Whether it is a blessing or a curse, but all public figures have to live with the fact that anybody and everybody will pass a judgement about them; everybody will have an opinion about them; many like the media will emphatically repeat their conclusions till a sizeable number of persons actually start believing them, irrespective of the underlying facts; some will love them, while others will hate them. However, one thing is for sure, people will comment. To borrow Amartya Sen’s famous phrase, we are “argumentative Indians” and we will continue to argue. And, am no different. Here I am to argue my version of the man of the moment - Arvind Kejriwal - a man who is hogging the limelight and the dust at the same time; a man who is rising and falling at the same time; a man who is a politician and a non-politician at the same time; and a man who is understood and misunderstood at the same time.
Till a couple of years ago, Arvind Kejriwal was the man who had helped bring the Right to Information Act (RTI) for the common man. Until recently, he was the darling of the Congress party that ironically still gives itself the sole credit for bringing the RTI. Then came the Anna movement in 2011. Arvind became a household name. He was a part of the ‘Team Anna’. He was the right hand of Anna Hazare. Anna wanted to cleanse the political system and Arvind agreed. Anna decided to enter politics and Arvind agreed. In no time, however, Anna decided he made a mistake and wanted to go back on his decision. But, this time, Arvind did not agree. He felt betrayed. He felt he had made a promise to the people and he was morally bound to take it to its logical conclusion. Much to Anna’s dismay, Arvind decided to enter politics to be a part of the system that he wanted to change.
Arvind has been under constant media scrutiny for all that he is doing, not that he is complaining. It is a symbiotic relationship where both the parties are feeding off each other. However, his acts of exposing one politician after another, encouraging illegal acts like non-payment of electricity bills, and constant protests, have made people think. Is it right on his part to do so, or has he gone overboard? Are his intentions noble, or are there some hidden agendas?
These apprehensions bring us to the moot question - who is Arvind Kejriwal? Is he is an anti-corruption crusader? Is he a social activist? Is he a reformist? Is he a politician? Is he hungry for power for himself, or for the people he claims to represent? Is he an idealist? Is he an opportunist? Is he a misguided-soul-with-noble-intentions? Is he a puppet in the hands of some political parties?
The answer is as complex as the question itself. He is probably a mix of some of the afore-mentioned characteristics. He has his own share of strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, good and bad judgements, raised and quashed hopes, and dreams and nightmares. In short, he is a human being with dichotomies built-in. He is someone who wants to make India a better place - for you and for me. Even if one does not believe in him, he deserves the benefit of doubt - the way we give the benefit to people like Mayawati, Mulayam Singh, Narendra Modi, and many others like them, year after year. He definitely deserves a chance. After all, he is trying to do something unlike many armchair commentators who comment from the comfort of their air-conditioned drawing rooms. The least one can do is not to demoralize a self-motivated man working for a cause. Let him be. If he succeeds, we can bear the fruits of his sacrifices. On the other hand, if he fails, we have nothing to lose except for some raised hopes. Aren’t we used to that anyway?
(Shobhika Puri is a freelance writer)