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The Curious Case of Benjamin Burton is an interesting film about a man who was born a grown up and started getting smaller with age. It reminds me of a man in Indian politics whose conscience was gigantic once upon a time, and has shrunk to the abysmal levels with time. Do not cringe when I take his name – I am talking about Arvind Kejriwal.
Disclaimer: Do not expect a very intellectual article, because I am none. Do not expect me to show mercy on Arvind Kejriwal because I will show none.
My first knowledge of Arvind Kejriwal goes back to the Parivartan days in 2005, when he was famous in the RTI circles as an RTI crusader. In those days when small parties like Bharat Uday Mission and Lok Paritran of IITians had started experimenting with the idea to change the system by entering politics. However, internal strife and clash of ego did them in and they were all but gone by 2008. India was not to see another movement till Anna Hazare’s in 2011, the next time I heard from him.
The movement by Anna Hazare for Lokpal was something which had the potential to give birth to the Indian Spring. It got widespread support from the middle class and mobilized masses against corruption to a level not seen after the 1974 Sampoorna Kranti movement. The movement could have succeeded in achieving its goal of a Janlokpal if it was not sabotaged and trivialized by insiders, the the foremost of them being Arvind Kejriwal.
Arvind Kejriwal has been to Anna Hazare what Lalu has been to Jayprakash Narayan. While both maintain that they have great respect for their political mentors, no one has done a greater damage to the Gurus than their own chelas. If the comparison with Lalu shocks you, then let me tell you this- In 1990, Lalu was just like what Kejriwal is today: a Messiah for the poor, theatrical, rustic, secular, epitome of social justice and so fascinated with austerity that he would go to the Secretariat on bicycle. Fast forward to 2014, and we know how things turned out for him. Public memory is so short that we are ready once again to experiment with yet another Pied piper of democracy.
The cracks in the Team Anna started appearing as the movement reached its critical phase. While Anna Hazare was on a Hunger strike, new elements started infiltrating the movement, people like the theatrical Baba Ramdev and the Bhushans. Team Anna committed follies one after the another and with their antics, made a mockery of the whole effort. Anna’s rigid stand, the motor-mouth indiscretion of his team and the mis-guidance he got from the likes of Kejriwal were one of the most important reasons which saw the dramatic (and tragic) demise of what could have been a revolution. It will not be totally wrong to say that Kejriwal and his men sabotaged the Anna movement and carved out a political party for themselves.
To cut the story short, the Lokpal movement collapsed, Anna went back to Ralegaon Siddhi and Team Anna split into half, one half going on to become what is now the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), of which Kejriwal is the Supremo. AAP contested the Legislative Assembly and stunned both the Grand Old Party and the Party with a difference, becoming the second largest party in Delhi after BJP. Congress was vanquished, however BJP and AAP were both short of majority.
Needless to say, AAP was the biggest revelation of 2013. It managed to show a big middle finger to the political hegemony which was hogging all the space from the streets to the parliament. For the first time, India was looking at a credible Third front, a challenge and option to the UPA, NDA and the ones “also in the race”. AAP was the new ray of hope for the Indian middle class, at least till things went horribly wrong.
Throughout the run up to the Delhi election, the Aam Aadmi Party was pitted against Congress on the issues of corruption and inflation. Thus it came as a big shock to the people, when it formed a coalition government with the very same Congress. Whether the inexperienced AAP fell into a trap of the much shrewder Congress or was there a sell-out, this is something which will never be known. However the same Kejriwal who had earlier waved 370 pages of proofs against Sheila Dixit, in fact made a volte-face and asked Harshawardhan for proofs when alleged that he was not taking any action against her.
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