Congress Sidesteps Kejriwal’s Ordinance Trap

Even as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has started visiting state capitals asking for support to oppose the Central Ordinance that seeks to undo the Supreme Court ruling regarding powers of the elected government to transfer and post bureaucrats, the Congress has decided that it shall not be with the Aam Aadmi Party’s objective. After some confusion initially where Congress spokespersons seemed to be on the same side as that of AAP representatives on some TV channels and where they spoke about the need to safeguard the constitution, the grand old party has evidently firmed up its resolve to not fall in what is being described as a bait, put out by Kejriwal. Although Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee amongst some others, are of the view that the Ordinance, when it comes in the shape of a Bill in the Rajya Sabha, must be collectively opposed, the Congress has a different take. The NDA is short of eight members in the Council of States and if the entire Opposition was to work unitedly, it can stall any Bill.

However, the Opposition is divided and many seasoned politicians feel that there was a definite agenda behind what Kejriwal was seeking to do. If other parties opposed to the BJP were to back him, he would emerge as the rallying point for Opposition unity and thus enhance his position nationally. The Congress has always maintained that the AAP was the ‘B’ team of the RSS, and has never taken a clear-cut stand on issues where it should have, like opposing the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and converting the State into three Union Territories, besides several other issues. The party sees a well thought through strategy of the RSS behind this alleged confrontation between the Centre and Kejriwal, which could end up relegating many top national leaders, aligned to Opposition parties playing second fiddle to the AAP supremo. There is little doubt that the AAP and the BJP also share some common targets, the Congress being one of them. Both parties have repeatedly spoken about a Congress-Mukt Bharat and that means that the differences between the Congress and these two outfits are irreconcilable. Both in Delhi and in Punjab, the AAP has occupied the political space which was once held by the Congress and if the grand old party is seen supporting Kejriwal, this space could shrink further, not only in these two regions but at other places as well. Many in the Congress believe that the only Mantra to regain lost ground in Delhi and Punjab would be to see a weakened AAP.

The BJP in Punjab is fighting for relevance and in Delhi, it has failed to capture the Delhi government since 1998. Therefore, if the Congress is able to weaken the AAP in some manner, it would pave the way for its revival in these two regions to begin with. The face-off between the Centre and the AAP is extremely unfortunate and should have been resolved mutually, in the interests of the people. However, there can be no denying that the bureaucracy cannot dictate the agenda and set the rules, when an elected government is in place. What comes in the way is the politics of it all and Kejriwal’s ambition of being a national political figure, who could be an alternative to the BJP and the Saffron Brigade. The Centre-Kejriwal confrontation is also serving as a distraction from other important matters and should be understood in its totality instead of merely the promulgation of the controversial Ordinance. This issue has not been settled and thus could figure in the political discourse of the future. The Congress is cautious since Kejriwal’s initiatives seek to impact both its role and position nationally.

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