Who said three days ago, "They may kill us!"?
Not Indian jawans keeping vigil at LoC, thinking of Pak military and worried about their families back home. It was Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal of AAP in a You Tube video, saying he and other leaders of his party could be killed on the orders of prime minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. The charge really looms over Modi whose image and nationwide appeal, not Shah's, brought BJP to power at the Centre and dashed Kejriwal's dreams of becoming prime minister through the 2014 national elections.
Kejriwal further said Modi might get it done because of ‘frustration’ with Kejriwal, stemming from – as Kejriwal believed these reasons existed - AAP’s victory over BJP in the 2015 Delhi assembly elections, AAP’s present good work in Delhi and its growth in a few other states. The charge and its explanation are outright funny and downright silly. A newspaper which generally applauds Modi front-paged the news saying the Delhi chief minister was 'ranting', while another one which is generally critical of Modi shunted the news to its inside pages saying Kejriwal 'claimed' to feel threatened. This is a sample of both supporters and opponents of Modi not taking Kejriwal's declared apprehension seriously. That is healthy in the watching of public affairs. What, then, is the need for anyone to talk about this further?
Kejriwal is a chief minister functioning from the national capital which houses the prime minister's office too. He wants Delhi to be made a full-fledged state with greater powers of administration. And he wants to become prime minister soonest – so he expressed doubts in his video speech if the country was safe in Modi's hands. When that man says publicly that the country's prime minister might get him killed out of sheer political rivalry, it needs to be discussed. Modi may just ignore Kejriwal over this issue, in a politically wise stance. But in the public domain Kejriwal must hear others.
Assume that Kejriwal really feels his life could be shortened through Modi's directives. Then it means a feeling that Modi would want it enacted before his current tenure as prime minister ends, which is about 3 years from now. Reason: if Kejriwal lives long enough to face the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019 Modi will fear losing out to Kejriwal in those elections and hence he would prefer Kejriwal to be out of the scene by then – so would Kejriwal want us to believe. Kejriwal, who thinks his popularity is swelling, should also imagine that Modi's frustration with Kejriwal would rise day by day, and that Modi would want his wishes fulfilled at the earliest. All these naturally flow from Kejriwal's direct allegations. Let us go further.
Lives of elected political leaders all over the world are rather unsafe, whatever their political beliefs. If they are left unprotected any madman could fire a shot at them or throw a knife or a bomb at them. The attacker may not always act on the orders of a political rival and could himself be insane. He could also be a disgruntled member of the same political group or party as the targeted leader. So the state machinery should monitor threats to the lives of all political leaders and give them protection when needed, without talking much about it. Sometimes the best of protection by the state may not also be good enough, when it would be a sad day for the whole country whoever the victim. Leaving all this aside, as a mortal any leader could breathe his last owing to an organ failure or other ailment. Kejriwal wants us to believe that if he or any of his party leaders leave this world for any reason, in the next three years or later, Modi should automatically become the prime suspect of a plot behind it. This is a vicious hope.
The world knows about a country where a similar charge by a chief minister of a region against a person holding a higher rank and wielding a huge authority could be quite credible. But the man under such a death threat will know that if he speaks about it publicly the threat could be more surely carried into effect. That is Pakistan. Kejriwal knows he lives in a far safer and better governed India, where the judiciary functions independently, the rulers are not oppressive and the military is not all-powerful.
Kejriwal has touched a new low from a high position. If a municipality chairman in India makes a charge like Kejriwal has done, it is level one low. When a chief minister in the country does it, he reaches level two low. If, God forbid, any prime minister of the nation will ever do it, it is the ultimate low. The higher the position a person occupies, a notch higher is the dignity he should assume and the responsibility he should show in words and action. The reason is this. A person among the last ranks of an administration and doing misdeeds at the workplace does not easily infect all others in the set-up, unless many others do it by themselves and there is no action to check any of them. But if the one person who is at the top does things wrongly, irresponsibly or corruptly, though deviously, others down the line will follow him and his clever ways. So Kejriwal has sent a wrong signal to political leaders, established or upcoming, that the way to keep one’s place in politics and engage with political opponents is through wickedly dramatized falsehood. What he said may be legally a non-event, but is morally poisonous in public life. We should hope that the public spot it.
True, Kejriwal led his AAP to win 67 out of 70 seats in the last Delhi assembly elections. He fought against the campaign of Modi, a serving prime minister, and won to become Delhi’s chief minister. He deserves a lot of credit for his victory. No doubt Modi should look at his defeat with humility, and defeat also naturally helps in that. Kejriwal too should take his electoral success with humility, even more of it for the victor, but so far he has given no proof of it.
The Delhi chief minister has quickly given proof on one thing - that his dubious motives have begun inspiring others, at least within his party. A day after Kejriwal released his video speech charging Modi, Asim Ahmed Khan who is a sitting AAP lawmaker of Delhi – who was a former minister in Kejriwal’s cabinet but dropped later on charges of corruption – told newsmen that Kejriwal and his aides had threatened to kill Khan because, as Khan claimed, the lawmaker had materials to ‘expose’ Kejriwal. No prizes to anyone for guessing that Khan learnt a new trick from Kejriwal, just wished to blacken the name of his estranged leader and so alleged that Kejriwal gave out a death threat. Of all persons, Kejriwal knows that his troubled party man is on a calculated foul play, posing as a victim. Because Kejriwal knows himself.
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Copyright © R. Veera Raghavan 2016