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Can Arvind Kejriwal check-mate Narendra Modi?

December 10, 2013 15:23 IST

Can Arvind Kejriwal check-mate Narendra Modi?

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With his new party making a spectacular debut in the Delhi assembly elections, and the non-sectarian nature of his voter base, the question is naturally being asked: Does Arvind Kejriwal have it in him to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate, no less? Vicky Nanjappa finds out.

Along with the accolades that are being showered on Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal for his party’s blockbuster debut in the Delhi assembly polls, some political analysts are also raising a pertinent question about the IITian-turned-government official-turned-activist-turned-politician.

Can he possibly be the political alternative many Indians -- who are squeamish about Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s bid for the top post -- are looking for?

The AAP is reportedly planning to contest from select seats in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.

Given the mercurial nature of Indian politics, can the quietly confident Kejriwal, backed only by his grass-root organisation, actually turn out to be a formidable challenge to the seemingly unstoppable Modi?

 

Rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa spoke to some political experts and sociologists to find out if one day Kejriwal could, indeed, rain on Modi’s parade. Many were of the view that while Kejriwal did represent a major change, at the national level it may take much more time before he could dent Modi.

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Image: Aam Aadmi Party President Arvind Kejriwal and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi


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'Rahul Gandhi carries no conviction'

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Professor Apoorvanand, Delhi University:

Looking at the way Kejriwal has been growing I see a distinct possibility that he may pose a threat or alternative to Modi. People want a credible face who displays confidence in what he or she says. Parties like the Congress which are considered to be secular dithered on this confidence. The Congress does not want to be seen as helping the Muslims as they fear they may anger the Hindus. An alternate would be looked into since the secularism of the Congress is empty and Rahul Gandhi does not carry any conviction. An arrogant Congress does not even allow another face to emerge.

"There is a yearning for alternate politics. What the AAP did in Delhi, it should do in other parts. It should contest all seats since the people will feel they are serious. Symbolism never works."

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Image: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi


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'People tend to change after tasting power'

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Justice Santosh Hegde, former judge, Supreme Court of India:

I worked with Kejriwal on the Jan Lokpal Bill. Indeed, it has been a wonderful performance by him and the Aam Aadmi Party.

"What the AAP has managed to do is to show that there is a way out of the existing political system. Kejriwal has laid out before the people the manner in which a democracy can function and he has shown that there is hope.

"It remains to be seen whether he can check-mate Narendra Modi. It is one thing to speak when one is not in power; it is a whole different ball game when one is running the government. When not in power, men speak piously. The real test begins only when one becomes the ruler. People do tend to change after tasting power."

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Image: Narendra Modi


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'Kejriwal is just a flash in the pan'

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Ashwin Mahesh, leader of Lok Satta and social technologist:

It is too early to say what is possible. One thing is clear, that India is getting ready for purposeful politics. Purposeful politics, not power, should be the primary motivation. The main reason why the AAP got so many votes is because people believed that they cared.

"I have no interest in Modi. What we are trying to do is bring up a child, not compete."

R Vaidynathan, Professor of Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore:

Who is worried about the Aam Aadmi Party, except those in Delhi? In a celebration of the AAP’s success in Chennai on Monday, there were not more than 12 people.

"Even activist Anna Hazare could not attract more than a thousand people to the fasts he held outside Delhi. The AAP won in Delhi because the people were unhappy with other parties.

"Kejriwal is just a flash in the pan. A survey done by the AAP had indicated that people will vote for Kejriwal in Delhi but they will vote for Modi in the Lok Sabha election. It is one thing to govern at a local level and another thing completely to govern at the national level."

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Image: Arvind Kejriwal


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