Monday, April 22, 2024



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By Sushil Kutty

After Hemant Soren, will it be the turn of Arvind Kejriwal? Both of them are Chief Ministers who became targets of the Enforcement Directorate. The Jharkhand Chief Minister got arrested and had to resign. Hemant Soren says he will fight to win; fighting words, but the writing is on the wall. Problem is, the Modi government is whittling opposition Chief Ministers one after another and leaving them in Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’s wake.

Problem is also that in Soren’s instance, the cases against him smell bad and Hemant is in all sorts of trouble. Hemant Soren’s arrest and abdication is a setback to the INDI-Alliance. That Soren couldn’t run any further is a warning to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of what’s in store for him? And with general elections round the corner, time is a problem for INDI-Alliance leaders in ED’s crosshairs.

Also, with INDI-Alliance running short of leaders, one after another, the burden of carrying the hopes and aspirations of the Opposition is falling on the much-tested shoulders of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. RJD leaders Lalu Prasad Yadav and Tejashvi Yadav also have the ED after them. The INDI-Alliance is facing a leadership crunch and by the time elections are overhead, only Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge might be there to represent the “28-party” INDIA Block.

Unfortunately, Rahul Gandhi’s record of winning elections isn’t something to write home about though after the Congress victories in Karnataka and Telangana, which came on the heels of Rahul’s south-north Bharat Jodo Yatra, there was jubilation in the Congress camp that Rahul Gandhi was finally delivering to his potential. The Gandhi scion is now on the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra and it isn’t as smooth going as the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.

For various reasons, east to west is a bumpy road compared to the level progress of the south-north Bharat Jodo Yatra. The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra has had to contend with disruptive adversaries including taking friendly fire from an INDI-Alliance partner. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is difficult to please. As it turned out, Banerjee was no less hostile than the BJP’s Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The story so far for the INDI-Alliance is of losing Chief Ministers and of Chief Ministers falling to BJP traps, starting with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who is now in the BJP-led NDA and has been recruited to help procure a third term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is no different from Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping when it comes to tenures though Modi never tires of singing praise of the powers of electoral democracy.

After engineering the defection of JD-U to the NDA and “stealing” Nitish Kumar from right under the nose of the Bihar ‘Mahagathbandhan’, and scalping Hemant Soren, the Modi government is now all set to cripple the Aam Aadmi Party. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal faces imminent arrest and AAP is hard-put to find a replacement as and when Kejriwal throws in the towel. Fact is, Kejriwal cannot keep kicking the tin can ahead endlessly, he will have to surrender self-respect and reconcile to life in prison, just like Hemant Soren, who couldn’t outrun a 10th ED summon.

The defiant Kejriwal has so far skipped four summons. A fifth one and he has rejected that, too. The sad fact about ED summons is, none of Kejriwal’s INDI-Alliance partners can help the Delhi Chief Minister escape the ED summons. They can only criticize and condemn, make a hue and cry in the media. Kejriwal can help himself, though, by joining the BJP, thereby avoiding jail. If politicians dread anything, it’s jail. But for how long will Arvind Kejriwal rule Delhi from a Tihar cell? It is more than likely, ultimately, he’ll have to find his own “Champai”.

Fact is, Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra will be wading through hostile BJP held terrain for the next few weeks. Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh included. Even Maharashtra. The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra will not hit Delhi and Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann happen to be the only INDI-Alliance Chief Ministers left to welcome Rahul’s ‘Nyay’ yatra. It is almost like, the BJP/Modi regime has been whittling Opposition Chief Ministers, one by one, from the given route of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra.

The ED’s fifth summons to Arvind Kejriwal may be the last he skips. Like Hemant Soren’s experience suggested, after a point even running from the ED does not help. If the agency wants, it will even hound. Soren could only run so far, and no further. AAP’s “legal team” is mulling options. But with every passing day, there may not be many options left. Kejriwal was scheduled to address a protest rally outside the BJP headquarters in Delhi on February 2. Sounds like Kejriwal is tired of skipping summonses. He wants to claim martyrdom. The question is, where will that leave the INDI-Alliance? (IPA Service)


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