Date :02-Apr-2024

THE public meeting organised by I.N.D.I. Alliance at New Delhi’s Ramlila Grounds to express solidarity with arrested Delhi Chief Minister Mr. Arvind Kejriwal appeared to draw battle-lines for the Lok Sabha elections starting later this month. Some political observers tended to infer that Mr. Arvind Kejriwal may get treated as the I.N.D.I.A. group’s prime-ministerial face. Whether such an inference will have the credence of reality or not only time will tell, but it is obvious that the Opposition camp seems have acquired a rallying point all right ahead of the crucial elections. Of course, there will always remain unexplained contrasts and paradoxes in the I.N.D.I.A. grouping on account of leadership and prime-ministerial candidate. Those may eventually prove to be the serious and dangerous faultlines that may suck the grouping into a deep abyss in just the next couple of weeks. For, if Mr. Arvind Kejriwal becomes the coveted prime-ministerial face, then there will be at least half a dozen aspirants to the post feeling dejected and rejected. True, at the Ramlila Grounds all the I.N.D.I.A. grouping leaders appeared to have converged on a common point of expressing solidarity with Mr. Kejriwal. Yet, that cannot be interpreted as a well-considered decision signatured by all without exception -- for obvious reasons.
For, the I.N.D.I.A. grouping suffers from one major black-hole of sense of self worth of several factional leaders, Mr. Rahul Gandhi of the Congress being the most prominent name. As can be surmised, in time, all these ego-centric satraps may rise like cobras and sting the cause of Opposition unity. Many of them may even collude with the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi clandestinely and bomb the I.N.D.I.A. agenda at the hustings. At least this moment, there is no wisdom in denying the truth of such a possible writing on the wall -- though so far invisible to the naked eye. In a few more days, the grouping’s faultlines are quite likely to get accentuated and damage the so-called common cause. For record, however, the Ramlila Grounds meeting showed at least a cosmetic solidarity -- with Mr. Arvind Kejriwal and Opposition unity. Mr. Kejriwal’s posters showing him behind the prison bars, thus, appeared to pass the message that he may be the rallying point for the I.N.D.I.A. grouping’s electoral politics. Political observers will agree that this is too late a surfacing of such an important issue of leadership. Yet, there is no denying the possibility that the ruling NDA may have to contend with this so-called new rallying point.
It must be stated candidly at this point that Mr. Arvind Kejriwal is no longer the person who would command national respect -- which he did a decade earlier when he stood on the dais at the same venue and gave a clarion call to fight against graft. In fact, Mr. Kejriwal offers a classic -- and sad -- example of how a leader of such massive public acceptance slides down the scale of honour in such a short time, so much so that he has to end up behind the bars for dishonouring legal summons for nine times. The common public is not expected to forget this slide to dishonour. There is no need to engage reams of paper to describe how poorly positioned I.N.D.I.A. grouping is in the forthcoming electoral battle. Suffice it is to say at this point that I.N.D.I.A. will have first to contend with its internal contrasts and then confront the electorate. In the current conditions, such a course-correction is least likely to happen. The Ramlila Grounds meeting may have drawn the battle-lines all right, but the road ahead is full of gaping holes avoiding which the grouping is going to waste much of its collective energy -- most possibly to little avail.