The new look of Arvind Kejriwal:
Is Arvind Kejriwal really a hard line stickler for austerity, severe moral values and ‘plain living and high thinking’? At least the new visual he has cultivated for himself claims so. A typical ‘Kejriwal’ look would be a half sleeve shirt (preferably checked) worn carelessly over the pants complete with rimless glasses and sporting a heraldic moustache. This is the summer dress code. For winter, add a blue or grey pullover, scarf around the head and a cap or both. The eminent designers dub Kejriwal’s dressing style as ‘inimitable’, originating from ‘ideology’ and proximity with reality. Some critics have described his dress code as that of a ‘rail roko’ activist sitting on the tracks to disrupt rail service. Is he really the archetypal ‘aam aadmi’? Not judging the book by the cover, let’s take a closer look at Arvind Kejriwal.
A peek behind the ‘aam aadmi’ façade of Kejriwal – the duplex accommodations controversy:
As of 5th February, 2014 it had been revealed that Arvind Kejriwal had indeed been asking for the two five-bedroomed duplex houses. In fact, he had even gone to the extent of choosing the exact flat numbers. It really comes as a stark contradiction to the tall claims of AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal who had consistently maintained that he had never really asked for the above mentioned accommodations. However, the written communications of Rajendra Kumar, Secretary to Kejriwal, to the Lieutenant Governor (LG) dated 30th December, 2013 speaks otherwise. The letters of Arvind Kejriwal’s secretary specifically mentioned the Chief Minister of Delhi’s earnest wishes of occupying houses numbered 6/7 and 7/7 in the Bhagwan Das Road area of Delhi. The letter also outlined the fact that these houses were actually properties of the DDA, and further specified that the said accommodations should be made available for the use of the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal. The letter had also mentioned the plans of the Government of NCT of Delhi to allocate two type VI houses in place of the chosen accommodations. The LG had ratified the allocations promptly and had instructed the DDA Vice Chairman to furnish a report of acceptance with the LG’s office on that very day.
When the media had broken the news of the allocation of the duplexes to Arvind Kejriwal on January 3rd, 2014, his secretary Rajendra Kumar had been indisposed for any response. The allocations had triggered much a hue and cry amongst the rank and regimes of the AAP. The inevitable question was raised. Why did Kejriwal, whose entire political platform stands on the pillars of austerity, need two lavish houses? The eventual debacle of Kejriwal in the face of intense dismay and grief of the AAP party workers regarding his lavish choice of bunglows, had finally compelled Kejriwal to declare that he was not accepting the allotted duplexes. Following this he had shifted to a three-bedroomed flat in Tilak Lane, which happens to be his current residence. Kejriwal had tried to clear up his position through his Twitter post, “Many ordinary supporters were hurt by houses identified for me by the Delhi Government. As I have always said, I am no one. I am for their service. In accordance with their wishes, I give up these houses and will ask Delhi Government to look for smaller house”.
However, sources had confirmed two facts. The duplexes were chosen by the Government of Delhi in response to the specific requests of the office of the Chief Minister. And secondly, the duplexes were inspected personally by family members of Kejriwal before the media brought the controversy under spotlight. It needs to be mentioned here that the duplexes originally chosen by Kejriwal were indeed very lavish with five bedrooms and a lawn, covering an area of at least 9,000 square feet with a built-up area covering at least 6,000 square feet.
I always had a feeling that Kejriwal had been a born politician. The turn of the events since he became the Chief Minister of Delhi by forming an alliance with the Congress Party, only seem to reaffirm that belief. I have no doubt about the fact that he had used people like Anna Hazare and the raging corruption of our country to pave his shortcut into high level politics. To me, starting from the disheveled ‘aam aadmi’ look, his strict adherence to severity, his concepts of the much clichéd ‘plain living and high thinking’ and his pro-austerity attitude almost bordering fanaticism appear as parts of a carefully designed image.
The concept and belief that Arvind Kejriwal is propagating so hard, that the AAP is a congregation of some special people, devoid of the human lusts for power and money, who have appeared by magic with the only motivation of serving the people and the country, is preposterous. Every political party has some committed members and AAP is no exception. But Kejriwal’s AAP seemed to be a political party different from all other political parties in the world, comprised of an irreproachable special bunch of aliens or saints, with severe moral values and dedicated to the betterment of human beings only. Human beings prefer a government of human beings, not of saints or aliens who are technically much above human sentiments. Also Kejriwal is trying hard to cut out the image of a political maverick deciding what is good for the public who, it seems, is otherwise incapable of understanding what is beneficial for them!
It had been an excellent move of the media to expose the duplexes controversy. The media should also have focused on another aspect of Kejriwal. Kejriwal, instead of appointing separate candidates, had kept important ministerial portfolios like power and home under his control. Does this mean he considers his AAP colleagues too incompetent to handle such portfolios? In the light of the above discussions, will it be an overstatement to say that the personality of Arvind Kejriwal has the ominous smell of a dictator?