used to appear on TV channels making all sorts of allegations against his adversaries?), Arvind Kejriwal now hardly invites them.  On July 27, 2016, he created a sort of history by downloading on social media his monologue to give a ‘sensational’ message to his people and also to whomsoever it may concern.   He has been calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi all sorts of names – ‘psychopath’ and ‘coward,” for example – and blaming him for all his woes, whether as Chief Minister of a union territory functioning under several constitutional and legal constraints or as leader of the Aam Aadami Party, but what he said yesterday crossed all limits.  He said: “He can go to any extent and may get us killed.  Modi may get me killed as well.  Talk to your families and see if you are ready for the ultimate sacrifice.  All the MLAs will anyway have to go to jail. If you are ready then stay with us or if you have any weaknesses, then leave.”

No one, not even his worst critics, will ever believe that Modi can stoop so low.  In fact, Kejriwal has no reason to fear that anybody will try to kill him. Political assassinations have being committed in India as elsewhere in the world. Fortunately, Kejriwal has not acquired that stature that anyone will try to assassinate him. 

Then, what could be the reason for such an outburst? Since I have no access to the real reason, I can only make some guess.

One reason could be political, a desperate attempt to gain sympathy which could be used tomorrow if for some reason he resigns.  He did so after the first brief stint as Chief Minister in 2014. To prove that he was committed to eradicate corruption from Delhi, he had hurriedly introduced a Jan Lokpal Bill in the Delhi Assembly without obtaining mandatory prior approval of the Lieutenant Governor. A Lokpal Bill being a money bill –establishment of the institution would require expenditure from the consolidated fund – it cannot be introduced without recommendation of the Head of the State. The Central government requires President’s recommendation (Article 117 of the Constitution). A State government requires Governor’s recommendation (Article 207). Section 22 (3) of the National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 (framed under the 69th Amendment Act) requires Delhi government to obtain LG’s recommendation. The Central government had obtained the Presidential recommendation before introducing the Central Lokpal Bill.

For Delhi government, there is one more condition. Section 55 (1) of Transaction of Business of Government of NCT Rules 1993 requires LG to make a prior reference to the Central government before certain Bills are introduced in the assembly.  Either he was ignorant of the constitutional requirement (not unlikely) or considered it below his ego to take prior permission.  (Even now he continues to ignore constitutional requirement and then blames the LG and the Central Government.) It is also possible that he never expected in 2014 to be Chief Minister.  Perhaps, the burden of the office on his fragile shoulders was too much.  He needed an excuse to get out as a martyr before it was too late. So, instead of wasting time on getting involved in legal disputes with the LG and Central government, he went straight to the Assembly to introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill, knowing full well that non-AAP parties would never support his unconstitutional action. The whole purpose was to have an opportunity to blame everyone – LG, Congress and BJP –for ganging up against the lone crusader.

  Even today he is in an unenviable position.  He has made too many promises to the people of Delhi which he knows he can never fulfil. Just look at the 10 important promises made in the last election manifesto of the AAP. 

(1)   Jan Lokpal within 15 days of coming to power.

 In his second stint, he has been in power for more than 17 months without Jan Lokpal.

(2)   Devolution of Power to People through Mohalla Sabha (MS) in each Mohall of Delhi.

A rudimentary beginning has been made, but it is essentially a utopian idea which can never work satisfactorily.

(3)   To open 500 new schools and appoint 17000 new competent teachers to lower the student-teacher ratio; standard of education in government schools to be equal to the best private schools. By now, more than 100 new schools should have been opened and more than 1700 new competent teachers should have been appointed. 

The Delhi government is nowhere near that.

(4)   To provide high-quality healthcare facilities to all citizens; new government hospitals to ensure international norm of 5 beds for every thousand people as against existing 0.58; to open 900 primary health centres; to immediately fill vacancies of 4000 doctors and 15,000 nurses in government hospitals. 

Again, some beginning has been made, but it is impossible to fulfil even 50% of the target.

(5)   Construction of 2 lakh new public toilets (including one lakh for women) mainly in public spaces and slum areas. 

While the Central government is going ahead at full speed with its toilet construction programme,  the achievements of the Delhi government are not in public knowledge.

(6)   Women’s Rights and Safety to be ensured through  several measures such as effective last-mile connectivity – by providing combination of shared autos, feeder services and e-rickshaws synced with Metro and bus timings – in Delhi’s public transit to reduce number of crimes, Women’s Security Force made up of 10,000 strong home guard,  500 bus marshals to prevent crime on public transport, Surakha/SOS button on every mobile phone  and connectivity to the police, nearest PCR van, relatives and volunteers.

All these promises have remained on paper.

(7)   To improve delivery of justice new courts to be opened and more judges to be appointed; if required, courts will be run in two shifts; special courts to be set up to decide cases pending in lower courts; proceedings of all court cases to be video recorded and made available to citizens.

The district courts being under the administrative and judicial control of the High Court, there is very little that Delhi government can do

(8)   To protect common man from rising prices, black marketers to be arrested, their godowns raided and their hoarded goods to be released so that food grains, vegetables and fruits are available at lower prices.

(9)   Prices have been rising, but we have not heard of arrest of black marketers or raid godowns.

True, he has fulfilled two promises and keeps on reminding the people of his ‘achievements’: cheap power and free water. Electricity bill has been reduced. Every household with metered connection is getting 20 KLs of piped water free. However, he has not fulfilled these promises by any improvement in the system.  He is simply subsidising the services. Moreover, shortage of power continues. In many areas people have to depend on water tankers.

  Kejriwal knows very well that his popularity is on decline.  Even middle class people, auto-rickshaw drivers, housewives who were his supporters have turned against him. Almost every day there are complaints against his MLAs, ministers and even officers.  The AAP has come to be known as party of power-hungry small-time politicians led by an immature person who was overrated by media as well as intelligentsia.   The false hopes created by him cannot last for a long time. He cannot always get away with blaming Narendra Modi and Lieutenant Governor for all his failures.

  Under these circumstances, he may be in search of an excuse to get out and try his luck in a mid-term poll.

  If the reason for his outburst against the Prime Minister is not political, a psychologist or a psychoanalyst may be in a better position to explain his behaviour.  (As we know, a psychologist deals with emotional issues while a psychoanalyst goes beyond immediate emotional issues and tries to find explanation of behaviour in a person’s subconscious memories.)

As a layman, I have tried to understand meaning of various terms used to explain the unusual state of mind. There are several English terms.  I have selected a few from online dictionary.

Delusion:  a mental condition in which a person believes things that are not true.

Generalised anxiety disorder – a mental state in which a person feels very anxious most of the time.

Megalomania – a mental illness in which a person believe she/she is very important and powerful which is not the reality.

Melancholia – a literary word for depression.

Neurosis – a mental condition in which a person behaves in an unusual way or worries all the time about something unimportant or imaginary.

Paranoia – a mental condition that makes a person believe that others dislike him/her and want to cause harm. 

Persecution complex – a mental condition in which one believes that everyone is unfair or cruel to him/her.

Persecutory delusion: a state of mind when a person believes that he/she is being persecuted.  Two central elements are: (a) the person thinks that harm is already occurring, or is going to occur; and (b) he/she thinks that the perceived persecutor has the intention to cause harm.

Personality disorder – a mental or emotional condition that makes it difficult to have good relationship with people in social situations or at work. 

Psychosis – a serious mental condition affecting ability to know what is real and that changes one’s personality and behaviour. 

(Disclaimer:  To avoid any legal action, I am not identifying any of these conditions with Arvind Kejriwal.   I have simply given some food for thought.)

      Whatever the reason, today Kejriwal looks a very frustrated person. That smiling face we were familiar with has disappeared. If he is not able to grow and cope up with the situation but continues to display his immaturity person, it would be a tragedy for Indian politics. Those who were fed up with conventional politicians, looked at him with a ray of hope, because he promised a different type of politics. Unfortunately, either he was not  honest in his intentions from the very beginning or  decided to compromise after tasting power,  his defeat would mean  people no one would believe another Kejriwal.

  Devendra Narain
July 28, 2016

Kejriwal's opposition to demonetisation of high currency notes, the biggest action against corruption and black money, has proved that intellectuals as well as common people failed to see his real intention when he entered politics to fight corruption and gave him unprecedented support in Delhi election.

Devendra Narain
November 25, 2016