By targetting Jaitley, Kejriwal has left Modi and BJP bruised on several fronts


Apoorv Pathak

The whispers about the rampant corruption in the DDCA had long existed before Arvind Kejriwal put the messy affairs of the cricket body in spotlight.

When Kejriwal initially talked about the DDCA, it was believed to be diversionary tactics to save his favourite officer. But a fortnight hence Kejriwal has not stopped harping on the DDCA scam and the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s role in it, even braving a criminal defamation case in the process.

Kejriwal, to the surprise of many has succeeded in keeping the nation’s attention fixed on Jaitley’s sins of omission and commission when he was at helm of DDCA(Just yesterday in an NDTV interview Kejriwal added sex scandal to the list of allegations).

This is a political masterstroke for AAP for varied reasons discussed below which also provide us good glimpse into politics of AAP.

Tarnishes Image of Modi government

Modi government, bruised by the recent electoral drubbing, is vulnerable now to attacks from the opponents. There is palpable disappointment with under-delivery on the economic front. At such a stage, the last thing his government would have wanted was to have the integrity of its top minister being called into question. Also as the budget session is only 2 months away, dispensing with the FM at this stage would be unthinkable.

Targeting Jaitley also allows Kejriwal to tarnish Modi government (for whom he has no love lost) as being protective of corrupts with not much the government can do to cut its losses. And as Kejriwal’s considers Modi government its biggest adversary, it suits AAP to see its rival get weakened .

Weakens Modi Government’s media link

When Modi most needs a person like Jaitley to manage media in the face of the growing rambling on various fronts,  Kejriwal has hit the government’s media link. Most people in media would tell you Jaitley is the government’s crucial go-between link with media, the source many articles often refer to.

In picking on Jaitley, he has also targeted this cosy relationship that he historically shared with the media. This has been a public knowledge for quite sometime, but nobody had the courage to speak about it. By highlighting this aspect, Kejriwal has created the unease and distrust in media’s interaction with him further reducing the government’s ability to manage its perception.

Positions AAP as Modi’s leading rival

As the BJP has become the central axis of Indian politics, any emerging force must rise in opposition to BJP. AAP knows that the more it is able to emerge as the real challenger to Modi and BJP, the more it will grow.

So there is a method to the madness of constant tussle with Modi and his central government. It allows AAP to gain sympathy from anti-Modi voters and paves the way for its future expansion into rest of India.

Therefore, targeting Jaitley makes perfect sense because it puts AAP into centre stage as the leading rival of Modi government. Just see how despite winning a larger state Nitish Kumar has disappered from the national narrative while AAP has managed to keep itself in the news either through this battle or through the odd even policy.

Strengthen Kejriwal’s image of giant slayer and anti corruption crusader

In his trademark style, by targeting a giant who few before him dared to question, Kejriwal is further playing to the gallery of his supporters, who love him for just this bravery and unconventional style of politics. By occasionally targeting high and mighty in such a manner Kejriwal is able to maintain the image of being an outsider to the system even when he is in the system. The public enjoys the spectacle of a powerful man being dragged down and Kejriwal provides them that spectacle.

Exposing corruption of the powerful is also a considerably effective tool for Kejriwal to refurnish his own credentials as an anti-corruption crusader. Kejriwal has mastered this art to perfection and that is again on display in how he is playing his cards in the DDCA affair.

The last word on the DDCA row is yet to be spoken but Kejriwal has already managed to make full political capital out of Jaitley’s misadventure. This gives us a glimpse into the astute underestimated politician that kejriwal is. It is this political acumen that has made him rise from an activist with middle class background to being one of India’s leading politicians. And once again in this DDCA affair, Kejriwal has managed to beat the traditional rivals at their own game.

Apoorv Pathak has studied at IIT Roorkee. Views expressed here are his own.