Is Kejriwal afraid to take a stand because of the sensitive nationalistic sentiments involved?

Why Arvind Kejriwals reaction to JNU has been unusually calm yet politically motivatedImage: Arvind Kejriwal FB page
Voices Opinion Friday, February 19, 2016 - 13:21

What started as a small incident in JNU has snowballed into an ugly and intense political battle between different parties.  Many believe that the BJP’s response to the JNU controversy is an attempt by the BJP to hide what they see as its non-performance on their economic promises, and thus polarize the nation based on nationalistic sentiments.

Apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, almost every major BJP leader has spoken on the issue. Rahul Gandhi has condemned BJP’s high-handedness and its attitude of wanting to crush dissent when student groups do not toe their ideologies.

In the midst of the all the political ruckus, one cannot miss a glaring anomaly on part of Arvind Kejriwal.

Kejriwal, who never misses an opportunity to attack the BJP, has been surprisingly silent on JNU. In the past one year, he has spoken on multiple issues without any delay and blamed Modi for it.

But in the JNU incident, though he has tweeted and ordered a magisterial enquiry on the incident, his unusual reticence raises some pertinent questions. Even in a recent Facebook post targeting the BJP and RSS, he has not named JNU.

A glance at his tweets clearly indicates how careful he has been with this language and choice of words. The man who blames Modi even for rapes in Delhi chose to tone it down.

On Thursday, he and his ministers met President Pranab Mukherjee and requested him to intervene on the situation in Delhi. On the contrary, on earlier occasions, he has slammed the Delhi Police severely and Modi for failing to maintain law and order in Delhi.

Does Kejriwal’s calculated reaction have a hidden agenda? Is Kejriwal afraid to take a stand because of the sensitive nationalistic sentiments involved? What’s the benefit of this caginess? Why has Kejriwal taken a middle path rather than his typical confrontational mode?

It strongly appears that his decision of taking a middle path is well thought through and here are four reasons which led him to do this:

Propel Chhatra Yuva Sangh Sansad (CYSS): The incident has intensely polarized the country. While ABVP is being seen as a saffronized student group attempting to promote “Brahmanvaad”, Leftist student groups are being seen as avowed Maoist sympathizers and anti-nationals.  Though it lost badly in the previous Delhi University student elections, Kejriwal will definitely aspire to propel CYSS’ presence across student campuses in India and for this to happen, it is important that his party is not seeing hobnobbing with so called “anti-nationals” and supporting Afzal Guru sympathisers, or the extremist nationalists.

Punjab polls: After Delhi, Punjab is the only place where the AAP hopes to secure power.  Given that the people of Punjab faced insurgency in the 1980s, his active statements in support of JNU students would have proved detrimental as it will allow other parties to accuse Kejriwal of supporting terrorists and separatists. Furthermore, he wants to maintain a clean image and not be associated with any terrorist sympathizers and radical groups. Therefore, he chose his words quite carefully in his tweet and interview on NDTV, in order to not harm his image.

National role:  As evident from his political strategies, Kejriwal definitely has an eye on playing a national role in 2019 and therefore, he doesn’t want be seen as “anti-national” or support something which may go against him. His carefulness in choosing to ignore this huge opportunity to target BJP will definitely give him an edge over Rahul Gandhi, who has been branded as anti-national and a traitor by many sections of the BJP.

JNU is in Delhi:  A recent poll done by news channels on the first year anniversary of AAP’s rule in Delhi showed that while Kejriwal still remains popular with the Delhi electorate but should elections happen today, AAP will get 48 seats, which is an indication of dipping popularity. Furthermore, civic polls in Delhi are due next year and Kejriwal doesn’t want to give fodder to the BJP to target him over any incident especially supporting terror sympathizers and those shouting anti-India slogans in his own state.

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