Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal calling off the dharna being enacted outside the Rail Bhawan in a partial compromise with the Union government is being seen as a face-loss for him by many. Renu Mittal explains
Scaling down his demands for the suspension of five police officers, Kejriwal finally agreed to the station house officer and the police control room in-charge being sent on leave, and that too for three days until the enquiry report comes out. The LT Governor made the offer to Kejriwal and his team, who agreed to the offer after holding a long meeting at the Press Club of India.
Sources say that the chief minister was under pressure to end his agitation in view of the Republic Day parade since the full dress rehearsal is to take place on January 23. Along with this the pressure was also building up from the media and the 24-hour television coverage which began to show the Delhi government in a poor light.
Before the dharna was called off, a senior minister in the government made it clear that the Congress would neither withdraw support from the Kejriwal government nor would they consider dismissing the government.
It was said that the Congress made him the chief minister but would “not make a bechara out of him”.
A congress leader said that they would not act against him until January 23, but if by then he had not given up his dharna and vacated the Rail Bhawan premises, then the government would moved to forcibly vacate him from there.
The leader said that he was sure that wisdom would dawn on Kejriwal before that and that he would realise he was also a patriot and that the sanctity of the Republic Day could not be disturbed. The Congress said the Japanese prime minister who is chief guest for the parade had arrived and it was essential that the Parade go ahead as planned.
Since the parade is the baby of the defence forces, the entire area is sanitised and handed over to them, after which the parade takes place. The Congress said sources had made it clear to Kejriwal in back channel talks that he had time only till January 23 as the government would not allow the parade to be disturbed.
The Congress also gave a statement that disturbing the parade was an anti-national act and Kejriwal would bring upon himself the charge of being that since the parade is for the country and not any party or individual.
Sources say that within the Aam Admi Party also there was pressure since the agitation was getting out of hand with a face off between the agitators and the police and the fact there was a lathi charge with people being injured including some policemen.
The Congress is clear that it wants the AAP to keep going till the Lok Sabha elections and put up candidates in at least 300 seats, in a bid to damage the Bharatiya Janata Party and particularly its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in urban seats where he was seen to be doing extremely well.
The BJP is worried about the impact on their election and has now freely begun to club the congress and the AAP, calling it a joint exercise to prop up the waning popularity of the latter.
The AAP would also not be unhappy at their government being dismissed or falling because of lack of numbers since the party is finding it increasingly difficult to fulfill many of its promises and that they feel can affect their popularity in the Lok Sabha elections.
Congress leaders say they have nothing to lose. On the one hand the AAP will lose its sheen in the months ahead and get exposed, and on the other they would be able to damage the BJP in a way that the Congress finds itself unable to do since the ruling party has lost a substantial section of its credibility after 10 years of being in power.
Earlier, the Congress had made an appeal to Kejriwal to withdraw his dharna.
Talking to media persons, Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken urged that Kejriwal give up the protest and get back to his official duties to allow the preparations for the Republic Day celebrations to go ahead.
Kejriwal should realise that he is now the chief minister of Delhi and not the opposition, Maken said. It is time for the CM "to deliver and not crib", he added. Maken condemned the language used by Kejriwal and his party colleagues, especially the manner of their references to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.
Kejriwal should understand that the Republic Day function, in which all the three wings of the Armed forces participate, was a matter of pride for the nation, Maken said as he called upon Aam Aadmi Party to allow the celebrations to take place.
Maken, meanwhile, took the opportunity to make a jibe at BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi over a 36-hour dharna the latter had undertaken some time back in protest against Supreme Court and the Centre over the Narmada project issue.
Claiming that senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley considered Kejriwal to be an anarchist, Maken wondered whether the former felt the same way about Modi. "Modi's 36-hour hunger strike in an air conditioned tent showed that he is a sophisticated anarchist," Maken remarked.