Season of appearances and political deceptions - Hindustan Times
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Season of appearances and political deceptions

Apr 07, 2024 11:48 PM IST

The gravest issue with Indian politics is that it operates in a murky realm of half-truths

Sun Tzu, a general, war strategist, and philosopher of ancient China has said: “Appearances are everything in politics, and deceptions are built on it.” Politics in India, one of the oldest democracies in the world, as it heads for elections, offers a live demonstration of the general’s words of wisdom in action.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Sanjay Singh with his wife Anita Singh, Delhi Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj and party supporters during his visit to Raj Ghat.(ANI) PREMIUM
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Sanjay Singh with his wife Anita Singh, Delhi Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj and party supporters during his visit to Raj Ghat.(ANI)

Look at the goings on in the courtrooms and politics of New Delhi. Enforcement Directorate (ED) personnel are working hard to prove the alleged liquor scam in court. They have detained Delhi chief minister (CM) Arvind Kejriwal, deputy CM Manish Sisodia, Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh, and many others in connection with the case. Of these, Singh has been granted bail. His lawyer argued before the court that the ED had imprisoned his client needlessly. He said the directorate had been examining the case for two years and was yet to find any “money trail”. He also pointed out that Dinesh Arora, a witness in the case, had not mentioned Singh in the first nine statements he gave and referred to him only in his 10th testimony. The court noted the point and requested a response from the ED’s lawyer. But instead of responding, the ED decided not to dispute the bail plea.

Singh, now out of prison, has alleged that the ED began its effort to frame Kejriwal with action against YSR Congress Party Lok Sabha Member of Parliament (MP) Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy — an accused in the alleged Delhi liquor scam case — on September 16, 2022. “He was pressured into giving a false statement against Kejriwal, but when he refused, his son Raghav was arrested. After continuous questioning, Raghav changed his statement against Kejriwal and became part of a larger conspiracy. A big conspiracy has taken place to put the Delhi CM behind bars,” Singh said.

It is clear that the Aam Aadmi Party intends to reap electoral dividends from Kejriwal’s detention. Fresh posters are already out depicting him behind bars. The Bharatiya Janata Party, not to be left behind, is saying it is inappropriate to celebrate the bail so much because the investigation is still on and the case is still pending in the courts. It is clear that the parties are trying to influence public opinion through these arguments. How can a typical voter, preoccupied with his day-to-day challenges, make a choice on such complex issues? How much longer can our democracy sustain itself relying on these limiting constraints?

This is not the first time that such incidents have occurred in Indian politics. Remember the Bofors case, which caused Rajiv Gandhi to step down from power. The four prime ministers who came to power after him had been his opponents. The first was Vishwanath Pratap Singh, who stated at a public rally in Patna that the names of the Bofors deal middlemen were in the pocket of his sherwani. Though he rose to power on this issue, he was unable to do anything. It is natural to wonder whether the claims levelled against those accused today will be proven.

The gravest issue with Indian politics is that it operates in a murky realm of half-truths.

Kejriwal himself rose to power by opposing established leaders, political parties, industrialists, journalists, and thinkers. He spoke of alternative politics, but when his party was unable to form a government on its own the first time it got majority seats, he sought the support of the same Congress that he had opposed. He is fighting this general election, too, with the Congress, which is still led by the same Nehru-Gandhi family that he once said should be put behind bars. In his initial days, Kejriwal’s colleagues and he himself accused every established leader of corruption and demanded their resignation. Today, he is in Tihar jail number two on corruption charges but refuses to resign.

Earlier this week, 56 out of 62 party MLAs gathered at his official residence and begged Kejriwal’s wife Sunita to communicate to the CM that he should not resign since they were all behind him. Following this, questions have been raised over whether Sunita will take charge if Kejriwal is forced to resign. This possibility cannot be ruled out because all the firebrand leaders of the party are under ED scrutiny. Atishi, who manages more than 10 portfolios, even stated at a news conference that she was next. She also listed Raghav Chadha and Saurabh Bhardwaj as potential ED targets.

If these apprehensions turn out to be true, Sunita might become the next CM of Delhi. She, like Rabri Devi, has no previous experience of running a political party or government. If this occurs, won’t Kejriwal and Lalu Yadav be Tweedledum and Tweedledee?

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan. The views expressed are personal

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