From being the darling of middle and underclass to being their favorite whipping boy, Arvind Kejriwal, former Delhi state chief minister and head of Aam Aadmi Party, a political outfit born out of an anti-corruption crusade, has seen it all in a short span.
Kejriwal, a former Income Tax Commissioner, who is pitted against Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate of main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Varanasi, a city considered holy in Uttar Pradesh State, was slapped by an auto rickshaw driver Laali in North West Delhi during a road show on Tuesday.
This was the fourth attack on Kejriwal in less than a fortnight and second in Delhi within a week. On April 4, he faced aggression from Abdul Wahid, a resident of Batla House area in South Delhi which has been seething with anger since September 2008 when two terrorists and a Delhi Police Inspector were killed in a shoot out there. A week before that, he was punched on the back by Satvinder Singh, a law graduate in Bhiwani, a city in Haryana State, allegedly for betraying his mentor and anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare.
Three days before that, ink was sprinkled on Kejriwal and eggs thrown at his cavalcade in Varanasi. In the last week of November last year too, he faced an ink attack in Delhi by a youth called Nachiketa who claimed to be a BJP General Secretary in Ahmed Nagar of Maharashtra State. Besides, his car was attacked in Gujarat State during a ‘study’ tour recently.
Laali, who has been detained by Delhi Police, has reportedly attributed his aggression against Kejriwal to unfulfilled promises made by the AAP to the auto rickshaw drivers. Delhi auto rickshaws were the first major vehicle of promotion for the common man’s party.
Kejriwal headed to Rajghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi along with his colleague a journalist-turned-politician Manish Sisodia immediately after the attack ostensibly to pray for peace. The duo sat on a dharna there for a while. Later addressing a presser, the former Delhi CM sniffed a conspiracy behind the attacks against him.
When asked whether the attacks were a result of people’s disenchantment with his party, Kejriwal countered that his party did not rule over Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat States. He wondered whether the attacks were masterminded by his detractors and would get fiercer in the coming days. He alleged that the attackers were victims of the same system which his party was fighting to change.
Kejriwal’s close confidant, Ashutosh who is contesting against Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal from a parliamentary constituency in Delhi, has blamed the attack on Kejriwal to the BJP, a charge the latter has hotly contested. Both the BJP and the Congress have indicated that the attack might have orchestrated by the AAP to remain in the media limelight.