When you hold no firm political opinions, but only go whichever way the political winds are momentarily blowing, you end up alienating people on both sides of the ideological spectrum.
After being heavily criticized for years by India’s right wing for his alleged Muslim appeasement, his doling out of freebies, and his anti-national remarks, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is now being lambasted by India’s leftists following the Delhi government’s go-ahead to prosecute Kanhaiya Kumar for sedition. Last night, after sitting on the file for nearly a year, the Delhi government had finally given the nod for prosecuting Kahhaiya for his alleged anti-national remarks at JNU.
But that hasn’t gone down well with India’s leftist cabal, which had thrown its full weight behind Kejriwal in the recently-concluded Delhi elections. Anurag Kashyap called Kejriwal “spineless”, and asked him how much he’d been bought for.
Socialite Simi Garewal said she had lost all respect for the Aam Aadmi Party. “In this one step towards prosecuting Kanhaiya Kumar I have lost all the respect I ever had for and the Aadm Aadmi party. I regret that I ever defended or supported them,” she tweeted.
Tainted Congress leader P Chidambaram, who until recently had been singing praises of the Aam Aadmi Party for its performance in the Delhi elections, said he “strongly disapproved” of the move.
The editor of leftist propaganda blog The Wire said that the prosecution was “malicious” and “vindictive.”
Other leftists also railed against Kejriwal.
Fissures have been developing between the left and its former darling in recent months. Right before the Delhi elections, Arvind Kejriwal had made overtures towards his Hindu vote base, first chanting the Hanuman Chalisa on television, and getting his kids to say in an interview that they recite the Bhagwad Gita every morning. Kejriwal had also been criticized by India’s left for not being vocal on his support on Shaheen Bagh. Kejriwal too has taken steps to dissociate himself from India’s leftists — right after the election results were announced, he unfollowed several prominent leftists on Twitter, including Swara Bhaskar, YouTuber Akash Banerjee and Radio Mirchi’s RJ Sayema.
Kejriwal’s distancing himself from the left is a clear signal he wants to appeal to India’s nationalist vote base, but he might have a hard time convincing them that he’s on their side. Kejriwal has previously questioned India’s surgical strikes, called the nation’s elected Prime Minister a coward and a psychopath, and selectively appeased India’s Muslim community, including increasing the salaries of imams. His Aam Aadmi Party faces even more grave charges — AAP MLA Amanutullah Khan has been charged with inciting violence in Delhi, and another leader Tahir Hussain has an FIR filed against him for the brutal murder of IB Officer Ankit Sharma and three others during the Delhi riots.
As such, Kejriwal might find it difficult to woo India’s nationalist voter base. With India’s nationalists having been scornful of Kejriwal for years, and his leftist followers now growing increasingly wary of his actions, it’s a dangerous political tightrope that the Delhi Chief Minister is trying to walk at the moment.