Focus Corner

Is BJP Planning to Target AAP MLAs? Kejriwal’s Image Under Fire in Alleged Retaliation

Amid Accusations of Scandal, BJP's Alleged Retaliation May Jeopardize Arvind Kejriwal's Political Image

At all costs, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) aims to undermine the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) and its leader Arvind Kejriwal’s reputation for fighting corruption. They argued that allegations of corruption had to be the cause of Kejriwal’s demise. However, why is this happening? A look into the AAP-BJP political dynamics.

AAP currently governs Delhi, the national capital, and the neighboring state of Punjab. This makes it the only party besides BJP and Congress to rule more than one state in India. AAP also has a presence in Gujarat and Goa states. So describing AAP as the country’s third major national political party would be fair. Other prominent regional parties like Mamata Banerjee’s, the Left, and Yadav socialist parties are limited to single states within their regions. They have yet to succeed in expanding nationwide.

Kejriwal’s Rise to Prominence as an Anti-Corruption Crusader

Kejriwal’s anti-corruption image quickly gained acceptance among common people, especially in North India. The public, tired of decades of corruption by politicians and their cronies, saw Kejriwal as a Gandhian model of an ideal public servant with his signature muffler and humble Wagon R car. They believed his words. He also inherited the legacy of anti-corruption movements he led with activists like Anna Hazare before forming AAP.

From the start, Kejriwal and his team tried to establish that everyone in power—politicians, corporates, bureaucrats—is corrupt, and they are born to fight against this. This campaign was successful during the 2011 ‘India Against Corruption’ movement and after AAP’s formation in 2012, with the BJP’s wholehearted support.

Kejriwal’s first grand target in his fight against corruption was Sheila Dikshit, the longtime chief minister of Delhi. Dikshit’s Congress government was defeated by Kejriwal’s AAP in the 2013 Delhi elections, severely harming Dikshit’s standing. In 2014, AAP’s campaign labeled Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as tainted by corruption, leading to his resignation and Congress’s national defeat.

Impact of AAP’s Growth on BJP’s Long-Term Goals

Following his ascent to prominence in Delhi, Kejriwal aimed to take AAP nationwide. AAP earned national recognition, but only Sangrur in Punjab and Bhagwant Mann in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. AAP won 92 out of 117 seats in the Punjab assembly elections 2022, securing a landslide victory and forming the government. Congress received 22.98% of the votes and 16 seats, faring much worse.

In the 2022 Gujarat assembly elections, BJP retained power by winning 156 182 seats (52.5% votes). However, they were surprised by AAP’s growth, which got 12.92% votes despite winning just 5 seats. The Congress secured 17 seats with 27.28% votes. Apart from Punjab, AAP also won 2 seats in Goa with 6.77% votes.

BJP must keep Kejriwal’s anti-corruption image from taking root in Gujarat and northern states. If this erodes Congress’s support base further, it could threaten the BJP in the next Gujarat elections due in 2027. Therefore, shattering AAP and Kejriwal’s anti-corruption image at all costs is crucial for BJP’s long-term goal of ruling India forever. They insist this must be done by portraying Kejriwal, who rose to power by calling others corrupt, as corrupt himself. An alleged Delhi liquor policy scam has provided them with a “diamond weapon” to achieve this.

It’s impossible to predict how Kejriwal and AAP will survive this crisis. If he gets bail soon, he will likely attack the BJP on campaign platforms, impacting Delhi and Punjab’s success. However, besides the liquor case, the CBI also filed another corruption case against Kejriwal related to the Delhi Water Board. Even if he gets bail now, he could be arrested again in the new case.

Congress’s Role in Supporting AAP

Notably, Manish Sisodia, Kejriwal’s deputy and closest aide, has been jailed since February 2023 in the same liquor case but hasn’t received bail yet, which shows the severity of the charges.

With top leaders jailed, the BJP will likely try destabilizing the AAP government in Delhi and Punjab by making legislators defect. If Kejriwal fails, new credible leadership must emerge within the AAP.

Congress also knows if AAP is destroyed, they’ll be BJP’s next target. This shared predicament compels Congress to rally behind Kejriwal, despite past animosities, to preserve their relevance.

Amid this turmoil, AAP minister Atishi Marlena asserted that Kejriwal is not just an individual but an idea—the symbol of the anti-corruption struggle capturing millions’ imagination across India. Eradicating this idea of defiance against deep-rooted corruption is crucial to the BJP’s survival and growth in power.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma is a seasoned Political Journalist with a deep passion for Indian Politics. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has established himself as a trusted… More »

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