Ritesh K Srivastava
Several years back there was a quarrelsome policeman in our neighbourhood, who had made life difficult for the community. It took a lot of courage for 300-odd people to unite against the quirky cop and lodge a complaint against him.
The incident gave me firsthand experience of how power corrupts and how difficult it is for ordinary people to seek justice.
Today activism, political or otherwise, is the new buzz, thanks to the anti-graft movement spearheaded by Anna Hazare, which has given ordinary people a platform to vent their anger and awakened a new consciousness in the nation.
A prominent face to have emerged is that of Arvind Kejriwal. This former civil servant-turned RTI activist continues to breathe fire against top-notch politicians and corporate czars for conniving to loot the nation’s wealth, and exposes the formidable politician-industrialists nexus silently prevailing in the corridors of power.
In that sense Kejriwal is really a brave man as it requires a great deal of courage and intense preparation for an ‘ordinary man’ to take on the high and the mighty.
His shocking exposés on politicians and big industrialists might have earned him friends and followers in the country, but he has also courted controversies and himself come under fire.
Kejriwal’s much-hyped TV revelations on big-ticket corruption cases have made the entire political fraternity uncomfortable. He has been labelled as BJP’s B Team and accused of going soft on politician friends. He was also blamed for the bitter split in the IAC’s old chapter and of pursuing a hidden political agenda.
All these allegations may or may not be unfounded or baseless, but they have certainly put Kejriwal’s credibility at stake, especially because he is a rank outsider in the bitter world of politics and needs to tread cautiously.
Not surprisingly though, the man is smarter than it is generally perceived. After he parted ways with his mentor, it was thought that it would be the end of Kejriwal and Co. However, he went ahead with his decision to float a political outfit- a major reason that led to the disintegration of the Anna Hazare-led India Against Corruption.
Kejriwal and his chosen volunteers held a series of meetings to chart out future course of action, a roadmap for taking the anti-graft movement forward. He proved his detractors wrong that he was nothing minus Anna Hazare and continues to hog limelight without Anna on his side.
The IAC office at the Delhi- Ghaziabad border has been abuzz with activity and the number of visitors seeking an appointment with Kejriwal – now perceived to be championing the causes of aam admi- is increasing manifold.
Kejriwal has been allocating his precious time and resources very carefully and developed links, both at macro and micro levels, in the government and non-government sector to collect information.
Owing to his roots as an RTI activist, he got access to numerous hard-hitting documents against influential people and they are now being targeted by him one after another. He is also aided by thousands of ordinary citizens, who visit him in anticipation that they will get help, against government officers, bureaucrats, local leaders and ministers.
Kejriwal is clearly aware of the power that media wields and how it works. So he highlights only one issue at a time, as part of his strategy to ensure maximum spotlight on the issue raised by him. The results thus far have been impressive. After his attack on Robert Vadra, the spotlight remained on Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law for quite some time.
In Kejriwal’s context few questions are bound to crisscross one’s mind - Will he gain anything? Will he succeed in changing the rotten system? Is he really serious about raising the issues concerning the common man?
Is there really any steam in his allegations against those targeted by him? Will Kejriwal-as a politician- get votes? Can he spoil the chances of the Congress and the BJP in the upcoming Assembly elections? Will he dent the vote share of the two parties? Does he have an ulterior motive? Is he power hungry? And, finally, is he on the right track?
Kejriwal knows that too much dependence on the social media or caste calculations will not help his cause, so he needs to prepare a long-term goal. He should look for real issues concerning the ‘aam admi’ and must exercise some restraint while targeting others. He has to channelize support, which he is receiving from all corners of the country, to be able to leave an indelible impression on the Indian polity.
The issues which he is raising are not new and have been in the public domain for quite some time. What he has done is to shake common Indians out of self-induced hibernation by adding fuel to people’s anger against the corrupt system. However, the mere wearing of a Gandhi topi with “main aam aadmi hoon” scribbled across or his exposes will not help the common man’s cause, which he claims to be championing. He has to stand by them and deliver. The aam admi might have been patient with the netas but may not give a long rope to revolutionaries like him.