31 December, 2013

Yet Another Article on Arvind Kejriwal

I know the internet is clogged with innumerable articles about Arvind Kejriwal and in the world of commercial blogging, this is not the best time to write about the man who achieved the impossible. Yet it is one of the perils of being a writer that the pen governs you and not the other way round. So without further ado, here’s Yet Another Article on the man on a mission, Arvind Kejriwal.

Who the hell is Arvind Kejriwal?

Born in Siwani, Haryana in 1968 to an aam couple with an aam family, Arvind had bearings of “aam”hood since his schooldays in Campus School, Hisar. The first big achievement came when he secured admission into IIT Kharagpur. Being an alumnus of the same institute myself, I know that the last words one hears in the campus are usually go like, “till now this campus has been your identity. When you go out of that gate, make sure you become the identity of this campus.” Little did anyone know that Arvind would take these words to heart.

He graduated in Mechanical Engineering in 1989 and got placed in Tata Steel. I can’t be sure about those days but in 2013 Tata Steel paid fresh IIT graduates 8-9 lakhs per annum plus perks as CTC. He left the job after 2 years in 1992 to study for the Civil Services Examination and spend time at the Ramakrishna mission, Kolkata.

Arvind was able to join the IRS in 1995. In 2000, he was allowed 2 years’ paid leave on the condition that upon resuming work he could not resign from the service for atleast 3 years. Failure to abide by that condition would require him to repay the salary given during the leave period. He rejoined in 2003 and worked for 18 months before taking an unpaid leave for another 18 months. In February 2006, he resigned from the post of Joint Commissioner, Income Tax, New Delhi. The Government of India claimed that Arvind violated his original agreement by not working for 3 years. Arvind claimed that the clause said that he could not resign from his post for 3 years, which he did not. Eventually in 2011, he had to pay his way out by taking loans from friends.

Over the course of time, he has been known to be involved in numerous social ativist movements. A few prominent ones are listed below

·         December 1999: Parivartan

·         December 2006: Right to Information

·         April 2011: Jan Lokpal

What the phuck does he want?

Honestly speaking, I do not understand what Arvind wants. I believe in power. Power fights, power endures, power wins and power rules. I never expected an aam aadmi to fight, much less win, an election in the heart of the nation.

Time and again, Arvind has surprised us. Initially, he was just another social working fasting and agitating. Such people made the news for 2 days. A week, if lucky. I remember an interview before all the political activity where he was asked that if he was so much concerned about the nation, why doesn’t he contest the elections? To that Arvind beautifully (and to my surprise, calmly) replied,

“Do we live in a nation where if an ordinary citizen demands a right, he’d first have to contest the elections? As a citizen, it is my constitutional right to make a demand from the government. And to be told that I can only be allowed such demands if I run for the elections is against the Constitution of India.”

Yet, when after 2 fasts lasting 13 and 15 days, there was no response from the Government, Arvind decided to enter the system to clean it. This was much to the apprehension of his mentor Anna Hazare who maintains that politics is a swamp which contaminates anything which enters it. Arvind said that it may be the case, but the only way to clean this swamp was to enter it, even if it be at the cost of his own reputation. With those words, the 2 parted ways and while the media left Anna into his own oblivion, Arvind came out on Twitter and Youtube depending on social network “like”s, “share”s and “+1”s to make and grow his own political party.

Political Party! Aah… That was his plan all along. The power hungry rascal

Okay. As soon as one hears the words politics, the mind is filled with images of scams, ghotala, money, power and rabdi. But let’s look deeper. Arvind can be either one of 2 men.

1.      Either, he can be someone who left the post of a Commissioner of the Income Tax Department in a state like New Delhi, agitated and protested for 2 years, fasted in a condition of diabetes twice, brought RTI (which even a gentleman with questionable nationality status appreciated) and is currently working day and night in fever in Delhi winters to give the citizens basic amenities like water and electricity. Someone for whom getting into the system as an IRS officer wasn’t enough and decided to hit the mark himself fighting from the constituency which (let’s be honest here) was the toughest to win.

2.      Or he can be a master schemer who planned his entry into politics after joining the IRS. Identified Anna Hazare as the activist who would bring him into limelight. Somehow managed to get the public’s attention after being neglected by mass media and is currently looking to secure a position in the heart of the country.

To those who believe him to be the 2nd man, I have nothing more to offer. You may choose to keep reading to criticize me later.

There was a time when the Delhi election results of 2013 were being counted where AAP had a significant lead over INC but Arvind was lagging behind the then Chief Minister by a margin of 2,000. Then a journalist asked Arvind what would it mean for his political career if AAP wins but Arvind loses. Arvind gave a reply which I feel deserves to be mentioned here.

“I did not join politics to make a career. Career was something I left in 1992.”

Alright… But what now?

Right now 4 major challenges for Arvind stand.

1. People’s Expectations

Like it or not, but we live in a country where people are just waiting to say, see I told you. He was only a 4 day story. So who else was raped today?”

Most people today are only looking to point a finger and laugh when something goes bad. Specially to the one who tries to stand out. Yet one of the hazards of trying to fix something broken is to stand out and be pointed at. By standing out and already making a change in such a short span of time, Arvind has exposed himself to people’s expectations like never before. And this was established by the long line of activists from different sections of society making a variety of demands infront of his house on the morning of December 30th, 2013.

There are those who are just waiting for him to fail. Specially those who have long supported the voices of the 2 major political parties of India. At the first mistake he makes people will burn his posters (and him if given a chance) down. The weight of expectations runs heavy on Arvind. The question remains, how long before people realize that they have chosen a common man as their representative. Not God.

2. Life

Mahatama Gandhi. Vidya Lal Shukla. Rajiv Gandhi. Mahendra Karma. All these names have a common feature. They stood up for something. They exposed themselves. They were killed.

India not a safe place. Filmstars get their clothes torn, cricketers have their homes attacked, politicians are killed and murderers are preserved. In these circumstances, one thinks how many days will Arvind be able to go between the public, use public transportation, hold open meetings and give speeches before being shot.

In India, every party has a face. It’s not the party people vote to. They vote for their trust in the face. Every party promotes the face which they think is popular among the people and usually that face gets the seat and the votes. While this works in favor of 2 parties, ironically lately the face-concept of voting has led to troubles for the 3rd party. But the bottom-line remains, that parties function on faces. Right now, people have their faith in a face. Arvind. The moment he is disappears in ashes, I don’t know how long it would take before AAP meets the same fate. Or, it may rise from the ashes like a Phoenix with yet another miracle. But I don’t put hope in miracles. Nor does India.

3. Fatigue

It’s been 2 days since Arvind held office and has already caught a 102° fever and diarrhea. With the kind of promises he has to live up to, his undivided attention and focus is needed. He has already worked a Sunday, met all his meetings with punctuality and is already delivering results. It’s like watching Nayak on Star News instead of Star Movies. But reality is no movie. One has to cope with one’s health which works on not only the physical level, but also on the mental level. Arvind might have been a part of IIT’s Illumination which taught him to work everyday with no regard to his physical health. But it does not mean that this continuous work won’t take a toll on his mental health. Since the day he has announced the formation of AAP, he has not rested a single day. The question is, how long before his brain simply gives up?

4. 2014 Lok Sabha Elections

AAP has already announced that they will be contesting the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. While this is a welcome move by many it raises a lot of problems.

Till now, people had their hearts set on either one of the two conventional parties in India. Of them, one even promised to take India forward with industrialization and strong economic policies. And this seemed to be a good model. But now a new model has come up. A model of the common man. While this new model has little to say on economic and industrial reforms, it promises a better social life and common welfare. And David is about to collide with Goliath. This leaves the voter confused. To vote for the one who will allow India to compete with giants like America, China and Europe? Or to vote for the one who promises to keep our daughters safe. And while this tussle continues, a snake lurks in the dark. Waiting to strike. Patiently. Calmly. Shrewdly.