Media Watch: Are Aam Aadmi Party's days numbered in Delhi ?
Daijiworld Media Network - New Delhi
New Delhi, Jan 16: Politics in Delhi is taking a dramatic turnaround, and in just 18 days of taking over the helm in Delhi, Kejriwal's fortunes seem to be showing a downward trend. The same media which waxed eloquent about him just over a fortnight ago has begun to hound him now.
If a leader called Arvind Kejriwal has been born today, UPA 2 is totally responsible. Kejriwal rose from Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement demanding Jan Lokpal. Though he was instrumental in RTI movement, Kejriwal's identity was largely revealed to the public through Lokpal Andolan whoch started in early 2011. Had UPA government taken Anna's movement seriously, AAP perhaps would never have been born. After the government's failure to act on the Lokpal bill, Kejriwal found he could fight for justice only by being party of the system. Parting away from Anna, Kejriwal announced his AAP party in October 2012. The rest is history.
Media played significant a role in AAP's rise. Right from Anna's Lokpal movement, until the Delhi election, media gave several hundred front page stories, plenty of live and prime time coverage, and enormous amount of bandwidth in the webspace. This created a huge negative impact on Congress and other UPA allies. Even BJP's PM candidate, a man like Modi was put on the backfoot due to media's sole attention on AAP and its leader Kejriwal.
When AAP won 28 seats in last year December's assembly polls, Kejriwal's market value rose sky high, and not only the Indian media, even the international media started giving prominence to him and his party.
However, over the last 4-5 days, a turnaround of sorts is being witnessed in the three forms of Indian media - TV, print and the web. The same media and the same people who were praising AAP 24x7, have now taken a U-turn. A few big names who were full of praise for AAP, are now slowly backing out. Is this a trick by the Congress and BJP to eliminate AAP's waves from Indian politics ? Is media selective and even moody, or are some of the big media houses dancing to the tunes of other major political parties of India? Nothing can be ruled out.
Media seems determined not to allow Kejriwal to recover from his 'Janata Darbar' debacle. Kejriwal realised that Janata Darbar was far from reality after unexpected and unprecedented response from the people. Though Kejriwal did not accept the failure, he promised on the same day that Darbar would be back in 5 days' time with better security and at a bigger place. Soon, Intelligence report stated that the AAP leader and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had serious threat to life from Delhi's water and tender lobby. This led Kejriwal to give up his Darbar altogether, and he announced that people could lodge complaints through websites, call centres and postal letters. Media took this up as Kejriwal's failure.
Even as Janata Darbar remained a wish unfufilled, came yet another and more troubling setback for Kejriwal. His law minister Somnath Bharti, a lawyer by profession, was accused of tampering with an evidnce in a court case. The Delhi chief minister defended the law minister, asserting that his cabinet colleague did not tamper with evidence in any case he was handling last year. But the BJP and Congress pounced on Bharti and BJP demanded that he quit. Bharti too defended himself.
According to a media report, an order was passed by the then CBI special judge Poonam A Bamba in which she pulled up Bharti and his client Pawan Kumar — facing prosecution on corruption charges — after the CBI accused them of influencing a prosecution witness by speaking to him on phone and discussing the case.
"Somnath Bharti was trying to save a junior level officer and the sting operation that has been done is being called tampering of evidence by the judges," Kejriwal told reporters.
Revolt in AAP
The last thing Kejriwal would want at this point of time is a revolt from his own people. But now, AAP's MLA Binny who earlier wanted to become a minister in the Kejriwal cabinet has created a flutter by revolting against Kejriwal.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator Vinod Kumar Binny on Wednesday accused the rookie party of deviating from “promises” made before the 2013 assembly polls, evoking a sharp response from Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Hinting at growing discontent in the AAP, Binny said,“There is a lot of difference between what we had promised and the way they (the promises) are being fulfilled. I will come up with more details at a press conference on Thursday.”
Earlier, Binny had publicly displayed his unhappiness after failing to get a place in the newly constituted Delhi cabinet. The AAP leader, who defeated Congress heavyweight A K Walia from the Laxmi Nagar assembly seat, had walked out of a party meeting.
AAP leader and Delhi CM Kejriwal expressed disappointment over Binny’s remarks. “There's nothing I can do about what he is saying.”
Kejriwal also said Binny had come to his house, seeking a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha polls from East Delhi. “First, he had come for ministership, we refused. After that, he wanted to contest the Lok Sabha polls. We have already decided no sitting MLA will get ticket for the Lok Sabha elections.”
In another embarrassment to the new government in the national capital, AAP leader Tina Sharma reportedly said the AAP had started working on its 2014 manifesto and was not concerned about its 2013 resolutions anymore.
FDI and Corporates
Kejriwal's unilateral decision to withdraw the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail sector, which was approved by the earlier Sheila Dixit government, without discussing it with any other political party, has angered several corporates who had shown keen interest in supporting Aam Admi Party. Reacting sharply to the decision, former Air Deccan chief Capt Gopinath who recently joined AAP said that he would consider his party membership if there was 'no internal democracy'.
All these problems could put Kejriwal government in trouble. Though AAP government looks safe for the next five months until the Lok Sabha polls take place, its credibility might come into question over and over, which could prevent the party from doing well in the Lok Sabha polls. On the other hand, national media has become too critical of AAP these days, and Kejriwal will be on the backfoot as only the media with support of the 'aam aadmi' enabled him and his party to rise to this position.
The coming weeks will be extremely critical for Kejriwal and team for sure. But a true leader is judged by how he handles times of crisis, and that will be Kejriwal's test too.