The Telegraph
Monday , January 20 , 2014
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Congress smells Kejriwal escape plot

New Delhi, Jan. 19: The Congress leadership is worried about the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) remaining in “agitation mode”, and the suspicion about its intention to quit office before it is “found out” is deepening by the day.

Many senior leaders are feeling outraged by what they feel are the AAP’s “gimmicks” but they assert that the idea of withdrawing support has not made it to the Congress agenda yet.

The Congress leadership is engrossed in preparing a response to the political challenge posed by the BJP and many key strategists believe the AAP could be a contributing factor in their effort to prevent Narendra Modi from becoming Prime Minister.

But whatever be the larger game plan, the AAP’s policy of confrontation has caused deep anxiety within the Congress. Asked about Arvind Kejriwal’s approach to governance, Congress communications chief Ajay Maken told The Telegraph: “The chief minister should behave and act like a chief minister, not like an Opposition leader, NGO activist or agitationist. He should be seen as delivering, not cribbing.”

Asked if the Congress would reconsider its support to such a government, Maken said: “We have not supported the person, Arvind Kejriwal. We have supported a government that promised to work for the people of Delhi on the basis of 18 points. Our Delhi leader Arvinder Singh Lovely has clearly said Kejriwal should not constantly talk about withdrawal of support by the Congress as it was prepared to support the government as long as it delivered good to the people of Delhi.”

Lovely said the Congress would not allow Kejriwal to run away from responsibility and would pin him down to fulfil the promises he made to the people. A Congress office-bearer said: “Kejriwal understands that he sold unrealistic dreams and wants to escape before he is found out. But we are not interested in pulling down his government so soon. Let the people realise how capable this government is. If AAP ministers take law into their hands and demolish the systems we put in place, people will realise Kejriwal fooled them.”

At the AICC session on Friday, Lovely had said: “Our president Sonia Gandhi asked us not to make false promises. Today the whole country is talking about Delhi but truth will triumph in the end. We will never mislead people who know we have done a lot for Delhi.”

When similar sentiments were expressed by Delhi leaders yesterday when they met Rahul Gandhi, a source quoted him as having said: “I know. It is easy to find fault and run an agitation. It is not that easy to govern and fulfil promises.”

The Congress does not approve of the “mob justice” that was unleashed on some foreigners accused of drug peddling and prostitution but local leaders are reluctant to talk about it as sensitive issues are involved.

A Delhi leader said: “There is a strong sentiment among the people of these localities against certain illegal and amoral activities that are rampant. But we certainly don’t justify ministers leading mobs to conduct midnight raids on private homes. The cause is genuine. The police should have acted on their own.”

The Mahila Congress will hold a demonstration before the police headquarters tomorrow to demand the arrest of Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti but senior leaders have decided not to speak on this controversy.

One leader said: “We will rather pray for more such controversies that defame the AAP. Right now, we are going to use our energies to fight Modi, not the AAP. We don’t mind the AAP cutting away Modi’s urban votes in other parts of the country, which looks like a possibility.”

The party was quick to confront Modi’s barbs at the BJP’s conclave today. Maken said: “As soon as it became clear Rahul will lead the Congress in the 2014 election, the BJP became nervous. Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Modi… everybody started reacting. They should know that Rahul is leading us but it is not our tradition to make a Prime Minister-in-waiting.

Maken added: “PM-in-waiting is a failed model. Why should we adopt a failed model?”

He also hit out at Modi for the promise that he would create 100 more cities. “We thought Modi didn’t know history, but he doesn’t know the realities of contemporary India either. The UPA has made over 2,000 cities in the past 10 years. In the first 50 years, there were 5,116 cities in India but now there are 7,935 cities. What is the big deal if he plans to make 100 more?”