Kejriwal: Reluctant Chief Minister

Kejriwal must have thanked his stars that his fledgling Aam Admi Party (AAP) polled only 28 of the 70 available seats in the Delhi State assembly. Just 8 more seats would have forced him to form a government and rule!

The embarrassment of electoral riches Kejriwal now faces, with his massive mandate to “rule for change”, is instructive of two trends. First, Delhi is sick and tired of “more of the same” traditional party politics. Second, it is a long leap from attractive social activism to actually providing good governance. Gandhiji would have felt similarly uncomfortable as Prime Minister in 1947.


The party with the most seats (32), BJP, has opted out of forming a “minority” government since it does not want to risk a “lame duck” unstable, government, which could jeopardize its “development and governance” stance for the 2014 national elections. Kejriwal has been offered support by the Congress which gives him the numbers to form a government, but he has refused to play ball.

What Kejriwal now plans to do in unconscionable and exactly what any other political party would do; force a re-election so that he can ride the “AAP wave” to a presumed outright win in Delhi and gain Lok Sabha seats as well in 2014. This is no different from the BJPs strategy.

How then is Kejriwal different? He says that he is not in politics for power but he is already plotting for an expansive presence in the 2014 elections. Nothing wrong in that strategy except that it hits at the very roots of parliamentary democracy if it comes at the expense of forming a government when asked to.

People do not vote to elect an opposition party. They vote to elect a party to govern. By fore- going that possibility, Kejriwal is creating  four negative outcomes:

(1) He acts against the interests of participative democracy since the outcome will be babu rule by the Lt. Governor till the next election can be held. Not a welcome outcome.

(2) He imposes unnecessary fiscal cost. Every election imposes huge direct costs on public finance and party finances (borne by business and supporters) and massive indirect cost on the economy through the extension of a period of uncertainty and babu indecision. Neither are desirable outcomes.

(3) By ducking the invitation to rule he comes across very much as Rahul Gandhi; long on concepts but woefully short on governance experience and effectiveness. This in sharp contrast to Modi and Shiela Dikshit.

(4) He also erodes the credibility of the AAP in the eyes of those who want corruption ended now! and a citizen centric shift in governance.

Kejriwal’s enthusiastic colleagues forget that the business of most ordinary citizens is not politics. Citizens enjoy and endure the electoral process because it gives them at least a marginal voice in decision making. The last thing they want to do is to make politics their primary concern. This will cost the AAP dearly in 2014 national elections, which will see both the Congress and the BJP pulling out all the stops and revamping their organisations.

Either way, Kejriwal will have earned his place in politics as the “disruptive innovator” of the decade. I suspect this result is what he truly values, unknown to his colleagues, who are merely riding the electoral wave. More power to his elbow. 

5 thoughts on “Kejriwal: Reluctant Chief Minister

  1. The stated objective of Anna and Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party’s honest political movement is the provision of honest governance for which the enactment of a strong LokPal Act is necessary. People supported them for this reason. The BJP having declined and the Congress having offered support to the Aam Aadmi party they should accept the challenge and place the law before the legislature. They should ask for a conscience vote from all elected representatives. If the law is passed it is good for us all. If it does not it will provide the Aam Aadmi party a credible reason for going to the public. Unfortunately it may be difficult for them to suppress their egos and take a sensible approach.

  2. It is certainly the duty of both the BJP and AAP to explore the possibilities of forming a government . The problem however is that the Congress whose support is required, has historically proved to be unreliable and has repeatedly withdrawn support on specious grounds. A few examples which come to mind are of the Charan Singh, Chander Shekhar and DevGowda governments.

    It is probable that if Kejriwal forms the government with Congress support , they will pull the rug from under him after the General elections. AAP may become an existential threat to the Congress as it is a non communal left of center party not tainted till date by corruption or dynasty and can destroy the congress in urban and semi urban areas. The two national parties will try their best to make it fail. Thus it may not be wise for an AAP government to be at their mercy .

  3. This post is riddled with contradictions.

    You say : “He says that he is not in politics for power but he is already plotting for an expansive presence in the 2014 elections.”
    You make it sound like the two are mutually exclusive. How so? How does the fact that he is “plotting for an expansive presence” in 2014 prove that he is in politics for power?

    And why do you use the word “plotting”? Why do you make it sound so insidious? Is NAMO also “plotting” or is he merely planning? 😉

    As for AK’s plans to spread all over India, that is because followers of AAP want him to. Every patriotic Indian is praying that AAP comes to their state. And if you’re not aware of that sentiment in the country, you are one clueless babu! 🙂

    You say : “He imposes unnecessary fiscal cost. Every election imposes huge direct costs on public finance and party finances…”

    So you’re ok with lakhs of crores of corruption but NOT OK with money being spent in another election to ensure that AAP gets a resounding majority so that they can then effectively implement their anticorruption programs? Or are you secretly hoping that they don’t implement those programs?

    You say : “By ducking the invitation to rule he comes across very much as Rahul Gandhi….in sharp contrast to Modi and Shiela Dikshit.”
    Why don’t you get something so basic…it’s your hero Narendra Modi who is ducking the invitation to rule. 😉 It’s a pity you could not see that AK is willing to delay gratification until he gets a majority so that he can fully implement his promises to the nation.

    Mr.Ahluwalia, I feel sorry not because you have lots of axes to grind with the AAP (all sketchy Indians hate the AAP). What I feel sorry for is that, after writing such a wonderful post on the prime minister and gaining a massive following, you have now betrayed yourself. 🙂

  4. Is it not erosion of parliamentary democracy when BJP refuses to form govt?…i am amazed to see learned people like you are pointing fingers at Mr Kejriwal for not forming govt comfortably forgetting the single largest party BJP. If kejriwal forms govt by taking the support of those whom they were accusing of corruption, he and his party will end up being a corrupt one too…how much does it cost for a re election? may be 500 crore..its peanuts when compared to the corrupt govt in power..if Mr Kejriwal takes support from either of the parties then his and AAP’s fall will be as spectacular as its/his win was…..Then the same people who are now criticizing him will come all guns blazing to nail him again……i wonder Why no one is asking BJP to take support form Cong and for govt …..

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