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Seizing an opportunity

SEIZING AN OPPORTUNITY By Prem Chandran As is well-known, Arvind Kejriwal was one among the inspiring figures that brought the .....




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12-29-2013
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SEIZING AN OPPORTUNITY

By Prem Chandran

As is well-known, Arvind Kejriwal was one among the inspiring figures that brought the issue of corruption to the forefront in 2011, when the movement initiated by a set of well-meaning people in a casual way captured the fancy and imagination of the nation. People instantly lapped up the movement for the main reason that it was an idea whose time had come and that the man at the centre of it, Anna Hazare, was an activist with a Gandhian mould and impeccable credentials when it came to fighting social evils.

Kejriwal’s field and his fame were, till then, limited to certain pockets in Delhi – or the neglected side of Delhi. Today, he is the Chief Minister, presiding over an administration that was, till now, allegedly "one of the most corrupt under the deceptive leadership" of Sheila Dikshit. Not many in this country thought till the Anna show in Delhi that there was a way to challenge or keep a check on this evil: an evil that has grown to gigantic proportions under the leadership of a housewife-turned political boss Sonia Gandhi, who, backed by an inner coterie, progressively wielded power to a level when the prime minister of the country had no way but to dance to her tunes. In a way, thus, Arvind Kejriwal and the anti-corruption movement were the creations of the Sonia Gandhi era – under whose leadership a large bunch of uncouth politicos and bureaucrats looted this country right and left, and built personal empires of wealth across the country and abroad. It is an irony of the times that the same man, Kejriwal, rode to power on the eve of the New Year on the express support of the Sonia establishment.

Can we blame him? Ideally, he has done something which he should never have. Many of us are still not fully convinced whether his decision to join politics, which apparently created a wedge in the anti-corruption movement in this country and set Anna apart, was a right one. His intentions are not questioned. He, as we got to know over the past several months, is a young Anna himself. But, fighting against corruption is one thing, and entering the portals of corruption and presiding over an empire of the corrupt, even if the idea is to break the evil mould from within, is quite another.

Knowing the way the corrupt politicos and bureaucracy are well-entrenched and hand-in-glove with each other, and knowing the precariousness of his minority status in the Delhi assembly, and with due note of the potential for mischief Sheila Dikshit and Co might carry with them, the best of Kejriwal and his team are probably fighting a losing battle from Day One in power. Our hopes are however pinned on the man – the man who, with rare grit and determination decided to take his fight right into the enemy camp, stood against the ‘most powerful and wily woman’ in Delhi, and stunned the world by trouncing her and packing her out of power lock stock and barrel. He did so with, at best, a cynical smile on his face.

When the political pundits predicted he and his party might win four to five seats, he proved them wrong and carried with him nearly 30 seats, came close to the seat share of the largest party the BJP, walked past all and formed the government. His sense of sincerity to the cause is his main hallmark; no one doubts that. Not even Sonia Gandhi.

The Kejriwal juggernaut’s path is, by common reckoning, paved with hurdles. Sheila Dikshit fired the first shot by making it clear – by way of reassurance to the corrupt bunch of bureaucrats which she spawned in the Delhi administration -- that the Congress’ support is not unconditional. “We are around to pull him down at the nearest opportunity,” was what she sort of meant, also making it clear to all in the capital that she has some life left yet in her throat. Shame is not part of her political being. The humiliating defeat she suffered in the New Delhi constituency has not tempered her mood. She thinks there still is sufficient scope for manipulations, to ultimately pull down the Kejriwal edifice, and prove the people wrong -- and by extension, prove her posturing as right. Delhi is the capital of machinations; there is no reason to belittle the potential for political mischief on the Congress party's part.

How the Aam Aadmi’s darling would keep his show going is only a matter of speculation for us, watching this show from the sidelines. He will have his agenda set for the coming days, then the weeks and then possibly for the year; which is if he is not going back to the people at the time of the next General Elections. Time will be running short for him. Setting the agenda for governance in Delhi is just a part of the AAP’s major concerns now; and, in case, even by chance he is able to remain in saddle for a while, the party will first have to have its LS poll agenda fixed for Delhi and beyond. Outside of government, those like Prashant Bhushan are already at work, pushing both the anti-corruption and organizational agendas.

Here is a party that has virtually no organizational network outside of Delhi and its vicinity, its support building up in a jiffy across the country, and worse, just a couple of months are left for GE 2014. Any alliance, one suspects, is out of question, for the reason the entire political establishment in this country is so corrupt that who is there for the AAP to ally with, other than perhaps –perhaps—a Mamata Banerjee, a Naveen Patnaik or the Left?

When it comes to the Left, it had only contempt for those like Kejriwal or Anna Hazare. Communists were the ones who, history tells us, stood by the British and tried to pull the legs of India's freedom movement leaders. Why? Because the "wise" men had stupid reasons to advance, as is still the case. In a way, it would be better if things are left unsaid about the Left as a whole, led mostly and almost always by rootless wonders. The breed of self-styled, JNU-bred intellectuals who think they are ‘ushering in a revolution’ by ‘connecting’ with the masses through the ‘electronic media’ or the Bengali-led English press, is a class by themselves. The results of the assembly elections in the five states, where they fielded candidates in a few if only to prove their relevance, had them possibly gasping for breath. They managed to cross the 1000 vote mark in just one constituency, whereas Invalid stole a march over them in the rest of the constituencies.

It is right under their nose that Arvind Kejriwal became the hero of the Aam Aadmi – a constituency that the Communists would have us believe rightly belonged to them. Kejriwal showed the Communists there is life beyond lip-service when it came to helping the ordinary masses cutting across communal and religious barriers. He had no ideological baggage with him to mesmerize the people. He instead had an action plan for the poor of Delhi. Mamata Banerjee – another Aam Aadmi, though she is born a Bhadralok Brahmin—has virtually drowned the Communist ideology in the Hoobly and brought the poor and the disadvantaged right under her wings by being one among them, speaking in their idiom and working for them. Did the Left learn a lesson from it in the past two years? Does it have even a miniature version of a Kejriwal in their midst? Rather, the likes of Kejriwal are seen with cynicism in the echelons of the Left -- a "season's mushroom". They would rather continue running the revolutionary parties as an elitist racket divided between the ‘leaders’ drawn from Bengal and Kerala –two states on a vast nation’s sidelines. Any wonder no good word came from the Left when a Kejriwal juggernaut rode to governance in Capital Delhi, raising the slogan, among others, “Inquilab Zindabad” from Kejriwal’s own throat?

In yet another winter of a nation's discontentment, Arvind Kejriwal and his team have seized an opportunity. Had he not, he would have been failing in his duty. He was not foolish enough to cut a sorry figure. Under the circumstances, and having taken the plunge in politics, this looks like the best way forward. In the minimum, we, the well-wishers of the anti-corruption movement in this country, are hopeful he and his team will have the courage, if not the experience, to break the filthy system from within, and put the political robbers and commission agents in this country on notice. In the minimum, again, the team has helped further the cause in a limited way already: it has turned the ‘prince charming’ of India’s governing family into an anti-corruption crusader himself. Sonia’s men and women are not sulking though. Ambika Soni for one. Not yet. premcee@gmail.com; indiahereandnow.com

Last edited by Premchandran; 12-29-2013 at 11:42 PM
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