When Arvind Kejriwal parted ways with Anna Hazare, there were many who said that he would now be a spent force. When he announced that he would jump into politics and launch a party of his own, the sniggers only got louder.
But with the way his press conferences are being covered by the media off late, he must be having the last laugh. Within no time, Kejriwal has changed the rules of the game. He is leading and the entire media is following.
First he took inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi and launched a civil disobedience of his own kind by taking up the issue of high electricity bills in New Delhi. He burnt bills and restored connections of the common man.
The media lapped it up, the BJP felt that the wind had been taken out of their sails and Congress Chief Minister Sheila Dixit looked flustered and made one statement after the other.
Sonia Gandhi became Congress President in 1998 and for the last 14 odd years, everyone has treated the dealings of her family with kid gloves. The NDA refused to touch Bofors. Subramanian Swamy’s allegations against her were avoided like the plague. The Economic Times did a story on Robert Vadra and quietly moved on, unnoticed.
The only attack on Sonia had been her foreign origin issue which has nothing to do with corruption or competence and was bound to back-fire big time as it eventually did.
But in 2012 came the biggest ever attack on the dynasty and Kejriwal took the Vadra-DLF nexus head-on. The media, which had been enforcing silence for years now, was forced to give it coverage 24X7.
That achieved two things. For one it exposed the politician-land-corporate nexus. What if one added the value of all the land given by politicians on a fast-track basis to corporates? Then the value of that “Landgate” scam could well cross the Rs 1.86 lakh crore figure of Coalgate.
The second thing was that he shattered the unwritten code between political parties of not attacking the families of rival politicians. That helps the families of politicians amass wealth at a colossal rate.
How effective that has been was seen when former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala immediately accused Rahul Gandhi of tax evasion in a land deal. Suddenly nothing is sacred any more.
Kejriwal’s attack on Law Minister Salman Khurshid seems to have totally unnerved the latter. First in his press conference Khurshid thundered, bellowed and looked like he would explode any minute. He went red in the face shouting threats at the gathered journalists.
In an interview Khurshid threatened that India Today would become India Yesterday and later egged on by his party workers said that he would replace ink with blood. He also implied that if Kejriwal visited his home constituency Farrukhabad, then how would he go back?
This is not the sign of overconfidence, but of politicians getting scared and running for cover. Kejriwal has announced that he and his many supporters will take up the Khurshid issue at Farrukhabad on November 1. It is far from over.
Many felt that his Nitin Gadkari revelations were a damp squib. But it is far from that. This is another issue that he has touched upon. Too many politicians are becoming businessmen and growing their empires at break-neck speeds with help from all other parties. Why do all political parties help each other over this?
Kejriwal has set the debate rolling and it will not end here.
Suddenly Kejriwal’s new party seems a bigger threat than ever. Even if he begins small, it is enough. Many parties take years and decades to come to power. One has to admire the guts of a simple middle class man who has such huge political ambitions and so far seems to be going on the right track.
Most of the audiences who watched the movie Yuva cheered when the heroes won four Vidhaan Sabha seats at the end of the movie. What are four seats? They cannot change the entire political landscape overnight. But they can start bringing about a big change slowly and steadily.
That’s the case with Kejriwal. Even if he wins one Lok Sabha seat for himself, he can enter Parliament and start changing Indian politics on a small scale. If he wins 2-4 seats, that will be a big first step.
The problem is that agitations and fasts have a limited scope and that was thoroughly exposed when the August Kranti agitation could not pass the Lokpal Bill. Taking the political path has a much longer shelf life.
Besides, Kejriwal has age on his side.
He is just 44 and has already accomplished a lot of things.
He has been part of a very successful RTI campaign; he’s won the Magsaysay Award; he’s masterminded Independent India’s biggest anti-corruption campaign and right now he’s setting the agenda for the entire nation’s media. He’s put the Congress and BJP on the same platform and has the audacity to call himself the Opposition.
Rahul Gandhi is in the same age group as Kejriwal and has access to much greater power and tools and yet has not achieved even a fraction of Kejriwal’s
If anything, Kejriwal definitely has the right to dream and the right to dream big!