Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Office of Profit - Can people's perception about Kejriwal, AAP change forever ?

If Narendra Modi has been more of a globe trotter and at best only “a poll-bound leader”, Arvind Kejriwal is at best a Twitter-bound leader. On the social networking sites, he has been taking names and most regularly trying to take on Indian Prime Minister. He behaves as the principal challenger to Modi with or without merits. A section of media as also net-savvy Indians seem to cherish his vitriolic against Narendra Modi - as they perhaps draw sadistic pleasure at his undiluted Modi bashing.

But as Delhi is a mere Union Territory, there are mandatory provisions that Delhi's Chief Minister has limited powers. Laws passed by his cabinet and the Delhi assembly ought to be endorsed by the central government and has a Presidential assent. So when the Kejriwal government moved the amendment bill to exclude his army of 21 Parliamentary Secretaries from the provisions of Office of Profit laws or precedents, the AAP government indeed wanted "retrospective" exemption for the parliamentary secretaries from disqualification provisions.

But on June 13, 2016, the President Pranab Mukherjee declined to give his assent to the relevant papers submitted to him through the office of the Delhi Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung and the central government. The President's decision has sparked off row raising questions over the fate of 21 AAP MLAs - on whether they should be disqualified. Earlier, petitions were filed with the President seeking disqualification of the MLAs on the ground that they "occupied office of profit" in violation of the Constitution.

In the past, Sonia Gandhi, a member of Lok Sabha, had to resign her seat in 2006 over the controversy pertaining to the chairperson of National Advisory Council (NAC). Samajwadi Party MP in Rajya Sabha and actress Jaya Bachachan also lost her seat for holding the post of chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Federation.

So the chorus is obvious - both the Congress and the BJP now want his legislators disqualified. "This is an open and shut case," stated BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi while Congress leader Ajay Maken thinks disqualification is imminent and he is already urging Congressmen and women for a major by-elections to these 21 assembly seats.

Meenakshi Lekhi

"Abhi unko kotwal saabh ka danda yaad aa raha hae (Now they are getting scared of the long hand of the law). They (AAP government) have been caught on the wrong foot", she said adding, "the disrespect they have shown to the constitutional authorities and institutions" are good enough to take care of the wrongdoers.

Ironically, many say, the trouble that has hit the Kejriwal government is their own making.
“It is like the end of the road of tricks and game of baseless allegations, pursued by the party,” says a Congress leader. There are already reports of dissension among the rank and file and even among the 21 AAP legislators – some say Kejriwal could have had less of the problems had he not taken a cantankerous approach towards everyone around him. He truly behaves likes an "anarchist Chief Minister". 

“Kejriwal presumed, he could do no wrong or others are too novice to catch his trick. In the process, he fought almost on daily basis with the Delhi Lt Governor Jung and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” commented former AAP leader. 

It is a season when Arvind Kejriwal is making news, but he is doing so for all wrong reasons
-      It is the season of troubles for Arvind Kejriwal, onetime anti-corruption activist and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi. On June 20, Delhi Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) filed a FIR against him and former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in a water tanker scam.

Kejriwal’s Transport Minister Gopal Rai also has meanwhile landed into trouble over a bus scheme.  But what would seriously impact the image of the party and its leadership is the controversy pertaining to the appointment of Parliamentary Secretary. In simple words; the Kejriwal government went ahead with the appointment without adequate powers in hands. 

But power-smitten leader that he is, Kejriwal is unwilling to learn lessons though he has grown defensive in last few days. He virtually ran away from a press conference - albeit in a display of arrogance and was discourteous - and in another media briefing simply smiled at uncomfortable questions. 

The BJP appears is working with a plan and has in last one week cornered him from various fronts. 

Even those who sympathise with Kejriwal and his government say the “Office of Profit” episode has “beaten” the AAP credibility. Worse it has been hit not politically but “by the long hand of the law”. 

Hence, it is a shocking commentary of a political party that was born on anti-corruption platform and following the noble steps of Gandhian simplicity as pronounced by Anna Hazare. It has also come to light that the Kejriwal government acted in the manner of the appointment of 21 Parliamentary Secretary despite formal cautioning by two senior officials not to do so. The Principal Secretary Law in Delhi government had advised Kejriwal that the route of appointment of Parliamentary Secretary if not sanctioned by new law and approval of the President was not sustainable.
Still, he did not listen!
Working to a plan!

The ‘Office of profit’ has certainly left the AAP and its self-virtuous leader Arvind Kejriwal on back foot. He is actually caught violating the constitutional norms. All claims of holier than thou politics is over. This would certainly mark a key feature of his incredibly active political life. He today stands beaten by the long hand of the law.

There are already murmurs that the likes of Manish Sisodia, his trusted colleague till date, understands how things have been mishandled.

Kejriwal will do well to realize that this episode can forever change people’s perception about AAP. 


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