The performance of an MLA can be accessed by the amount of work done in her or his constituency. However, the parameters and spectrum of appraisal becomes wider if the MLA is none other than the former Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party national convenor Arvind Kejriwal.
In a sense Mr. Kejriwal has been lucky to represent the New Delhi Assembly constituency, which houses the Parliament, Rashtrapati Bhavan and those of MPs and diplomats, with the the civic, power and infrastructure necessities already being taken care of by the New Delhi Municipal Council.
The Assembly constituency is comparatively better than other constituencies, making the job of the segment’s MLA easier, a fact even Mr. Kejriwal concedes during relaxed moments.
Beyond building toilets in slums and putting streetlights on the roads and fixing gates with CCTV in middle-class colonies, the reaction of the public to Mr. Kejriwal as an MLA is essentially characterised by “a sense of loss” and “disappointment” as Sukhbeer, a taxi driver in Jor Bagh, puts it, over his sudden decision to leave Delhi Government and resign as its Chief Minister.
While many in his constituency attribute him to a “political charisma” and associated him with a sense of honesty absent in most of the leaders, most of the people The Hindu spoke to regard him as the “Chief Minister who messed up with immense possibilities and lost the golden opportunity”, which the AAP’s stunning performance had given him in the last Assembly elections.
Apart from the middle class which expresses its disappointment with what it terms as “Kejriwal’s theatrics”, his core support, comprising slum dwellers, government employees, auto rickshaw drivers and street vendors, also expresses its frustration for “letting them down”.
When Prem Lata, who runs a small makeshift stationery shop in the NDMC staff quarters at Khan Market, is asked what she thinks of her MLA, she does not brood much over Mr. Kejriwal the MLA but goes on to talk about Mr. Kejriwal the Chief Minister.
Lata is upset with Mr. Kejriwal not because he did not bother to visit the locality after winning the elections but because by taking the “impulsive” decision to resign as the Chief Minister after 49-days, “he ran away from the promises and dreams he made to the lower classes”.
Taking a deep sigh,she says, “I don’t know why he decided to leave suddenly. When he became the Chief Minister, we for once thought that our aspirations and dreams would be fulfilled. But sadly he ran away.”
“I thought if he became the Chief Minister, he would do something for us. My daughter would have got a job if he had continued as the CM,” she says, while pointing towards Neha, her 23-years old daughter who is a graduate from IP University. She knows two foreign languages, but currently helps out her mother in her shop.
She may vote for Mr. Kejriwal once again as Amardeep, the washerman living behind MP quarters, says “he deserves a second chance”. However, others are yet to come to terms with their “loss”.