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Messing with Saxena leaves Kejriwal in a mess

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By Sidharth Mishra

In VK Saxena, the new Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal has bumped into the most serious challenge of his remarkable political journey till now. The master manipulator of public discourse, Kejriwal’s politics revolves around projecting himself as the righteous underdog. This well-crafted image honed through deft media management and spending 1000s of crores of rupees in advertising, has taken a severe hit ever since Saxena took over as LG, five months back.

Saxena, a self-proclaimed activist like Kejriwal himself, has given the latter a run for his money on his own pitch. Saxena’s activism, sans rhetoric has started resulting in concrete and visible work on the ground for all to see. That he also chooses to be on the streets and communicates with the people and the Media proactively has put the ever aggressive Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on the back foot, with little to attack Saxena with. This result oriented and time bound approach of Saxena to get things done is in stark contrast to the “all sound no fury” style of the Delhi CM.

What makes it difficult for Kejriwal is the façade which he created on ‘delivery’ has started to crack with dents made by Saxena’s approach. For the first time there seems to be an air of disbelief vis-a-vis the claims made by Kejriwal and team through advertising blitzkriegs bleeding the exchequer.

Be it claims of world class school infrastructure in Delhi, Mohalla clinics, Yamuna pollution, polluted drains, air pollution or ‘European Roads’, Saxena seems to have systematically and surely exposed hollowness of all these campaigns. People have suddenly begun to see the truth and all the glitter created through 24X7 advertising, blame game and rhetoric is doing little to deflect people’s attention.

 

While Saxena is out in the field on a daily basis and seen getting a water body cleaned, drain dredged, garbage removed, roads repaired or initiating action against the corrupt, all that AAP and Kejriwal are seen doing is finding alibis to their inaction, blaming others and abusing the opposition. The absence of governance at the grassroots is now becoming visible.  

The usual Kejriwal style of propaganda, creating a campaign out of false and baseless allegations against the opposition – an art mastered since the ‘India Against Corruption Days’, when they targeted the then UPA government at the Centre and Sheila Dikshit in Delhi with fantastic allegations that had no basis, also seems to have come cropper with Saxena immediately responding to allegations and quashing them. 

When AAP came up with a campaign declaring on loudspeakers in colonies of Delhi, that the MCD was planning to create 16 more landfill sites in the Capital, Saxena not only denied it categorically through a tweet, but also asked MCD to do a Press Conference bringing the facts to the fore and lodge FIRs against those spreading false information and misleading people. The move ensured that the AAP campaign was dropped immediately. In frustration they now say that Lieutenant Governor should contest MCD elections.

This was a vintage Saxena operating. As Chairman of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), he got over 1600 FIRs/cases filed against individuals and companies, including Amazon, FabIndia, Flipkart and Sundry on-line portals for violating the ‘Khadi Mark’ regulations and using the Khadi Brand unauthorizedly for sale of fake Khadi. The impact was immediate. Hundreds of on-line portals, including Amazon and Flipkart took down the products being sold in the name of Khadi and apologized officially. When FabIndia, despite apologizing, continued deceptively selling fake products as Khadi, KVIC moved Court with a claim of Rs. 525 crores as compensation. It were such steps that ensured Khadi’s emergence as the retail behemoth, that it has become today. 

What has made things all the more complicated for Kejriwal is the fact that his Teflon coating that deflected all criticism seem to have been acquired by Saxena now. In attacking him, by resorting to their characteristic shoot and scoot style, Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP, seem to have made a counterproductive blunder – as it became clear in the charges of corruption made by AAP and its leaders against Saxena, while he was Chairman of KVIC. The Court order that followed, directing the AAP and its leaders to take down their defamatory posts and statements and certifying that the accusations made by them on Saxena were unsubstantiated and reckless amounting to mud-slinging only strengthened the charge of ‘abuse and abscond’, that the AAP is often charged with. 

AAP and its leaders had not expected that, Saxena, after serving a legal notice will not only move a plaint of defamation but also substantiate the plaint with ample facts and documentary evidence to unequivocally establish his credentials.

In having taken on him, Arvind Kejriwal and AAP forgot that they were messing with an individual who actually practices what they had been only preaching for years. Kejriwal would have done good to do some research into how Saxena at one point of time successfully called out the hoax of his cohort Medha Patekar and ran down the entire campaign that she had manufactured against the Narmada Dam Project.  It would have helped Kejriwal and the AAP strategize better. 

 

Kejriwal, who started with attacking the Prime Minister in an attempt to portray himself as the national alternative, has climbed climb down, to always being on a defensive against missives and directions issued by Saxena.

(The writer is an author and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice) 

 

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