An Indian view on history, current affairs and politics

March 27, 2023

The Monk who sold aam aadmi’s ferrari

There is no doubt upcoming 2014 parliamentary election is going to be a historic one. For the first time positive agendas like development and effective governance are dominating the political discourse. Anti corruption agenda has got a major fillip with entry of AAP. Countless elections were fought with corruption as the main electoral plank. Rise of VP Singh post Bofors scandal is still the best example of electoral reversals driven solely by anti corruption agenda. Despite the cynicism prevalent since then, Arvind Kejriwal has successfully managed to rake this issue up once more. There are stark similarities between both situations. The anti corruption campaign led by VP Singh of an unblemished and impeccable character tapped into the prevalent anger against Bofors scam. Kejriwal, with an equally unblemished record latched on to the anti corruption crusade fed by scams of astronomical proportions. With Development agenda firmly owned by Narendra Modi and anti corruption by Kejriwal, battle lines seem drawn for the elections.Unfortunately for Rahul Gandhi who till a month back was the darling of anti Modi brigade has been pushed to the sidelines.

It’ll be too early to assume a Modi vs Kejriwal battle is on the cards, however it’s clear that a lackluster Rahul has suffered at the hands of Kejriwal. It’s evident from a recent survey that shows only around 3% people prefer him for PM post as against 24% for Kejriwal and 71% for Modi. Till a couple of months back Mr. Gandhi was in high 30′s.

Robin Sharma, in his book, “The monk who sold his Ferrari”, said, “Never underestimate the power of simplicity”. Kejriwal has only proved him right. With an image of an ordinary man, who rejected a life of comfort as IT commissioner, fighting a lonely battle against corrupt high and mighty, he has been successful in galvanizing support for him and his party. Public sympathy and mobilization that started as Anna’s Janlokpal movement and Ramdev’s agitation against black money soon turned into AAP’s vote bank. AAP successfully built on that support and carved out a space for itself as an opposition. They aggressively raised issues that both the ruling congress and principle opposition BJP ignored. The transformation from an activist to an opposition leader was an easy one for Kejriwal. As an opposition leader Kejriwal was on a vicious and relentless attack against corrupt. He didn’t mind calling politicians and businessmen thieves and was vocal in expressing his disgust against delay in action against the corrupt. He even came up with a 370 page document that he claimed had proof against Sheila Dixit and demanded action in 7 days. Kejriwal succeeded as an opposition leader. More importantly he succeeded in selling a dream of corruption free society to people.

Fresh from their success in Delhi, the AAP is now eyeing state elections in Haryana and the upcoming national elections. The euphoria at forming the government in Delhi is now being fed by round the clock hysterical media coverage. The party is no longer as vitriolic in attacks against corrupt and this disappointing their own supporters. It was surprising to see Kejriwal asking Dr. Harshvardhan for proof against Sheila Dixit. Is that a sign of softening stand against corruption ? Maybe not. The fight against corruption is a long and arduous one and it takes a tough decision maker to streamline an entire government to perform honestly.

Unfortunately Mr. Kejriwal has failed to display that decision making till now. On the contrary, his stand at various junctures in his personal or political life show he is an escapist with no clear vision of future. He moved from his job in Tata Steel to IRS to Aruna Roy to Anna and then to AAP. For a person justifying his foray into politics as one to clean the system from inside, he does not have a single example of fight against corruption when he was in the system, be it IRS or now as CM of Delhi. Of course two weeks is a short span of time for such an expectation but remember he wanted action against corrupt in a week. Not even a single investigation has been ordered against the malpractices AAP was so vocal about prior to elections.

Decision on giving 20000 Ltrs of water per month free or 50% reduction in electricity fares were made not only because they were election promises but because they were easy to make. While the effect of the subsidies will take some time to become evident, all it took for Kejriwal to get this done was an executive order. How much this benefits common man in Delhi still remains to be seen and hence to claim these as promises met is as hasty as expecting action against corruption. The declaration to open a corruption complaint number turned into a decision to setup a helpline to advise on how to nab a corrupt through sting. Ironical, looking their reaction to media-sarkar’s sting. An ill conceived idea since a sting is not admissible as evidence in court unless a FIR is lodged and panchnama of recording device done by police prior to that. As suspicious Delhi officials refuse to meet or discuss work with people, this decision may boomerang on Kejriwal. The much touted Janata durbar turned into a chaotic fiasco today.

There’s a growing concern if decisions are being thought through before implementation. AAP leaders in their haste to win elections have set very high expectations. Unfortunately their actions thus far have shown they lack the leadership and vision needed to fulfill those promises. Two weeks into the government and the coterie that surrounds Kejriwal has already made embarrassing goof ups. A faithful electorate that has bought into the dream of a corruption free Utopian state governed by Kejriwal, is willing to forgive and forget every mistake in the hope that over time Kejriwal will be
able to deliver. The party currently depends on the overtly friendly media personalities for favorable coverage and propagation but this artificial support cannot take them very far.

There is no reason to doubt Kejriwal’s intentions at the moment and despite all the claims of “NAYAK” like governance, one should give Kejriwal the time he needs to deliver. Glorification of Kejriwal by media not withstanding, the real discovery is voters of India. They’ve voted him in power and are willing support him through all the mistakes his government makes. Hope he doesn’t end up as the monk who sold aam aadmi’s Ferrari.