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Another Down

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Arvind Kejriwal played it wrong, especially if he is innocent. In fact, his entire approach to the allegations made against him, particularly the evasion of nine ED summons, signals quite the opposite – involvement in shady deals. It is an irony that the man who rocketed to political heights on the anti-corruption platform is behind bars on kickback charges. It would seem he got too much success too soon and was unable to cope. There are reasons why his early associates in the anti-corruption movement left him or were side-lined – his actions did not match up with his words.

It is also not as if the Modi Government has suddenly launched a blitzkrieg against political opponents in the run up to the General Elections. The chasing down of corrupt politicians and others has been going on for several years, irrespective of the political situation on the ground. Those charged with financial crimes cannot take shelter on the plea that, being elected representatives, the law has to be applied differently to them. The truth is that, after accruing ill-gotten gains, crooks have traditionally joined politics for just this sort of immunity.

It is also the opposition’s allegation that those accused of corruption who join the BJP are put through a ‘washing-machine’ that cleans them of their sins. If not entirely absolved, it can be said that the cases may be going on the back-burner. The opposition should maintain a list of such persons and launch the various agencies against them when it comes to power. This way, politics will be considerably cleansed in a few years.

Will Kejriwal’s arrest, for as long as it lasts, generate a ‘sympathy wave’ in Delhi, Punjab and elsewhere? AAP will certainly work on that with vigour. Following its seat tie-up in Delhi, it will expect the Congress to also project Kejriwal as a victim of Modi’s high-handedness. In the longer run, it will be a high price for Congress to pay for three illusive seats because, after all the criticism in the past of Kejriwal, it will be vacating what is left of the ‘secular’ space in Delhi. Local activists will be miffed and it should come as no surprise that Congress voters opt for BJP candidates in AAP constituencies.

How much credence the general public gives to the charges and counter-charges will become known after the General Election results are out, but it must be said that such drama would be prevented if India’s judiciary could deliver with 21st Century efficiency.