Congratulations Arvind Kejriwal, It’s the First Day of the Rest of Your Life


Congratulations Arvind Kejriwal, It’s the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Time to pop open the bubbly – err, I meant cough syrup – Mr Arvind Kejriwal.

The Supreme Court delivered its verdict on who has supremacy over administrative decisions in Delhi between the AAP government and Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal. Surely, this is the best news you’ve heard since Big Bazaar last held a discount sale on mufflers. The five-judge bench stated that the LG must respect the AAP government’s decisions, and act on the advice of its council of ministers. Right now, this must remind you of the time you finally got your real driving license after months of holding a learner’s permit. Finally, no more annoying backseat driving from the Centre, and you can steer your trusty Wagon R down any road you choose – as long as you don’t take us down memory lane.

Allow me to clarify further. The SC verdict is the perfect opportunity for you to plan your future, as the chief minister of the Capital, instead of reliving your past as an activist. Clearly, there is some part of you that longs for the good old days, when dharnas could solve your problems, as your recent sit-in protest at the LG’s office showed. But as CM, a move like that is more of a stunt than a solution. Which is why I think some of your best work has been done when you are focused on governance, not protests.

However, don’t take my word for it. Even former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has expressed appreciation for the AAP government’s mohalla clinic scheme. With 180 neighbourhood clinics, Delhiites have better access to healthcare than before. The scheme has been successful and impressive – Annan’s words, not mine. In the department of education, the AAP government received praise for improving the quality of state-run schools by consulting with expert advisors like Atishi Marlena. In an unheard-of move, two government schools were even outfitted with swanky pools. Citizens of Delhi enjoy a 50 per cent subsidy on their electric bill, and the free water scheme implemented by your government continues.

If you can show that “Paanch Saal Kejriwal” has been good for Delhi, it will establish the AAP model as a viable one.

That your government managed to accomplish these feats even while you and the LG enjoyed an even frostier relationship than Sushma Swaraj and Sonam Mahajan, is proof that your brand of governance can yield results. That they can make the lives of citizens better. Now that the Supreme Court has ordered the two of you to shake hands and make up, a whole new world of possibilities have opened up for you.

Make the most of your newfound freedom, Mr Kejriwal, and get to work. That means more governance, and less ridiculous, publicity-seeking stunts. Don’t rake up uncomfortable memories of the time you went on a dharna against your own government, the first time Dilliwalas gave you a mandate.

You know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not just the camp-out you held at the LG’s office which was not befitting your position as Delhi CM. Before the Supreme Court had delivered its verdict, you offered to support the BJP in the 2019 elections if the Centre granted your demands for full statehood. That’s like promising to buy a mugger a meal if they give you back your wallet. The SC has defended your government’s ability to function smoothly, so maybe… try to function smoothly?

Now that you hold the reins, prove that you can do better than your predecessor, Sheila Dixit. If you can show that “Paanch Saal Kejriwal” has been good for Delhi, it will establish the AAP model as a viable one. If you want your party to become a serious national force, Delhi must serve as its incubation chamber. The old maxim, “If you build it, they will come,” holds true even here. For if you build up AAP as a viable alternative to Congress and BJP on a national stage, you will find voters opting for your brand of politics, just like they did in Delhi.

Dilliwalas have trusted you – that’s a lot coming from a people who can barely trust their own families. I know it’s been an arduous journey to this point. You’ve been ridiculed in the press, attacked with ink and slaps, and even suffered from self-inflicted hunger pangs. It hasn’t been easy for even a moment, but the hardest roads make for the best stories. Your story has come to a momentous fork in the road. The next chapter is yours to write.