A masterstroke: ‘Mein Sunita Kejriwal….

The words may have been read from a script but the impact was not lost. Her words pierced many hearts. She could be playing politics but the concern for her husband’s well-being overrode all else. SPOTLIGHT by KUMKUM CHADHA

“Mein Sunita, Arvind Kejriwal ki dharm patni”, I, Sunita, Arvind Kejriwal’s wife: her words pierced many hearts; her distraught persona stumped others. 

The words may be rehearsed or read from a script but the impact was not lost: Here was a wife who was worried about the fate of her husband. 

Yet she had a duty to perform and that she did deftly. She could be playing politics but clearly the concern for her husband’s safety and well-being overrode all else. 

But she did not falter and conveyed what she had been asked to: her husband’s arrest; his being there to serve and every drop of his blood for the country: “I was born to fight. This arrest does not rattle me. There are many more fights lined up for me in the future too…” Kejrwal is quoted to have said, via Sunita, his wife.

She spoke for a little over three minutes. Her anxiety was palpable. More than the content, it was the tone and tenor that stole hearts. It was less about the message and more about the messenger; in this case, Sunita Kejriwal. On this count, she scored. 

Therefore “fielding” Sunita was AAP’s best bet to mouth her husband’s sugar-coated missive: sugar coated because he advocated “brotherhood” for the BJP: “Do not hate the people from BJP. They are our brothers and sisters,” Kejriwal is quoted to have said. 

If Kejriwal professed love for his opponents, he also batted for women. Once again Sunita mouthed Kejriwal’s lines underlining the worry of the women from Delhi: With “son and brother” Kejriwal in jail, will they get the rupees 1000 allowance?  

The obvious reference is to the scheme for women above 18 years to get Rs 1000 per month that Kejriwal had announced.

Apart from whipping up sympathy, it was an attempt to woo the women voters: quite like the Mein Sunita, Arvind Kejriwal ki dharm patni masterstroke.

Sift emotion from politics and the knives are out. There is the AAP crying foul versus the BJP saying that they have done the “holika dahan of corruption”.  

 For the uninitiated, Holika dahan precedes the main festival of colours and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. 

Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on March 21 in a money laundering case that popularly came to be known as the ‘liquor scam’.

Kejriwal is the third leader to be arrested in this case after Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh who have been languishing in jail for several months now. The ED had also arrested another AAP minister Satyendra Jain for acquiring assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. 

That Kejriwal arrest was on the cards was a given. The Government can cry hoarse about the law taking its course, but the BJP’s fingerprints are more than visible. 

Central agencies do work under the government of the day and often bend over backwards to follow directions motivated by political considerations. Else, how would one explain the overzealousness of these agencies to go knocking the doors of only those who belong to opposition parties? Is this to suggest that there are no black sheep among the ruling elite? 

It is no one’s case to let off the guilty simply because they belong to the class of political elites. Neither is it to suggest that Kajriwal is a saint. Far from that. 

If his track record is anything to go by, he is unscrupulous and would go any lengths to achieve his end, political or otherwise. His entire crusade against corruption is eyewash. For someone whose political career began with cornering the then UPA government on corruption following the 2G and Commonwealth games scam, to forge an electoral alliance with the same party, Kejriwal’s journey is one of contradictions. 

Therefore when Anna Hazare, the original crusader, says that the arrest of the AAP chief is because of “his own deeds,” he is bang on. 

Hazare, it may be recalled, was at the helm of the anti-corruption movement where Kejriwal was a foot-soldier. That he out-beat others and rose to be a political fulcrum is another matter. 

But this is less about Kejriwal and more about the BJP’s game-play. It is about its nefarious designs to crush the Opposition and more particularly those who pose a threat to its self-styled invincibility. Kejriwal is one such. Preceding him was Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren who was also arrested some two months ago in a less than ten acre land case. 

Therefore while there are takers for the gallows for the corrupt theory, there is also unanimity on the timing gone horribly wrong theory about recent arrests. 

It is the why now question that seems to haunt the BJP and is also top of the mind for an electorate bracing for an election in a few weeks. 

The BJP could drum beat the logic of agencies and courts doing their work but they cannot wipe out the perception of this being vendetta politics of the ruling party: a politics which smacks of our way or the highway principle; a politics which says that swim with us else you will sink; a politics that spells vengeance and unfair play and one that strips political opponents of a level playing field. 

In Kejriwal’s case as also in Soren’s, it takes away the opportunity for them to effectively campaign for their respective parties in the forthcoming elections. Hence to merely say that the timing is suspect is down-playing the BJP’s intent and design. 

This then brings us to the crucial question: is the BJP nervous about the outcome of the forthcoming elections? Is the is baar 400 paar, winning 400 seats, a mere hype? And more importantly could the 2004 India Shining campaign repeat itself?

NDA’s India Shining campaign was the key slogan of Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2004 but it was an election that Vajpayee, a popular Prime Minister, lost. 

A 2004 repeat is far-fetched because a win this time around seems certain: what is not are the number of seats: the 400 paar figure is kind of a pipedream. 

It is here that one needs to juxtapose the nervous versus overconfidence syndrome: if the BJP is as confident that it is projecting itself to be then why is it orchestrating arrests of opponents? These acts do not point towards a party bracing for a comfortable and easy win. 

In this context, it is not the win that the BJP is nervous about: on that score it is perhaps overconfident because with Modi at the helm and his welfare schemes tucked under his arm, BJP will, in all likelihood, have a smooth sail. 

The nervousness is about the number of seats it will bag, the numbers being crucial for it to push its agenda. 

In the BJP’s current scheme of things, every seat counts and it will do what it takes to win it. And it is this desperation that is, perhaps, behind the ill-fated move of arresting opponents which political prudence sees as suicidal. It is no rocket science to guess that in one single stroke, BJP has made a hero out of an ordinary politician like Arvind Kejriwal. 

Given that BJP is a past master at strategy, this could not be a mistake. In fact it finds itself in a no way out situation which has pushed it into taking this fatal step. And this stems out of nervousness of the numbers which the Party feels could elude it. 

Therefore to the question whether BJP is nervous or overconfident, the answer is simple: BJP is vacillating between the two: overconfidence of winning and clearly nervous about the numbers.