He came, he riled, he resigned

kejriwal

 

By Rekha Bhattacharjee

There is a long and fascinating history behind India’s capital city. From Indraprastha of 400 BCE to Luteyns’ New Delhi, the teeming northern Indian megapolis has been through seven major avatars and numerous rulers. In the history spread over three millennia, Delhi may have seen majestic Moghuls and splashy Sultans but never before Arvind Kejriwal, a ruler who galvanised Dilliwalas so much.

The nationwide polarisation for and against the enigmatic politician has accentuated even further with the sudden resignation of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government earlier this month.

AAP leadership has come under heavy cannon-fire from, besides Congress and BJP, the electronic and print media. Phrases like designed martyrdom, well-choreographed harakiri and scripted drama are being used by the well-heeled media bosses to describe Arvind Keriwal’s resignation after failure to push his Jan Lokpal Bill through the Delhi Assembly.

Action against Mukesh Ambani

Among the many controversial decisions taken by the Kejriwal government, the alleged First Information Report (FIR) against the richest Indian on the planet Mukesh Ambani has been in the news headlines for a while now. The AAP government has reportedly directed the ACB to file the FIR against the Reliance chief Mukesh Ambani, Petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily, former Union minister Murli Deora and retired director general of hydrocarbons VK Sibal.

Both Congress and BJP have reacted sharply after the AAP government made announcements of the FIR against Mukesh Ambani and others but without naming them.

Media criticism

The day Arvind Kejriwal took oath as the Delhi Chief Minister, it was obvious to all that AAP government would not last long. While the die-hard AAP supporters are preparing for the future ‘battles’, some well-respected media commentators have been scathing in their criticism of the party which governed Delhi for a mere 49 days.

Outlook Group’s editorial chairman Vinod Mehta is among those who have expressed ‘disappointment’ over the quick exit route adopted by Arvind Kejriwal

“This is the end of a dream. The revolution has debarred itself. Instead of finding ways and means to govern, Kejriwal quit at the drop of a hat. This gamble will boomerang on him. The urban middle class will view the party as reckless demagogues.”

“Their first instinct is to resign. It cannot be my way or highway. They should try and find a way thorough compromise. The great hope in Indian politics has come crushing down,” Vinod Mehta mourned.

The veteran journalist is in no mood to accept it as a principled stand. “If there were differences on the bill they should have tried to iron them out. They should know they cannot fight the Ambanis from the streets of Delhi or from the Ramlila ground,” Vinod Mehta added.

‘Kejriwal is an escapist’

CNN-IBN, editor-in-chief, Rajdeep Sardesai  agrees with his senior colleague when he said: “Kejriwal always looked to resign from the first day. He took a huge gamble. The critics will call him an escapist and that he ran away from responsibilities. Kejriwal will believe that he will have a halo of martyrdom on the issue of Jan Lokpal. This was a jump to the national level in view of the Lok Sabha elections ahead”.

“He needed an aam aadmi issue to galvanize support and the Jan Lokpal Bill gave just that. The urban middle class is already questioning this recklessness. Only people below a certain income level are still supporting him. He wants to keep the left of centre space occupied by trying to fire off the shoulders of Mukesh Ambani. The real target is Lok Sabha. Kejriwal’s politics is of turbulence to capture the Indian mindspace,” Sardesai said in one of his channel’s discussions.

Future course

Arvind Kejriwal critics may accuse him of milking his brief tenure for all its grandstanding potential but those who have reposed faith in the AAP are optimistic about the future course this party would take.

By shaking the well-entrenched political interests to their very roots, AAP has met the expectations of their constituents and some media commentators.

” It could be argued that Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP have successfully mobilized popular anger against government arrogance, inefficiency and corruption,” reads an editorial in an Indian newspaper The Telegraph penned after Kejriwal became the Delhi CM. “The result is a potent force that has shaken the existing structures of Indian politics,” the opinion piece further says.

Kejriwal’s legacy and achievements

Even though Kejriwal and Co are preparing to take on their much larger (and nervous) foes in the Parliament elections, a number of opinion pieces are already talking about AAP ‘legacy’.

The former Delhi CM has changed the politics of India forever in many ways. One of the most significant change which we have already witnessed is the reluctance on the part of the mainstream parties to nominate candidates with criminal records.

The social scientists, media commentators, well-entrenched political interests and, more importantly, the common man on the Indian streets have all been enthralled (or appalled) by the emergence of this phenomenon called Arvind Kejriwal and his uniquely named outfit Aam Aadmi Party.

Mercurial rise of Kejriwal

The mercurial rise of Arvind Kejriwal and his political formation has made all the above-mentioned sit up and take notice for the simple reason that he has given hope to the ubiquitous ‘aam aadmi’ who had all but given up on the Indian political and administration systems. The AAP phenomenon has assumed power in spite of the corrosive cynicism the Indians have been nurturing for all these decades.

The recent elections for the Delhi Assembly undoubtedly mark a watershed in conducting Indian politics and campaigning for elections for so many reasons.

While Kejriwal and Co has debuted in a spectacular manner, they need to tackle the herculean task of what is being seen as a veritable explosion of their electorate’s pent-up aspirations. It would be a good idea to try to wrap mind around the last month’s happenings and try to work out what is cooking up in the great social laboratory that is India.

Kejriwal’s political model

The political model designed by Kejriwal thrives on challenging the cynicism. Whether AAP can deliver this and other promises or not, only coming months would be able to tell but the debate triggered by the Delhi election results is captivating the whole India.

It is interesting to note how some leading social scientists look at the unfolding of a movement which is threatening to change the complexion of Indian politics for all times to come.

Revolt against babucracy

“It’s a revolt against officialdom and highhandedness,” sociologist and author Dipankar Gupta said of the public support for the AAP. “It’s the same kind of thing you saw in Tahrir Square and Tunisia, but not against one dictator. It’s against 1,000 tyrants that parade around in the garb of democracy.”

“The AAP’s single biggest achievement has been to change the mood of significant sections of the country,” Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president of New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research writes.

“The AAP ideology, in short, apotheosises non-thought. The fact that its appeal is to a “moral sense” and not to the intellect is not accidental. It is intrinsic to its ideology,” the well-known columnist Prabhat Patnaik writes in The Indian Express.

“I consider this not only wrong but also fundamentally anti-democratic (notwithstanding all its celebration of the “aam aadmi””). What is more, it is the antithesis of the Left position, which apotheosises thought,” he further writes.

Ideology is not the only stumbling block bothering those who would like AAP to become a viable alternative of the established political parties. It is becoming increasingly hard for 1968-born Arvind Kejriwal, and his totally inexperienced team, to address the aspirations (and grievances of course) of the Delhi electorate.

The voters’ belief that Arvind Kejriwal has some kind of magic wand is fueling the expectations which are impossible to redress.

The status quoists must be salivating over such scenarios but if Kejriwal and Co fail to consolidate their Delhi gains, it would be nothing but a national tragedy.

 

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Posted by on Apr 9 2014. Filed under Editorial, Indian News, Opinion, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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