He became the Chief Minister of Delhi at the end of December last year, after his “Party of the common man” (Aam Aadmi Party) showed unexpectedly high results in the elections to the Legislative Assembly, recalls Boris Volkhonsky, expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies.
It would seem that after coming to power in the capital of India, Arvind Kejriwal had before him marvelous prospects to prove that his campaign slogans were not just empty promises. However, instead of engaging in his task of improving the situation in the city – and this is not just a favorite issue pursued by Kejriwal – fight against corruption, as well as in a wide range of issues: from the situation of the homeless to the environmental issues, – the Chief Minister chose to remain faithful to his tactics of street protests.
In the middle of January, Kejriwal staged a protest in the center of the city, protesting against the police forces, which is not answerable to the authorities of Delhi but to the central government authorities of India. He achieved his goals – and some of the most infamous figures in the Delhi Police were relieved of their posts. But the price of this action was a two-day traffic jam in the capital entrusted to Kejriwal. And this is in addition to the fact that transport problems in the city are already very acute.
Then, he lowered the price of electricity for consumers, as promised in his election campaign. This was a purely populist measure and clearly not a calculated one. And because of this, the city authorities came into conflict with the electricity distribution companies, which, naturally, do not want to work at a loss. As a result, the Indian capital on last Monday was threatened with large-scale power shutdowns. It took the intervention of the Supreme Court of India, which on Friday banned the disruption of power supply. However, this solution is only a temporary one, and in March, the problems are bound to return, comments Boris Volkhonsky.
And on Sunday, Arvind Kejriwal threatened to resign if the Legislative Assembly did not pass a bill on the national ombudsman – Kejriwal’s pet project. It should be noted that the requirement for the introduction of the post of National Ombudsman (Commissioner for corruption) or the (Jan Lokpal Bill) was one of the main issues in the anti-corruption campaign, demanded by Kejriwal before the elections. But his party does not have an absolute majority in the Legislative Assembly; hence passing of the bill has met with some difficulties. And again, instead of conducting concrete talks with the MP’s from different parties and defending his position by constitutional methods, Kejriwal opted for his much loved technique of street protests – blackmail.
At the same time, Chief Minister of Delhi uses favorite populist methods – by appealing to the world’s media. In early February, Reuters published a grand interview with Kejriwal in which he describes of how things have changed for the better life in the capital – as if fundamental changes were possible in a month’s duration.
One has not long to wait before it is known whether Arvind Kejriwal will remain in office or soon retire. It is more likely that he will choose to remain in power. But the fact that this power has become an unbearable burden for him is becoming obvious now.