Arvind Kejriwal! You made history but don’t become one

Arvind Kejriwal (AK) has done the pheonix by rising from nowhere to virtually owning the Delhi assembly!

arvind kejriwal

It is not my intention to analyze how he managed to do it and what were the factors that led to this remarkable victory because that is already done ad nauseam. I am more concerned about going forward and this is where AK will do well to learn from history.

Circa 1982: NT Rama Rao started his Telugu Desam party in Andhra and within a year he won a landslide victory by securing 201 seats out of 270 against Indira Gandhi, then PM.

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Circa 1984 Dec: Rajiv Gandhi swept the Lok Sabha polls by winning a massive mandate of 404 seats (a feat that his illustrious grand father or mother could not even come close). Incidentally, there were only 2 BJP members in that lok sabha viz AB Vajpayee and LK Advani

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1991:Jayalalitha’s ADMK with Congress won 225 out of 234 seats in Tamilnadu and the then incumbent party DMK managed to get only 2 seats.

jayalalitha

The common theme amongst these examples is that all of them wasted the huge mandate possibly because they weren’t ready for that! Or possibly the results got into their heads!! You may be already aware about what happened to them and more importantly how the nation/states lost out despite giving them such clear and massive mandates.

Now let us look at the other extreme.

At the same time as Jayalalitha, PV Narasimha Rao took over the mantle of PM leading the INC which won only 244 seats (less than the minimum 272 for a majority) but then transformed the nation.

pvn

So Mr Kejriwal, you have a choice of fulfilling the aspirations of the Delhi voters who have given a never-before drubbing to everybody else in your party’s favour or letting the verdict get into your head.  You have got a second chance but you may not get a third one.  More importantly, Delhi and perhaps the Nation will go back to the cynical mindset.

Wish you (and Delhi) all the best!! Jai Hind

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And Arvind Kejriwal is a common man!

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There is absolutely no doubt that Arvind Kejriwal (AK) has become a meteor in the Indian political scenario!  But is he a common man as eloquently described by many?  Let’s look at this description deeply.

  1. For those uninitiated, AK is an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur where he studied Mechanical Engineering.  As many would know, getting admission into the prestigious IIT’s is no mean task and is a feat done by a few thousand out of lakhs of applicants.  And AK is a common man!
  2. AK then joined Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and served in the Income Tax department in different roles. And AK is a common man!
  3. It now gets even more interesting.  AK was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2006 for Emergent Leadership.  This Award is considered to be Asia’s Nobel Prize and has been instituted by Rockfeller Brothers.  Let’s leave out the conspiracy theories for a moment and let’s take a look at the awardees.  I see the names of Acharya Vinobha Bhave, Baba Amte, MS Subbulakshmi, Jaiprakash Narayan, Verghese Kurien, Dr Shantha of Cancer Institute amongst many others from different countries in Asia.  The reason for giving AK this award in 2006 is “his contribution to the enactment of the Right to Information Act and for his efforts to empower the poorest citizens of India”.  While the nation came to know of AK only during Anna Hazare’s movement in 2011, the award jury had identified him for his contribution as early as 2006!!  It would be interesting to know that the RTI Act was passed by the Parliament only in 2005!!  You can draw your own conclusions.  And AK is a common man!
  4. I do not know if someone has made the effort to calculate the amount of media time that AK has garnered in the last two years, ever since he has been one of the key figures in the Anna movement.  But nobody will doubt the fact that he has received extensive coverage, mostly positive, from the so-called mainstream media (MSM).  And AK is a common man!
  5. He made outrageous promises (including passing of the Jan Lokpal Bill on 29th December 2013 which incidentally is today) as part of his party’s manifesto and yet the media called him a politician with a difference.  And AK is a common man!
  6. I have lost count of the number of flip-flops that he and his team members have done in the last few months and yet no one is even making a mention of them.  And AK is a common man!
  7. AK called both Congress and BJP names and yet has taken the support of Congress to form the government.  And AK is a common man!
  8. Thousands of people travel on the Delhi Metro everyday and nobody pays them any attention.  But AK takes the metro to attend his swearing-in ceremony and the media is gaga about it.  And AK is a common man!

A request to all thinking Indians and to the media (if they are willing to listen).

Call AK as a shrewd politician, strategist, Chanakya, messiah or anything laudatory.  But please do not insult the common man by calling AK as one.

Winner of Round 1: Salman Khurshid

Headlines Today, a news channel recently made a splash that the Trust of which the Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid is the Patron has misappropriated funds meant for disabled persons.  There were some auxiliary charges as well and taking a cue from this, activist Arvind Kejriwal demanded a probe and the resignation of the Minister besides his arrest.  He also staged some demonstrations and got himself arrested for a brief while before returning to the media glare for more agitations.

This afternoon, Salman Khurshid called a press conference and showed some proofs that the camps were held and that the equipment has been given to the identified people.  When a reporter from the channel repeatedly asked him a question (for which I thought the Minister had already responded), the Minister lost his cool and it was soon chaos all around.

Now let us dissect the entire allegation and the response and analyze.

a. The main charge by the Channel and Arvind Kejriwal was that the Trust had shown money was spent for the designated people and the documentary evidence was a list of camps backed with other reports.  They claimed that the camps were not held at all and were only on paper.

Salman Khurshid has today given proofs that the camps were held.

If he is right then the allegation falls flat.  If he isn’t, then he has damned himself further.  There is also a third possibility that some camps as claimed were held and some were not.

It is also possible that just the camps were held but nothing further was done by the Trust.  It is for the media to prove the same.

I have not done the due diligence  and do not intend to do so but surely the media will now do the verification.

So, if the camps were actually held and the beneficiaries are genuine, then there is no wrongdoing by the Trust in which case the Channel and Arvind must apologize to the Minister or face the defamation suits in the court. On the contrary, if there are bogus entries in the list of beneficiaries, the Minister must be asked to leave the Union Cabinet.

b.  Everything else, such as forged affidavits, inaction by concerned Ministries etc are hugely dependent on this main charge of misappropriation of funds and should not colour the entire episode and investigation.

On watching the Minister’s Press Conference, I personally felt that he had responded admirably to the charges and allegations but it is early days to see whether his ‘evidences’ stand to scrutiny.  I also observed the intransigence of the media especially by Deepak of the Aaj Tak in not giving Salman Khurshid the courtesy of explaining his stance.

TeamS Anna?

The euphoria has evaporated & the happy days of posturing are over! Reality has struck.

The combination of Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, Santosh Hegde and the Bhushans that gave hope to millions and nightmares to the establishment besides regular feed for the media, has come apart.

Clearly shows how unprepared people cannot handle the long haul!!

Besides the one-off statements that seem to contradict the previous ones, there doesn’t seem to be a cohesive thought process in the group and there is no one person who is authorized to talk on behalf of the Team.

Even when the nation was going gung-ho about Team Anna, we had some questions to Anna and his team members and voiced our apprehensions about the viability of this outfit especially in the electoral process

A real sad end to a meteor!!

Answering the critics of Anna Hazare

I read in the newspapers today that Tariq Anwar of the NCP has made a series of categorical statements on the Lokpal Bill and the role played by Anna Hazare.

His first contention is that the Government blundered by acceding to the demands of Anna Hazare and that it will set a bad precedent.  Let us now look at this closely.

First of all, the Government did not anticipate the outpouring of support for Anna from the general public in Delhi and in almost every part of India.  This was an unmistakable signal from the people that corruption is a real issue and cannot be wished away by token gestures or announcements.  Had Anna’s fast not evoked any response from the general public, the Government would have certainly allowed him to die or arrested him on grounds of attempted suicide.

And before that the Congress and the Government tried to insinuate and cast aspersions on Anna that he was instigated by divisive forces like RSS and it hoped that this accusation would stick.  For once, the people and the media rejected this largely because Anna did not have a political background and he was fighting for an issue that most people felt very strong about.

And once the powers that be saw that this ruse did not work, they swung to the other end by praising Anna and requested him to end the fast without addressing the core issue.  Anna’s response to that was straight and blunt while he continued his fast.

Then the spokespersons of the Congress and the Government came to the media and said how this would amount to usurping the authority of Parliament as a law-making body.  Fortunately, again this did not hold water with the media and the people at large who saw the act as diversionary.  It once again showed how the Government was reluctant to seriously address the issue of corruption at the highest levels.

That Anna did not mince words about the composition of the Group of Ministers (GoM) especially about Sharad Pawar, added insult to injury.  That led to the exit of the Minister for Agriculture but even that did not cut ice with the fasting crusader who said “If one Pawar leaves, another one will come in” to mean that there is no dearth of corrupt politicians at high offices.  Yogi Ramdev went a step further and demanded the Government to release the names of 5 clean ministers for which there was no response.

Then the Government agreed to a Joint Committee but refused to give it any official sanction by ways of Notification.  I was reminded of the time-wasting tactics of the Government in the JPC for the 2G spectrum where they steadfastly rejected the demands and ultimately gave in.  Perhaps this was the negotiating strategy that clearly backfired because Anna and his team declined to accept a press release or a media announcement of the Joint Committee.  And while all this farce was going on, the movement gained strong momentum with students joining in the fast and declaring their support for Anna.

The other bone of contention was the issue of Chairman.  The Government stand was that if the Chairman was from the Activists side, then it will not nominate any Ministers because they cannot report to a non-elected representative.  That is a weak argument because this is Joint Committee is only to create the legal framework and not meant to be perpetual.  The elected representative also sounded very vague because even the PM is from the Rajya Sabha and hence not elected directly by the people!!

Strangely enough, the Anna team accepted it with a proviso that there would be a Co-Chairman from the activists side and after some deliberation that was also accepted.

That is the sequence of events as we see from the ringside.

Had a person from a political party held that fast, the Congress and the Government (remember that both are separate but are unfortunately seen as one) would have had a field day asking why that party did not do anything when it was in power or why it has corrupt people at its posts?  So while they tried that line, it did not go well with anybody.

Had Anna Hazare been alone in this without the likes of people such as Kiran Bedi, Swami Agnivesh, Sri Ravishankar, Yogi Ramdev, Arvind Kejriwal joing him, it is quite possible that the media would not have paid this level of attention and it would have drifted to a small paragraph in the page 8 of a newspaper.  The Government would have literally ignored and none would have been the wiser.  I am not suggesting that Anna would not have pulled it off but it would not have been easy had he gone alone.

For once, people across various walks of life cut across party lines and expressed their solidarity with Anna and that made a huge difference to the entire campaign.  Gandihiji touched the chord of the nation by his crusade without any modern telecommunication facilities and Anna has demonstrated once again how important it is to enlist the people’s support.  Had the fast gone in for a few more days, the Government would have been reduced to a laughing stock with its picking irrelevant and trivial objections to counter the movement.

It should be noted that the entire movement was seen as apolitical and the organizers did well to exclude any of the politicos to share the platform with Anna.  I am happy that the likes of Uma Bharati and Chautala were heckled when they tried to hijack the stage.

The Government was forced to do what it should have done on its own in the first place and it was pushed into the corner by a people’s movement.  Anyone who can create this kind of solidarity amongst the people for a worthy cause must be listened to by the Government and it should not be seen as a capitulation by the Government.

I am amused that Tariq Anwar feels that someone resorting to self immolation will get the kind of attention in the future.  It would be seen as a stunt by most people and the media will run it a few times and then forget all about it.  The Government would claim that it is the handiwork of the opposition and it will be business as usual.

This has once again brought to the fore the lethal combination of a person with integrity (unimpeachable as it stands today) using the weapon of Satyagraha on a issue that resonates with the common man.

Jai Hind!!

( I will write about the other criticisms of Tariq Anwar in my subsequent posts)

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