History is evidence that Arvind Kejriwal is not a very good team player. Not just outside but not within his party either.
So insecure is the AAP leader that he may be mortally scared of his own shadow growing taller than him, making him look puny in comparison.
In Punjab, Kejriwal’s defining trait — insecurity typical of a man who has achieved more than he deserves — is once again on display, being played out in public in all its ugliness, leading to backroom intrigues, betrayals and fights that could put crabs to shame.
Kejriwal’s latest victim, in a series of casualties, is former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, who finds himself adrift after being jettisoned by the AAP and encouraged to jump the BJP ship without a life jacket.
Kejriwal was reportedly unwilling to let Sidhu become the face of the party in Punjab and thus overshadow him. Scared of Sidhu’s popularity, Kejriwal reneged on the promises he had made to the cricketer, turning the cricketer into the proverbial washerman’s canine.In July, when Sidhu resigned from the Rajya Sabha, it was assumed he would become the AAP’s CM candidate or star campaigner. After dropping hints that Sidhu will soon join the AAP, earlier this month Kejriwal publicly shut the door on Sidhu, tweeting that the former cricketer needs more time to make up his mind.
It is strange that Sidhu took a rash decision.
Several years ago, Sidhu retired midway through India’s tour of England, walking out of the team one fine morning and taking a flight back home from Heathrow. He paid a heavy price for his indiscretion and gradually disappeared from the cricket stage. Unfortunately, Sidhu did not learn from the mistake.
Left with no option, Sidhu is now reportedly negotiating a deal with the Congress.
According to The New Indian Express, he may soon meet Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and talk about his induction into the party. As part of the deal, Sidhu may get to contest for Parliament on the Congress ticket from Amritsar. His wife may also be promised an important post, in case the Congress wins the Assembly elections in Punjab.
Sidhu’s fate is another reminder of the fact that the AAP exists only to serve Kejriwal and his clique. It is a one-man act, produced and directed by Kejriwal with his toadies providing the adulatory chorus. Such is the psychology of the party “with a difference” that it doesn’t want anybody to become Kejriwal’s equal.
The problem with outfits run by insecure dictators is that they are as bad as their leader: Edgy, nervous and freaked out by constant fears of becoming irrelevant or getting eclipsed. Since its inception, the AAP has always been at war with its own members, leading to recriminations, fights and expulsions. Almost every other leader who acquires some sort of stature ultimately gets thrown out, either through a sting, taped conversation or the farcical expedient of an internal probe.
It is almost a given that anybody whom Kejriwal embraces ultimately gets stabbed, unless of course he is part of his core group of sycophants defined by their lack of public stature and, thus, condemned to be at the leader’s mercy and destined to be his drumbeaters.
Punjab shows why AAP is almost like a snake pit. Two of its four members of Parliament have been suspended from the party for dissent. Its convenor Sucha Singh Chhotepur has been sacked after being caught in a sting — the favourite weapon of war within AAP. The only politician, ironically, who has been able to thrive and survive is a stand up comic suspected of alcohol addiction, MP Bhagwant Mann.
Chhotepur’s case, in fact, is weird. In Indian politics, stings are generally conducted by rival parties for electoral gains. Chhotepur, ironically, has been trapped allegedly by his own party. This has lead to a farcical situation where his own party is condemning him while rivals like Captain Amarinder Singh are vouching for Chhotepur’s integrity.
The backstory of Chhotepur’s ouster is an encore of the drama that preceded the eviction of AAP’s founding members Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav. Like Yadav and Bhushan, the Punjab convener is also believed to have had dissented with Kejriwal on several issues, including distribution of tickets. Like them, he has also been allegedly taught a lesson.
In a short span of three years, the AAP has several splits, dozens of public fights and has run up a long list of leaders sacrificed at the altar of Kejriwal’s ego, ambition and insecurity.
Every few months, the AAP comes up with fresh evidence that it has turned into a deranged entity that needs to gobble up its own tail for fear of becoming too long.
It is an ailment that reflects Kejriwal’s fear of shadows, including his own.