Does AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal remind you of someone from long ago and far away? If you answer VP Singh, you are spot on. There is the same hysteria about corruption, a sanctimonious, superior approach, an irrational anger against all sorts of people, especially those perceived to be privileged and rich. Never mind, that Singh was royalty himself. In recent times, much to my disappointment, Kejriwal, who had promised us a different brand of relevant politics, has shown that, like Singh, he is simply recycling old whines in new bottles.
He now considers anyone in power fair game. At a recent rally, he raved about how Reliance chief Mukesh Ambani is running the government and how everyone from the Congress to the BJP is in his pocket. He went on and on about some Swiss bank account numbers allegedly belonging to Ambani that he has in his possession. Ambani has categorically denied this. Now many may think it is fair game to bash Ambani, but what I want to ask is whether Kejriwal has any proof to back him up. If indeed he has the bank account numbers, he should go to the appropriate authorities instead of making allegations in public.
If Kejriwal had been in the United States and made this charge against, say, billionaire businessman Warren Buffett, chances are that he would be behind bars for slander. Let me cast your mind back to an earlier time. VP Singh, after peeling off from Rajiv Gandhi, would routinely pull out a slip of paper from his kurta pocket at public rallies. It contained, he would tell the audience conspiratorially, the Swiss bank account number of Rajiv Gandhi. This led to the ghastly slogan, ‘gali, gali mein shor hai, Rajiv Gandhi chor hai’. Singh went blue in the face alleging that Gandhi had nicked the Bofors gun kickbacks. Today, almost 23 years after Gandhi met a gruesome end in Sriperumbudur, there is no evidence of either the bank account or the kickbacks. But Gandhi was slandered by Singh, who could prove nothing and had little but vitriol to offer us.
It is not news that there is a nexus between some corporates and some politicians. If Kejriwal has evidence of such collusion, he should make it public and not make unsubstantiated charges aimed at giving the audience cheap thrills. There is nothing the masses like more than the prospect that an industrialist has amassed his fortune through illegal means or through unsavoury political connections. But, no one should be vilified because Kejriwal does not like his face. If Kejriwal has a blueprint to break the unholy corporate-political nexus, let him tell us about it. I suspect that he may be a canny politician but he is bit short on ideas. What better way to get the crowds worked up than to suggest that Ambani is somehow responsible for all their woes!
Let us look at dear old Kejriwal’s record in Delhi. He provided free water and subsidised electricity. But beyond sleeping on the pavement, protecting rampaging law minister Somnath Bharti, supporting khap panchayats and attacking the lieutenant governor, he really has little to show for his time in office. Why does he not be honest for a change? Admit that Delhi was just a dry run for the bigger game, that of the Lok Sabha elections.
I think Kejriwal never really had any intention of bringing about a drastic change in governance in Delhi. He wanted to capture the spotlight with his antics to gain national recognition in order to pitch for the general elections. Which is fine, but, to further your ends by heaping calumny on other political parties and on industrialists without a shred of proof is not playing by the rules. What India needs is not leaders who seek to undermine corporate barons. Yes, such barons must play by the rules and if they don’t, there are enough mechanisms to keep them in check. But throwing challenges to everyone gets more eyeballs than following the due process of law. I wonder why Kejriwal, who has been breathing fire and brimstone about the evils of corporates, suddenly told us that he was not against capitalism but crony capitalism. This really is a no-brainer. I cannot think of a single politician who will say he or she is in favour of crony capitalism. How are you so different then, dear Arvind?
There is a very famous film made by the great Adoor Gopalakrishanan called Elipathayam (The Rat Trap). In it a revered leader returns to his village. He sleeps while the faithful wait and wait and wait for him to speak to them, to impart his wisdom to them. He never does. I am beginning to wonder if Kejriwal really has something to tell us beyond lashing out at people. Does he have a vision for employment generation, skill development, education, health? Come on, an IIT alumnus should not fall short on ideas. I had really hoped that AAP would bring with it an end to the politics of negativism. But instead we are getting it in spades. While we are waiting for Kejriwal to reveal the much-touted bank account numbers, I can’t help but wonder if he is just doing a number on us.