By Sanjay Jha
Filibustering and endless fulminations can only get you that far; that is the lesson so far in the hyper-kinetic world of Arvind Kejriwal, a social activist who had cleverly disguised his alter-ego that was a wannabe politician. Fact is, the biggest frailty of the human race is that three-letter word “ ego “ , it ensnares you with imperceptible deception. Kejriwal got consumed by personal ambitions and an irrational obstinacy on the Lok Pal bill that after a time became unbearably incongruous. Now how long can you sound so exhilaratingly cynical about everything about India; for sure India needs some serious shake-ups and perhaps a clinical purification too , but you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater ; this phrase like being above suspicion like Caesar’s wife has dominated political discourse since the Jantar Mantar days. With reason though, I must concede.
Kejriwal’s political ambitions are his independent choice, and in fact, maybe an appropriate strategy given the peculiar lassitude displayed by several political parties to be pro-active in bringing rapid change. But where the OB Van politician has gone completely berserk is his half-baked research, selective targeting, an incendiary abuse of our parliamentary traditions and complete absence of a clear-cut growth plan for India. Mr Kejriwal has been a smart Aleck so far by focusing on a popular agenda with an emotional connect, corruption, but he is now being increasingly perceived as a hit and run man, worse, frequently off target. Shoot and scoot is a guerilla tactic that at best yields short-term results. His problems are accentuated by IAC’s fragile credibility, thanks to the shady dealings of the Bhushans, Mayank Gandhi, Ms Damania, Manish Sisodia and Kejriwal’s own NGO. Change-agents cannot afford to wear an armor with gaping chinks in them.
IAC’s conspicuous silence on FDI in multi-brand retail, job reservations , Kashmir, Land Acquisition bill , Communal Violence Bill, NNPT, NCTC etc show that the party has been formed in a desperate hurry. To give them the benefit of doubt, clearly IAC is inchoate, but early pronouncements are needed on critical issues,; country’s don’t run on singular obsessions. And trite photo-op protestations when tearing electricity bills hardly conjures confidence. For Kejriwal, the relentless reliability on media has begun giving diminishing returns, it is an inevitable result of mindless gerrymandering. People are sagacious enough to see through a hoax.
The non-sexy Aadhaar could be the game-changer in stifling corruption in India ; but we always look for populist stuff, quick-fix playing to the gallery solutions. I agree that capturing public imagination requires a certain ingenuity, but sustainable change in a country desperate for transformation needs constant gardening, not a one-off razzmatazz show. The bane of our interminable woes of late has been land, but it is a problem that was conveniently overlooked by the political class, given its complex nature and humongous asset appreciation. Thus, the Land Acquisition Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill must be publicly debated, as there are apprehensions that while the zamindari system may have been obliterated, the corporate land-shark is the new feudal bully. But it is not getting the space it deserves. Merely blaming past governments for today’s problems is rather stupid; since when did clairvoyance become commonplace?
Kejriwal’s reluctance to respond to Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh’s open allegation that a miffed, petulant, and sulking Kejriwal rejected from NAC transmogrified into an intransigent rebel, a shibboleth –spewing iconoclast who damned the UPA in every sentence confirms what is rumored to be not a rumor. Has Kejriwal been driven by personal ambition rather than genuine social interests? Is the IAC just a rabble-rouser gang that is against everything because anti-establishment sells in a country engulfed with serious challenges? It would really be a pity as India needs constructive collaboration, not conflict based on parochial plans.
Kejriwal should know better that the gigantic proposed Lok Pal bill is not a magic panacea, it needs to be concomitantly propped up by lesser bureaucracy, nifty decision-making, and severe strictures on supply-side of corruption. In the absence of that, it will be like curing a cancer patient with an aspirin.
Asinine statements like mentioning Tahrir Square reveals that Kejriwal is restless with an intrinsic disruptive model within, who believes not in intelligent reconstruction but unalloyed decimation of India’s time-honored democratic institutions. It also confirms that he is still a political tyro. At best, Kejriwal is today a serial accuser running around like a headless chicken for the next visible attractive goal; he of course, studiously chooses to avoid Narendra Modi. In that sense, Kejriwal is a slippery customer who realizes that he can manipulate the current quagmire in which most political parties are swamped. The young of India are impressionable, vulnerable to fashionable anti-establishment propaganda. It is this urban middle-class constituency busy comparing Android phones with Apple’s latest gizmo that Kejriwal appeals to; but Facebook support is as flaky as a chocolate pastry.
The world’s largest, most colorful , vivacious democracy does not need a lifeline; it is a country whose time has come. A young country stands at the cusp of a historic period , torn between the opportunities of globalization and the challenge of carrying 500 million people forward as its principal beneficiary, currently struggling at the precipice. For all its problems though , India is on the move and headed in the right direction. And Arvind Kejriwal’s calibrated anarchy cannot stop it!