DDCA is incidental. This is Modi vs Kejriwal, a fight to the finish
(Ashutosh is an official spokesperson for the Aam Aadmi Party. He explains how the brouhaha surrounding the DDCA is part of a much greater political game between the BJP and PM Narendra Modi on the one hand, and the AAP and Arvind Kejriwal on the other)
The DDCA scam will shape the future political landscape of the country. At the outset, it might look like a simple case of money-siphoning in the name of cricket, and the fight to get it investigated and punish those who are guilty.
But that's just oversimplifying and generalising it. The DDCA scam not only symbolises what is rotten in the Indian political system and exposes the ugly face of the people in powerful positions, but also showcases the fact that the fight against corruption is too vicious; it requires a thorough cleansing.
Unless the most powerful are exposed and punished, the system will continue to haunt those who wish for an honest and clean India.
The battles within the war
At one end of the spectrum is Narendra Modi, and at the other end is Arvind Kejriwal. One is the Prime Minister of India and the most ambitious politician the country has seen in the last few decades; the other is the underdog, the quintessential challenger. Arun Jaitley is incidental.
Modi and Kejriwal have every reason to hate each other. In their first battle, the challenger was the loser. This was in the parliamentary elections of 2014, when Kejriwal decided to contest against Modi from Varanasi. Modi was the darling of the masses, riding a crest of public adulation, while Kejriwal was perceived as somebody who tried to cross his path and was therefore vanquished.
Their second battle was the Delhi assembly election. The Aam Aadmi Party was a demoralised force, and everybody thought Modi was unstoppable. But the impossible did happen - Modi tasted the most humiliating defeat of his life. Kejriwal was instrumental in bursting the bubble called 'Modimania'.
Emperors don't take defeats easily. The wounded emperor struck back very soon.
Just when AAP thought it had a massive majority and things would be smooth, and that they could rest in peace for some time, attacks started mounting.
In the last eleven months, every attempt has been made to cripple a duly-elected government. At one point of time, a serious attempt was made to sack the government, but fate willed otherwise, due to the intervention of the courts.
The need to restrict AAP
The defeat in Delhi has convinced Modi that if the idea of AAP is allowed to travel outside Delhi, it would prove to be the most potent idea since independence, and would seal the fate of Modi in particular and the BJP in general. He is, therefore, making every effort to nip this phenomenon in the bud.
Modi would have been happier if AAP and Kejriwal had been a regional force, and did not harbour any national plans.
But AAP has a national appeal, unlike any other political player. AAP is a new idea; it is seen as a national alternative to the BJP and the Congress. It presents a national solution to whatever is rotten in the Indian political system.
As an anti-corruption movement and, later, a political party, it has challenged the entire political edifice, sparing none. Its attraction lies in its promise to cleanse the deeply-entrenched establishment and replace it with an honest, clean and affordable polity.
It is a fight to make the system accountable to the aam aadmi, the real stakeholder in the Indian democracy. Modi, during the general elections, pretended to fill this space, but his tenure till now has proven to be a hoax. That's where his desperation lies, as does that of his friend Mr Jaitley.
The smokescreen raid
The raid on the office of the Delhi CM was the most audacious attack on Kejriwal. It was an attempt to discredit him and the idea of AAP. It was an attempt to prove that Kejriwal and his team was also like them - corrupt, sheltering the corrupt, and a beneficiary of the corrupt system. But truth has its own logic.
The inability to prove anything substantial proved to be counterproductive. The counterattack was more lethal. Now, Modi's most trusted cabinet colleague is in the dock, and has no answers for his wrongdoings.
It is the power of AAP's credibility that people are convinced that Jaitley is not innocent; that he presided over the edifice of corruption called DDCA, and his defamation suit is just a smokescreen. The raid on principal secretary Rajender Kumar was just an excuse.
Will the emperor sacrifice his wazir?
This fight will not end here. Both the leaders have gladiatorial instincts, and this is a fight to the finish. The DDCA issue has merely drawn the battle lines.
The emperor has to save his wazir. But emperors don't risk their empires; sometimes the wazir is an easy option for sacrifice. That does not mean that the emperor will concede defeat.
Elections in Punjab are not too far. The idea of AAP is already creating waves there. A victory in Punjab will be the gateway to India for AAP, and that will be the danger signal for Modi. Therefore, he has to strike much before that.
But the DDCA matter has also signalled that not all his colleagues are on board. After the Bihar defeat, the emperor has been weakened. He might have to fight with his own people.
This internal battle would be more interesting to watch, along with the battle with his arch-rival Kejriwal. But either way, the DDCA issue will define the future.
The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the organisation.