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From ‘dishonest’ to allies: Kejriwal’s foes turn friends as AAP ties up with SP for UP polls

Prabhash K Dutta

Less than three months before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal released his list of ‘most corrupt politicians’ in the country. That list includes among others Samajwadi Party (SP) founder Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Back then, Arvind Kejriwal had read out the list saying, “I have prepared a list of dishonest [politicians] of the country. If you come across any honest politician in the list, then please tell me.”

Seven years later, when the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election is barely three months away, now Delhi chief minister for six years, Arvind Kejriwal’s party is negotiating a tie-up with the Samajwadi Party for the state polls.

That the two parties are “heading towards an alliance” was confirmed by Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh of the AAP and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, who posted a photograph with Sanjay Singh and his party colleague Dilip Pandey in a Twitter post that read: “A meeting for change.”

Kejriwal had targeted Akhilesh Yadav as well when he was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh alleging that he would save “corrupt politician” Salman Khurshid of the Congress in a quid pro quo. Salman Khurshid was the Union law minister back then and a controversy had erupted over funding of NGO, Dr Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust, run by him.

Kejriwal had said, “There is enough evidence building up but the question is who will conduct an investigation [into the alleged irregularities in NGO’s funding]. Akhilesh Yadav? A case of disproportionate assets is pending against his father Mulayam Singh in the Supreme Court. Who will appoint the government lawyer against Mulayam? The law minister will doNow Khurshid will save Mulayam Singh and Mulayam’s son will save Khurshid.”

Samajwadi Party’s is not the only instance where Arvind Kejriwal had taken a different stance from what he took as an activist before and after launching his political party, AAP following a popular anti-graft campaign under the banner of India Against Corruption.

Arvind Kejriwal’s anti-graft movement was particularly directed against the Congress-led government at the Centre in 2011-12. He floated the AAP and contested the Delhi Assembly polls in 2013 with a high-pitched campaign against the Congress.

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Contesting against then Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Kejriwal secured an impressive victory. His party came second after the BJP, which refused to form a minority government. Kejriwal became the chief minister ironically with the support of the Congress, with which the AAP tried to form a pre-poll alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Delhi.

Kejriwal attended the swearing-in ceremony of Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy in 2018 in a show of Opposition strength in Bengaluru. Incidentally, Kumaraswamy was one of the leaders featuring in Kejriwal’s list of ‘most corrupt politicians’

Later in January 2019, Kejriwal shared stage with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar holding hand in hand at Mamata Banerjee’s rally in Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground. Sharad Pawar too was on Kejriwal’s list of ‘dishonest’ politicians.

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