Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The muffler man has the last laugh

When a national TV channel flashed 67-3, I, for a moment, thought that it was the customary Pakistani score card in a ODI cricket match.  On reconciling with the electoral reading of the Delhi election results, Arvind Kejriwal was declared as the man-of-the-match, who showed in no unequivocal terms that he can sweep and reverse-sweep.  The Delhi verdict clarified that there were few contenders, most of them  comprehensively swept under the rug. The Congress party scored a golden ‘duck’ and the paltry three seats confirmed the BJP humiliation complete.

The common man was taken casually for someone who wears muffler to fight cold and cough. But here is some one who showed he can fight the mighty and the corrupt, too.  Whether the vote is against Modi or Bedi, the clear winner is Arvind Kejriwal, the muffler man had the last laugh. If 1977 were Janata-wave, 1984 Rajiv Gandhi-wave, the 1989 V P Singh-wave, 2015 can be named a “Kejriwal-wave”, partly denting the 2014 modi-wave.  Sniffing that the Bedi-factor may not work, the BJP drafted the entire central leadership for the campaign. The phenomenal political event may well have major consequences for the national domain, as the 67-3 score-card applied the brakes on what looked like an unstoppable pan-India ride to power.  Rarely has there been an occasion in Indian politics when a party scripted such a massive victory, reminding the AIADMK-Congress alliance winning 225/234 seats in 1991.

While this victory is AAP’s defining moment for the future, the 46-year old IITian showed that agenda can outsmart propaganda and desisted from indulging in counter-smear campaign.  Calling him “urban naxalite”, bhagoda (runaway, escapist) and more, never behoved a Prime Minister to get down to name-calling.  When Mani Shankar Aiyar derided the chaiwallah, the PM was backed, but the latter did not replicate the courtesy. A few more vitrolics, AAP would, probably, have scored a centum – 70/70.  The recent attacks on the churches had its share in affecting the BJP’s poll prospects, the muslim-vote seems shifted in AAP’s favour.  Mind you, it is not a photo-finish, but a landslide victory.

Wake-up call

No state election is referendum of central government.  Good or bad central government affects state election results, not vice-versa.  But ensure that it doesn’t become one, as we all know only too well it doesn’t take long for a spark to become an inferno. BJP, nevertheless, exposed its vulnerability in a direct contest. In 2013-14, the Congress party was left bewildered by the AAP which came from nowhere to steal its thunder.  Arvind Kejriwal deserves standing ovation for his dare-devilry in making substantive inroads into the national parties, one after the other.  Though AAP did not win a single seat in Delhi in the Lok Sabha election, Kejriwal remained steadfast to his ground.

The voting pattern showed that it was a mass exodus from Congress to AAP.  Usually a vote lost from Congress goes to BJP.  But this time, it went to AAP, and in a big way. The electorate reckoned that a Congress vote is a wasted vote. Apart from maintaining positive posture, AAP also had the grace to seek apology from the electorate for its earlier missteps. The ‘broom’ swept clean and revived the sinking ship, the democracy, exhibiting the presence of a much-needed opposition.
Modi should take the onus for the Delhi debacle, else there is little to distinguish him from the dynastic ‘Gandhis’.  BJP’s enormous resource base had to give way for the ‘common man’, happily showing democracy is not dead, yet.  Thousands of people including students, lawyers, retired professionals, college professors and housewives see AAP a new phenomenon which renewed their faith for a better future of the common man.  The story of AAP, in fact, is not just its story, but a story of the people, reinventing politics and themselves.

AAP must move beyond fighting corruption.  It is vital for Kejriwal to have a strong cadre before taking policies to the masses. Having said that, running a political party and maintaining a vibrant cadre is tough especially  in national scenario and we have many examples where many parties failed to maintain their establishments and shut their shops after one or two general elections.  Praja Rajyam Party in Andhra Pradesh started by the matinee-idol Chiranjeevi failed to reach its expectations, so is Uma Bharathi’s Bharatiya Jan Shakthi Party.  Former IAS Officer and often considered to be an intellectual bureaucrat Jaya Prakash Narayan’s Lok Satta too could not move into the masses.  These cases show that the vote bank and election foray in India is altogether a different and a difficult game that a person like Arvind Kejriwal needs to tackle with.

The common man’s life has been miserable by the unabated price rise. FMs,  Planning Commission officials and advisory councils have been ad nauseum assuring that the prices will go down, while the common man remains in dark.  If Kejriwal makes even a small difference to the popular perception of politics, he will have done a lot.  And Kejriwal will surely experience for himself the challenge of practising politics without its attendant ills.  People of  Delhi have sent a strong message to the politicians and political parties how they should behave.

If political honesty is oxymoron, Mr. Kejriwal, the mandate has bestowed you a chance to dispute it.


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