Friday, August 30, 2013

Arvind Kejriwal Enters Do-or-Die Phase

There are only three months left for Delhi elections. Activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal is increasingly staring at a challenging future, as a massive failure in Delhi elections for his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) at the hands of Congress and BJP would finish off not only his fledgling political career but his hitherto robust activist career.

Because, he had risked too much in this high-stakes game against well-entrenched politicians. He even risked his partnerships with the likes of Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi, Santosh Hegde, and major financial backer NR Narayana Murthy, to go the political route.

Now, what if the people of Delhi says, we don’t want you? That they are unlikely to say, but Delhiites can very well say that we like you, but we won’t vote for you, because you are too small.

That is the predicament that perhaps Anna foresaw, and that is precisely the quicksand into which the likes of Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid cunningly lured Kejriwal into.

Secondly, politics always required a ‘stooping too low’ strategy, and Kejriwal had to stoop to that partisan level to play in politics. Like, calling Congress and BJP as “terrorists” and “mafia“, or playing vote-bank politics like his blatant wooing of the Muslim population of Delhi by fuelling their insecure feelings.

However, despite all these drawbacks, the nation needs to stand up and applaud the activist in him, for all that he has already achieved for this nation. Delhiites gets the first and best chance to do it or not.

In the final tally, it is clear that while every activist in India Against Corruption (IAC), including Anna, had full commitment, only Kejriwal was willing to risk everything he had to pursue their dream for a corruption-free society. That too requires a standing ovation.  

His personality won’t come across as much charismatic. But his credentials sure are second to none.

And he knows how to stay relevant. Kejriwal has been quick to welcome Ashok Khemka, IAS, and Durga Shakti Nagpal, IAS to his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

His logic is simple. Khemka and Durga are trying to seek justice from the very people or system that has meted out gross injustice to them. He wants Khemka and Durga to come out of the system to fight the system.

More precisely, his advice for them is to come out of the Executive and enter the Legislature. Because, that is the precise lesson Kejriwal has learned for himself after a uniquely diverse career in civil service and social activism.

Born in Haryana, Kejriwal is a graduate of IIT Kharagpur, where he studied Mechanical Engineering. He gradually came out of civil service into social activism believing that apolitical activism was the ultimate tool for social transformation.

Arvind Kejriwal was formerly with Indian Revenue Service (IRS), resigning as a Joint Commissioner of Income Tax.

Kejriwal had massive initial success as an activist. In fact, he has arguably been India’s most successful social activist, credited together with Aruna Roy, ex-IAS, for getting the momentous Right to Information (RTI) Act implemented.

Kejriwal won the prestigious international prize, Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in 2006 for his contribution to the enactment of the RTI Act and for his efforts to empower the poorest citizens of India. RTI Act, enacted by the first UPA government led by Dr. Manmohan Singh, is credited with bettering accountability across diverse spheres of governance.

But then, Arvind Kejriwal turned too ‘ambitious‘.

He resigned formally from IRS, and started to focus on something bigger. Realizing that he lacked the appeal of a senior mass leader, he teamed up with noted senior social activist from Maharashtra, Anna Hazare, to launch India Against Corruption (IAC) movement that caught the fancy of urban middleclass in India like no other.

Kejriwal’s first objective for IAC - Jan Lokpal Bill - proved too much of an objective, finally resulting in IAC splitting into two and Hazare and Kejriwal parting ways. The bone of contention was whether to retain IAC as apolitical, or change it into a political movement, with Hazare favouring the former strategy.

Kejriwal however felt that activism didn’t have enough teeth left and formed the Aam Aadmi Party to fight mainstream parties like Congress and BJP. The move resulted in Kejriwal losing several key supporters like Kiran Bedi and Santosh Hegde, as well as secret donators like Infosys Co-founder NR Narayana Murthy.

However, many strong allies remained, notably ace lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

Kejriwal has also proved that even without Hazare he can be a mass leader, the best example being he courageously taking up Salman Khurshid’s challenge to visit Farrukhabad, where he ended up addressing a massive turnout of farmers and villagers.

It is highly unlikely that the original Jan Lokpal Bill drawn up by Kejriwal and Hazare would ever end up as a law in India. It has been heavily criticised for being draconian in nature by activists of similar stature like Aruna Roy and Arundhati Roy.

He has also started displaying prejudiced political tactics like his too much aggression towards Sheila Dikshit, Delhi CM who is completing three successive full-terms now, against whom he will be standing in election.

Though he can be faulted for his recent Muslim wooing, he is also playing some moves quite right, like his attempt to visit colleges and mobilize the youth. For instance, in Delhi’s St. Stephen’s College, he could address a good crowd of students, from whom 61 Stephanians instantly joined as Aam Aadmi Party volunteers.

Because, Arvind Kejriwal’s do-or-die test will indeed be the upcoming Delhi elections. Even if he ends up making a small dent to conventional parties, that will be the next feather in the cap for this crusader who has proved what a former civil servant can achieve for the nation.


  1. About the Janlokpal bill, its not logical to conclude that its 'draconian' just because someone else said it. It should be discussed and debated, which it has already gone through and proved to be a law which we need! And which is NOT draconian.

    And what do you mean by the statement that he fuelled the insecurities of the Muslims? Justify that stand...
    About Shiela Dikshit, you said that he has displayed too much aggression... Well I don't know why are you satisfied with her government, but certainly I'm not. Her entire rule can be summarized in 2 words : Corruption and Crime.

  2. Jan Lokpal Bill has been widely debated. The Govt. couldn't really free the 'CBI' from it's clutches.

  3. Some people have problem with everything and anything that AK does...Too bad, shows how, even journalists can be bought by powerful politicians, who are hell bent to discredit Arvind Kejriwal. But people, today know how corrupt media has become, so no matter how hard you try, you cannot stop the righteous thinking common man on the streets.. Try try and think about yourself. Are you discrediting yourself ? Well before you do so, listen to your inner self, if you still have one, if you do come to the other side of the fence

  4. You are so shamelessly biased in your article. The whole parliament unanimously makes a promise to the nation on Lokpal & goes back on his word. Here is a man, who has taken on the establishment single handedly, braving innumerable problems. We salute him & you refer him as - turning too ambitious. Do you have then guts to write about the thuggery of the ruling party.

    Don't try. It is too risky. Keep running down, great personalities like Arvind. Iyer

  5. What a joke of an article--who made the author a journalist?? same folks who are looting the country dry...

  6. what u called wooing is adrressing concerns of he did in case of 1984 riot victims.he has risked everything he had ..even offered cmship of delhi for kiran bedi.all questions towards arvind bt not a single towards bedi,vksingh who r batting both for anna and bjp at the same time.

  7. Please read 'Swaraj' written by Arvind Kejriwal to get an understanding of what AAP is fighting the elections for. Anna Hazare himself has written the foreword proclaiming it to be the manifesto of anti-corruption movement.

    AAP is fighting elections not because it is 'power' hungry. AAP is fighting the elections because AAP wants to give 'power' back to the people. That is true democracy. Though India is a democracy, where is people participating in decision making? People make an appearance to only cast the vote, and thereafter the very own representatives that have been elected by the people 'loot' the treasuries and take the 'loot' to their respective homes.

    You need not have a doctorate to guess that the 'wealth' the majority of the politicians flaunt around is ill gotten.

    The Jan Lokpal would have been the way to question them about their ill gotten wealth. Now, will these very people who have amassed tons of ill gotten wealth over the years, hand over the rod to the people to be spanked?

    AAP is the only way the Jan Lokpal can see the daylight.

  8. Do'nt listen to this writer as he is nothing but a Agent of Congress or BJP.Shame on You! I am a common MAN who work 9 hrs a day and I will Vote for AAP and I will definitly incourage my friends.Agents like you can not stop us.



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