Yash pal Ralhan
Once upon a time, Arvind Kejriwal was seen as a crusader against corruption and a common man who would bring change to Indian politics. He founded the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2012 with the promise to live like a common man and fight for their rights. The party’s primary agenda was to fight corruption, bring transparency in government functioning, and create a political system that puts the common man’s interest first. Kejriwal was elected as Delhi’s Chief Minister in 2013 with a historic mandate, but in recent times, his actions have raised eyebrows, and he has been criticized for not walking the talk. The recent scandal of Kejriwal’s Rs. 45 crore home renovation has put his party in a precarious position. The leader who once promised to live like a common man has been exposed for leading an opulent lifestyle, which is far from the realities of the common man. The AAP, which was formed to fight corruption and bring transparency, has been accused of misusing taxpayers’ money to renovate the Chief Minister’s official bungalow. The scandal has caused deep urban apathy towards voting, as voters lose faith in their leaders. The Election Commission has been taking encouraging steps to increase the percentage of voting, but such activities as Kejriwal’s Rs. 45 crore home renovation are the reason why people do not want to exercise their franchise. The renovation was done during the pandemic, when people were struggling for oxygen and basic healthcare facilities. Kejriwal’s actions can be construed as “a slap on the face of its voters” and have raised questions on the AAP’s austerity talks. In 2013, all leaders of the AAP party submitted affidavits in which they pledged to live like a common man. But, the recent scandal has exposed the party’s hypocrisy. The documents accessed by various sources show that the curtains at Arvind Kejriwal’s residence cost approximately Rs. 5-8 lakh per piece. The documents also revealed that 23 curtains with a cost of Rs. 97 lakhs were cleared for Delhi CM and AAP national convenor’s residence. The marble used in the renovation of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s residence was imported from Vietnam at a cost of Rs. 3 crores. The total expenditure made on the renovation of two kitchens at Arvind Kejriwal’s official residence was approximately Rs. 63 lakhs. Six carpets were bought for Rs. 19,89,000 to be used at CM Kejriwal’s official residence, and so on.
It is ironic that a chief minister of a Union Territory is comparing the cost of renovation with the Prime Minister’s office. Such comparisons have been outrightly rejected by the common citizens of the country. In the recent past, Kejriwal had also leaked the information of discussions between him and the Prime Minister, and he had to apologize for his actions. The country has not forgotten the statements made during the surgical strike, and Pakistan media was openly quoting Kejriwal’s statement. In the present scenario, various programs related to the G20 conference are already underway, and it is expected from every responsible citizen that no such statements be made, which may tarnish the country’s image. It is high time for the AAP leadership to introspect and reflect on their actions. The party needs to take corrective measures to regain the public’s trust and restore its lost credibility. The party that promised to be a ray of hope for the common man needs to walk the talk and live up to its ideals.
(Views expressed in this article are personal.)
Yash pal Ralhan