Arvind Kejriwal : The man and his politics

Public life in India is highly corrupt. To avail any government service, i.e. from getting a gas connection to acquiring a passport, one may have to pay bribe. Nepotism is rampant in distribution and allocation of resources allocated by government. Starting a business activity is a nightmare. On the other hand corrupt politicians allow access of national resources to crooked businessmen for a price.  Most government run services, from education, healthcare, public distribution, power generation and distribution, are plagued by corruption and inefficiency. If service is privatized, operators charge exorbitant price without providing proper service. Law and order is poorly maintained. Police is controlled by government to serve objectives of  party in power. Justice is slow and can be influenced. It is not that government has bad intent. However, government is unable to execute its intents. A lot of improvement has happened in last 65 years, but progress is slow and country has a long way to go. Public that has voted regularly in election after election at central and state levels, is getting impatient.
Fed up with rampant corruption in our daily lives, society is throwing up new leaders in India of 2012. These people are from middle class, well educated, intelligent, idealistic and passionate about their cause. Moreover, these people are intensely honest. To name one such person is Arvind Kejriwal. Arvind Kejriwal is a graduate from IIT. He cleared Indian Adminstrative Service examination and joined Indian Revenue Service. He took voluntary retirement from the position of Joint Director to pursue his passion, that is to fight against corruption.
Mr. Kejriwal is an anticorruption crusader. His overwhelming desire is to empower common people in their fight against corruption. Along with Ms. Aruna Roy, Kejriwal was instrumental in creation of Right to Information act. Using the provisions of this act any citizen of India can question government of India how their tax payer money is being used. Kejriwal has received Raman Magsasay Award for his achievement. 
In 2011, Kejriwal along with several other like minded citizens, namely Prashant Bhushan, Kiran Bedi, Santhosh Hegde and others, under the leadership of Anna Hazare demanded that government create an autonomous body called Lokpal which will have power to register and investigate allegation of corruption at high places, including at Prime Ministers Office. Despite several rounds of negotiations, and parliament agreeing to the proposal, Lokpal bill was not passed in the parliament due to various reasons. 

In Oct, 2012 Mr. Kejriwal decided to form his own political party. Since forming his party, which is yet to be named, Mr. Kejriwal has declared he will show everyone how politics can be done honestly. Ever since forming his party, Kejriwal is attacking high profile people from high society, business houses and political parties on their under hand dealings. So far, he has targeted Robert Vadra, son in law of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, DLF, a billion dollar real estate giant, Salman Khurshid, law minister of India. He has promised that he has several such exposes up his sleeve. Kejriwal has also been agitating against rising electricity tariff in Delhi. He has restored connectivity in households where connection was disconnected. It was touted that connection was restored in the house of a daily wage worker. Upon subsequent enquiry, it was revealed that the person whose electricity connection was restored had several air conditioners, washing machine etc in his house, and he was not exactly a daily wage earning laborer.
Of course, public is lapping up antics of Kejriwal.  Kejriwal has caught public imagination. No one can doubt commitment of Arvind Kejriwal to the cause of empowering poor and disadvantaged. His intensity is palpable, conviction to the cause very evident, and his attitude is uncompromising.  His approach to politics is unconventional. He is approaching voters directly through intelligent use of mass media.
In todays charged atmosphere it will be considered a sacrilege to comment critically about  Arvind Kejriwal. However, I find his political approach to be populist and a practice of politics of grievance. This approach of naming and shaming people is going to haunt him when he comes to position of power. Effectiveness of these approaches is doubtful for many politicians and businessmen who are thick skinned and shameless. These people will keep on doing what they do, at best may be slow down a little for this tide of public sympathy to wane.

Kejriwal wants voters to decide policy of government. In this direct to voter approach, it will be imperative that all individuals in the society, not only politicians, are reasonably honest and fair. In a diverse country like India, with so many caste, community, religion language, etc., it may be difficult to get a unified view on a given policy without pull from vested interest groups.  No one in his / her right mind will advocate price rise and change in their life style. Sometimes leaders have to take decision that are unpopular, as parents take decision about their kids watching TV. Once you make a difficult decision, you become unpopular as a party or as leader. 

Many have questioned the shoot and scoot approach of Arvind Kejriwal. The questions he has raised point towards a shady relationship. It also insinuate that some one has used his proximity to power, for his personal benefit. However, it is being asked why such cases are not being discussed in court of law, but in court of public opinion? Is this a clever way to enhance ones support base by cleverly mobilising public opinion? What about the reputation of person/s being attacked? What if they are exonerated by court of law? How will their reputation be repaired? However, given the slow process our legal system, what alternative Kejriwal and party have?

There is problem with Kejriwal’s demand for a lokpal too. All people that will constitute lokpal and its machinery will come from the same society. There is no way these people will be any more or less honest than existing law and order machinery. In the end, there is fear that a common man may be forced to bribe to two separate bodies – Lokpal and regular law and order machinery.

Arvind Kejriwal has demonstrated his intense honesty  and courage of conviction so far. To run a country as diverse as India he will need vision and plan, as well. I think India needs policy that encourages open and transparent dealing for our daily lives, India needs effective law and order machinery and efficient justice system. These to work efficiently we need police reform and judicial reform. There has to be exemplary and speedy punishment for violators of rule of law. All these need serious debate, discourse and action. If Kejriwal focuses more on disruption of the system, when will he work for synthesis and creation. If Kejriwal comes to power he will need vision, he will need system to implement his vision. In the absence of these, all his plans will fall flat. Let Kejriwal come to power, people will  evaluate him for his ability to deliver on the promises. We may realise that it is one thing to accuse some ones action, other to defend your own decision.

Dear Kejriwal, here’s why ‘direct democracy’ doesn’t work

Why is Team Kejriwal scared of taking Vadra to court? …

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