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regular-article-logo Friday, 14 June 2024

'K-drama' flags ire at ED: Agency action gives Arvind Kejriwal, AAP traction in Uttar Pradesh

This newspaper was surprised to find, during its travels covering the election campaign, a fairly widespread knowledge of Kejriwal’s arrest among ordinary people at least in the towns, along with a belief that he has been wronged

Piyush Srivastava Gorakhpur, Kushinagar Published 22.05.24, 10:51 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

The middle-aged woman marched angrily into the police station and demanded: “Give me the ED’s number.”

Before the stunned policemen had found their voice, she went on: “I want to register a complaint with them against my husband and in-laws who have been harassing me for a long time.”

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The policeman at Padrauna police station, Kushinagar, who narrated the incident from last week to this correspondent said the woman got angrier when told the Enforcement Directorate didn’t concern itself with domestic problems.

“When I told her she could register her complaint here in the police station and that the ED didn’t look into such matters, she got furious,” the policeman said.

“What’s the use of the central agency if it doesn’t take an interest in my problem, which is the problem of most families in this country?” the woman told him.

“I have evidence of being harassed. Is the ED too busy with (Arvind) Kejriwal to look into my problems? I heard they have no solid evidence for whatever he was arrested for.”

Was the woman mocking the police, or perhaps the ED, or even the central government to which the agency answers but which claims not to control it? Or was she just naïve?

That remains anyone’s guess but Aam Aadmi Party leaders claim the Delhi chief minister’s arrest in March has created ripples in the public mind across the villages and towns of eastern Uttar Pradesh.

The AAP lacks a strong enough organisation in the region to challenge the ruling BJP, and is supporting the candidates of its INDIA partners, the Samajwadi Party and the Congress.

Yet this newspaper was surprised to find, during its travels covering the election campaign, a fairly widespread knowledge of Kejriwal’s arrest among ordinary people at least in the towns, along with a belief that he has been wronged.

“A large number of social media posts and videos about the ED’s action against Kejriwal have ‘popularised’ the agency,” Kushinagar-based Nurul Hoda, AAP secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh, said.

“In urban and rural areas, we find that the people know about the ED more than the CBI or the income-tax department. They think the ED can register a case in any matter. People are angry at the Modi government’s misuse of the ED but they are afraid to speak out. Let’s see whether it’s reflected in the ballot.”

A Kushinagar journalist said: “Kejriwal is seen here as the BJP’s enemy number one. Besides, the social media teams of Kejriwal and the BJP are the strongest among all the parties. Obviously, one posts something in favour of Kejriwal, and the other against him. This is how he has become well known here. But we cannot say that he is popular, all we can say is that the people are aware of him.”

Vijay Srivastava, the AAP’s Gorakhpur Mahanagar president, said: “We meet common people during our campaign, and they tell us the ED has no evidence in the so-called liquor scam but is still harassing our leaders. They are afraid of the ED.”

The trend comes at a time when people have been willingly talking to reporters about their political preferences, the eroded credibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promises, and the “misuse” of central agencies to intimidate the BJP’s political rivals.

“Modi was very popular here in 2014 and 2019. The people gave him two terms because they thought he would change their lives,” a young man in Deoria, in the neighbourhood of Kushinagar, said. “But nobody’s life has changed. He didn’t keep any of his promises. And then the issue of the electoral bonds proved that he is like any other politician, seeking power at any cost.”

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