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CM's RESIDENCE

CM’s RESIDENCE By Prem Chandran Needless to say, our expectations are high on Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party; .....




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01-05-2014
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CM’s RESIDENCE

By Prem Chandran

Needless to say, our expectations are high on Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party; though not as high as to fancy that it would put up the same kind of a show it presented in Delhi at the upcoming General Elections across the country. Unlikely. It should, perhaps, do well in Haryana, or in some urban areas which are abundantly exposed to the greed of the political class as also to the media publicity that Kejriwal and his party have hogged in recent times. It won Delhi after two years’ labour. There is little time left for the party to reach out to or build bridges with the people across the country. The time has come when a sense of realism should be the Kejriwal juggernaut’s watchword.

Our expectations are high indeed; anchored as they are on the sense of sincerity of the individual who heads this experiment, and on the hope that he has sought to turn the vulgar political system on its head, sweep its ramparts clean with, what else other the common man’s broom? What is left of the political misadventures of the Sheila Dikshit kind requires not just brooms but shovels for a clean-up. Yet, the symbolism is not lost sight of.

Our expectations are high, but these expectations should also not go down to a level when we, the people, in our overzealousness, seek to turn a joke out of the present experiment. A case in point is the hue and cry made from the Aam Aadmi Party ranks over the allotment for Kejriwal of a five-bedroom duplex apartment (and, not a bungalow), quickly prompting the CM to reject the offer. He has a family of two children – a boy and a girl – and his aged parents are living with him. He already lives in a four-bedroom apartment, from where he should now shift to the CM’s residence. How many bedrooms would a normal, say middle-class, family require under such a situation – not in New York or Mumbai, but in capital Delhi where people are generally used to stretching out? Where is the luxury in what is offered to him?

The CM was inclined to take up this modest accommodation with a rider that he would use one part of it as his office. And, respecting his party cadre’s sentiments, he quickly backtracked, and asked for a more modest apartment. Well, perceptions are important too, especially at a time when an image-build-up process is on for a brand new party. Which might be what weighed heavily on his mind.

However, what the Chief Minister is urged at this point, in all sincerity, is to avoid mixing his family life with official matters. A question is, why would he require a functional office attached to his home? Understandable that, outside of the official routine at the CM’s office, he will have to meet with partymen and the general public on a daily basis. He has the AAP office wide open, which is rather the right place for him to do this.

Jyoti Basu was not exactly accessible to his partymen or the general public. He maintained an imperious style all through the years when he was chief minister, appropriated a portion of Raj Bhavan as his residence (thinking that nothing else would match his whims of an official residence), and left his own home in Ballygunj, not far from Writers Building, practically locked. But, he had made it a point to ride upto the CPM office after work every day, sirens blaring and cops in tow blocking the route for traffic, sit there for a while and hold discussions with (rather, issue directions to) party leaders. That also was his way of connecting with the people, although indirectly. AK Antony, whose simplicity is common knowledge, refused to move out of his modest house when he became chief minister, but, all the same, never allowed ‘durbars’ at his residence, where privacy was strictly maintained. He had his own ways of connecting with the people. That, under the Sonia dispensation, his lilly-white image too took a beating is another matter.

Yet, looks like, it is a Congress culture to mix family with party and governmental affairs. That started with Nehru. No wonder then that, with rare exceptions, they promote a culture of looting public money and filling their pockets. Aam Aadmi Party advocates a culture exactly opposite to the Congress culture. It is here that the new Delhi CM, even when he gets his oxygen from the Congress, can make a difference: discard the idea of having a functional office attached to his official residence, and keep 'family' out of official business.

A note of caution too. The Kejriwal edifice would do well to progressively reduce its dependence on the media to connect with the people. The media derives a kick out of exploring what's new. News, after all, is what's new. That partly explains its fascination for him and the AAP. It will have no longevity. More importantly, the Indian media has a class character; much of it being run by men who made money through foul means or by political patronage. (A rare exception is The Hindu). It cannot be expected to sing paeans for the Aam Aadmi Party for long, even if the party makes it a point to move on the right track. The way forward for the party would be, as it is already doing, no doubt, to increase its dependence on its cadre strength, just as the Communists used to do; and not allow the media to hijack its agenda, in cases like, lately, making a fuss over a "five-bedroom" apartment or the "duplex" nature of it. premcee@gmail.com; indiahereandnow.com

Last edited by Premchandran; 01-05-2014 at 11:31 PM
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02-01-2014
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By all his acts he seems to be a very Discontented Man
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