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Stage set for impatience vs adventurism

New Delhi, Dec. 23: Arvind Kejriwal’s government, which would rest on a unique arrangement between two parties that have nurtured extreme mutual antagonism, is doomed to be short-lived. But it would still have serious consequences on the politics of both the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party.

The Congress, which has extended support to the AAP as a strategic bait and not in the spirit of coalition, is sure to call down curses on the government and pray for its early demise from the very outset.

Kejriwal, who reluctantly accepted the challenge, will go to any extent to use this opportunity to bolster his credibility — so far his party’s core asset.

The Congress is scared precisely because of this reason. It fears that Kejriwal would use this opening to legitimise his “holier-than-thou” boast instead of falling for the loaves of power.

Sources revealed that the initial enthusiasm in the Congress on supporting the AAP withered away fast as indications surfaced about its willingness to form the government. “In the Delhi Congress, opinion got sharply divided in the last few days,” a senior leader told The Telegraph. “A few top leaders felt that supporting Kejriwal would be suicidal and the AAP leaders’ abusive language should be used as an excuse to back out. But their views were not accepted.”

Most Congress leaders believe Kejriwal would give good governance as his future politics depends on the Delhi example. But they are also convinced that he would indulge in a witch-hunt and would not hesitate to dig up cases that could put key functionaries in the previous government in trouble.

“The fact that his government survives on the Congress prop won’t matter. He knows that the Congress will be waiting for the right opportunity to strike back and so will be on the offensive himself,” a senior Congress leader said.

The Congress would ideally not want to pull down the government before the next Lok Sabha elections, which are anyway going to rewrite the national political script. This gives Kejriwal around six months, long enough for the people to judge him. If he delivers on his major promises — at least on water and electricity — by then, the Congress will gain little by pulling down the government.

But if the Congress senses even the slightest resentment among people, it will not show any mercy and opt for fresh elections.

Complexities will arise if Kejriwal chooses to focus on digging up corruption cases against political leaders, for instance former chief minister Sheila Dikshit and her relatives or aides, instead of quietly working to fulfil the promises.

Given the temperament of the new dispensation, it is difficult to presume that he would ignore wrongdoings of the previous government. Some administrative sources in Delhi said that even an attempt to audit power companies would see skeletons tumbling out.

There is an allegation that even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh looked the other way in the 2G scam at the initial stages because he did not want to antagonise the DMK and imperil his government. Kejriwal does not have any such considerations.

He would, instead, be itching to sacrifice his government on any such issue and fortify his credentials as a crusader against corruption. Sooner the better for him as he has already set his sights on the Lok Sabha elections.

The internal dynamics of the Delhi Congress, too, would come into play then. The new Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Arvinder Singh Lovely, is close to AICC general secretary Ajay Maken, and party leaders believe they would like politics to move away from Dikshit and her son Sandeep before the next Assembly elections.

Although Lovely enjoyed Dikshit’s confidence, some leaders have already begun to see signs of “distancing” and a possible realignment of forces as Kejriwal turns the screws on functionaries of the previous government.

The Dikshits are close to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and command goodwill in Delhi because of the dominant view that the previous government performed well on development parameters and welfare schemes. It will not be easy for the Congress to blink at possible vendetta politics against Dikshit and so betting on a timeline for the next elections in Delhi is truly a risky business.

But Congress impatience and the AAP’s adventurism will compete with each other to curtail the lifeline of the government that will come into being in the next few days.