Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Is Kejriwal the joker in the pack – or just the joker???

Kejriwal’s entry into politics has created even more sensation than his “crusade” against corruption. He was expected to upset the apple cart, but no one expected the methods he has adopted. In many ways he is doing more of what politicians normally do – silly, populist, sensationalist things. And in other ways, he is charting a totally new path – working like media companies do – believing in “scoops”. But even here, Kejriwal is going ahead into unchartered territories – for he is not worried about having to present evidence to back his outrageous claims. In the process, Kejriwal, rather than being the unpredictable joker in the political pack, is looking more and more like a circus joker. Entertaining, but untrustworthy and unreliable.

In today’s world, it is not difficult to create sensations. It’s a world in which people like Assange are treated like heroes – even being considered for the Time Magazine Person of the Year award – rather than a plain terrorist who exposes sovereign secrets through debious means. His actions can cause conflict around the world; unsettle long-standing peace arrangements between nations and even make the most trusting and eternal friendships suspect. When the US Government takes action against him, it is branded “intolerant” and a “suppressor of freedom”, rather than being seen as one removing a rogue element from the world. In today’s world, people have turned decidedly anti-establishment; and any person who dons that hat is considered a hero.

It’s the same in India too. There is a high degree of anger at the slowing economy. That is starting to hurt. Inflation is running high, jobs are not being created and savings are being squeezed. Suddenly, the confidence of the people is being replaced by diffidence. Suddenly, rather than looking at a bright future, people are starting to worry about a bleak one. In a situation like this, it is obvious for people to attack the authorities. Kejriwal is merely seizing that opportunity. His credibility so far has been higher than that of the main opposition party’s. The question is: is this reason enough for Kejriwal to behave the way he is? Is this the political alternative one is seeking?

Kejriwal has been hurling unproven accusations against one and all. First it was against Gadkari who was accused of trying to scuttle a demand for a probe against the NCP in the irrigation scam in Maharashtra. Sure, Gadkari is entirely capable of doing this considering how deeply the BJP’s hands are involved in the corruption business. But did we get to see even an iota of evidence; or are we just expected to behave like omniscient people and “connect the dots” – the most popular phrase these days. By connecting the dots, we are supposed to see the real picture. That Gadkari is a corrupt man. C’mon Kejriwal, you can do better than that.

Likewise, the charges against Robert Vadra are clearly intended to created a sensation. Here is the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, the most powerful political person in India. Since there is no direct way to get her, the next best is to get her son-in-law. Now I would have no complaints against this, provided some evidence was presented. But again, we are expected to merely connect the dots – basically imagine up things that don’t exist. Kejriwal has merely used published information to hurl accusations against this man. His accusations have been denied with data by DLF. Experts have ruled that neither DLF nor Vadra are public figures and that the Government cannot initiate action unless there is a complaint against them. Yet, has Kejriwal done that? Has he filed an FIR? Has he filed a case in the court? No, he has merely hurled an accusation. The sensation-crazy media has amplified it in hopes of a higher TRP. And we expect the Government to start investigations against him. Yet, when there were similar accusations against Kejriwal himself and his colleagues Kiran Bedi and the Bhushans, there was no offer to be investigated. In fact, at that time, the Government was branded as “targeting the crusaders”. C’mon Kejriwal, don’t behave like a joker.

Then this drama about asking people to stop paying electricity charges in Delhi. The reason it is all so stupid is that everyone knows that utilities in India are under-priced; not over. Utilities lose money. One of the reasons for this is the theft of power. On one day, we want the government to cut T&D losses (which includes theft), and on a different day, we want it to restore power to the homes of such thieves. Such flip-flops are obviously random; they are also extremely demoralizing to the administration. If they do something, they are damned; if they don’t, they are damned too. Kejriwal should first try to understand issues before raising sensationalist alarms. Delhi’s power tariffs are lower than Mumbai’s. The higher tariffs for certain people go on to subsidize power to other more disenfranchised people. Even if the Government made profits from power distribution – which it doesn’t – it uses those profits to subsidize other welfare programs. Profits – if at all – in a Government department don’t mean the politician take the money home. It only means that the resources are being deployed elsewhere. By picking on one part of the Government’s program and ignoring the rest, one can prove anything. People complain about diesel price hikes, but forget that the Government is only losing money on diesel, not making profits.

But given the climate around the world and in India, Kejriwal is being given wide publicity. We are now expected to wait for “yet another sensational revelation” today. We are supposed to sit on the edges of our seats, waiting for the next episode of the drama to start. Political parties have already grown weary of Kejriwal. Apart from the routine demands for a “probe”, the BJP has been muted in the Vadra matter; the Congress likewise in the Gadkari case. It’s a question of time before the people also develop a disdain for this rumor monger. Kejriwal’s relationship with the voters could end up becoming a one-night stand. It’s a matter of time before they realize he is nothing but a joker.

The real truth is that Kejriwal is pushing forward an untenable method. By this logic, his party should be called the Scoop Party or the Scam Party. He is doing the same thing the BJP does – criticize without offering a solution. Or letting us know what his own vision is, except of course for the Lokpal. It would be better if he focused on his own plans and communicated those to people….

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