BRIBERY BOMB ON KEJRIWAL
No respite for the embattled Arvind Kejriwal. Having somehow wrestled a lid onto one bubbling, hissing pot—Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) founding member Kumar Vishwas’s emotional criticism of the Delhi chief minister, including allegations of turning a blind eye to the corruption of favoured colleagues—Kejriwal missed disaster brewing on another burner. Kapil Mishra, an ally of Vishwas, accused Kejriwal of being personally corrupt. AAP had sacked water minister Mishra for “poor performance”, according to deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia. In response, Mishra alleged he had seen Satyendar Jain, a fellow cabinet minister with several essential portfolios, handing Kejriwal Rs 2 crore at the latter’s home on May 5.
“There is a limit to lying,” Jain said in response, claiming he wasn’t even in Kejriwal’s house on the date in question and that he would be taking Mishra to court. Mishra, meanwhile, posted an extraordinary open letter to Kejriwal on Twitter. “I am going to file an FIR against you today,” he wrote, in Hindi. “My heart is heavy... I am writing this letter to seek your blessing before going to fight my life’s biggest battle against you.” Now suspended from AAP, Mishra has a future writing dialogue for Bollywood potboilers.
Kejriwal responded to the accusations—including talk of a deal for a Rs 50 crore farmhouse for his brotherin-law—with uncharacteristic silence. His wife, instead, came out swinging, tweeting her disgust at “stupid” Mishra’s relentless “scripted” attack on her brotherin-law. In a grim turn, said relative, 60-year-old Surendra Kumar Bansal, died just hours before Mishra made his sensational claims. Kejriwal restrained himself— suspiciously, argued some commentators—to a tweet, and later, a brief denial. Mishra, with much fanfare, went to the CBI, filing three separate FIRs against Kejriwal and other AAP leaders. Asked for a response, AAP spokesman Ashutosh sent an incredulous text message: “No one can doubt Kejriwal’s honesty. Even his opponents would swear by him on this.” That evidently did not include Ajay Maken and Manoj Tiwari, the respective leaders of the Delhi Congress and BJP, both of whom have called for Kejriwal’s resignation.
For the voter, it must seem scarcely believable that Kejriwal would have been so reckless, given his anti-corruption platform. Indeed, the party has been criticised for having no ideas and no ideology other than a commitment to honest governance. If so, how can the AAP possibly survive the muddying of that reputation?
After the initially muted, and perhaps stunned, response to Mishra’s accusations, AAP swung back into belligerent form, staging a hammy ‘hacking’ of an ‘EVM’ machine in the Delhi assembly. Whatever the substance behind the allegations of EVM tampering, it came off as an amateur diversionary tactic. And AAP making a spectacle of itself no longer elicits more from the public than an eye roll.
Kejriwal responded to the accusations with uncharacteristic silence
TURN ABOUT Arvind Kejriwal leaves the Delhi assembly after attending a special session on May 9