‘O young Lochinvar is come out of the West/And through all the wide border his steed was the best/ And save his good broadsword, he weapons had none/He rode all unarmed and he rode all alone.’ These lines from Sir Walter Scott’s famous poem Lochinvar (broadly translated as suitor) could well apply to our desi political Lochinvar Arvind Kejriwal. For it was without any of the usual political weapon, that he pulled off such a magnificent win. It was a victory which literally blindsided the opponents, not to mention the many expert commentators.
But, now that the euphoria is slowly fading, people must be asking themselves, what did we sign up for? Why is Kejriwal, who came riding on his steed, felling mighty oaks along the way not putting together a government? It was a mandate for change, and it was very much a mandate for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). But now it seems the AAP wants the people’s mandate all over again, via a sort of referendum on whether it should form a government at all.
Politics, dear Arvind Kejriwal, is all about give and take. Nothing shady or improper in that. But here we see a new kind of politics, Kejriwal style called when ‘in doubt ask the people’. So, he now wants the people to tell him whether or not he should form a government. This gives me the heebie jeebies. When and if he becomes the chief minister, and, say, he wants to inaugurate a sabzi mandi, will he send out mailers to people asking for their opinion? Maybe those who don’t like their greens will say no. If, say, a flyover was to be built in your vicinity, take heart, you can say no and stop Kejriwal in his tracks. He has already told us that the Tatas and Ambanis can take a hike and that the Delhi government can provide electricity to people. Ah, so the government will also get into conjuring up water and employee volunteers to lay roads and dig ditches.
Which brings me to wonder whether we need Kejriwal at all. If we the people are to take all the decisions, then we can all be republics of one, to quote Arundhati Roy. We don’t need any representative telling us what to do. If I want a sushi stall in every mohalla, by the Lord, I will have it with or without Kejriwal . But seriously, I have never heard of a more half-baked idea of governance. The people have given you a mandate Mr Kejriwal, now get on with it. Or move aside and let someone else do the job.
It is not always that the deserving party gets the numbers to rule in splendid isolation. No, there is nothing terribly wrong about taking help without compromises. But the AAP seems far more bothered about scoring points over the so-called sage of Ralegan Siddhi who now feels that the Lokpal which he fretted, fumed, fasted and fulminated over is all right. He feels that the government has got it right and that Rahul Gandhi is his new best friend. No, no, thundered Kejriwal in an alarming show of political pettiness. Anna Hazare has been misinformed. If Hazare is so easily misinformed, why was he the guiding light of the movement in which Kejriwal cut his political teeth?
The point I am making is that instead of squabbling with Hazare, Kejriwal should be exploring all viable options for forming a government and not be jabbering on about this referendum via smses and mails that he plans to hold. He has put forward 18 conditions in the full knowledge that neither the Congress nor the BJP will accept them. While we would like to see our netas leave their Lutyens bungalows and fancy cars, it cannot happen at Kejriwal’s command. Devolving power to the mohallas is the stuff that democracy should be made of but again, it cannot happen overnight. Which is why I ask to know the reason behind Kejriwal asking the Lieutenant Governor for 10 more days to come up with an answer. He has categorically told us that he will have no truck with either of the big two. So where will he get the numbers from? Or will the revenue service officer fell us with an exercise in number crunching the likes of which we have not seen before? I await with bated breath.
It seems clear now that the AAP wants another election. But, there is no gainsaying that another poll will give Kejriwal the numbers he needs. It would be at enormous cost to the taxpayer and will cause the Election Commission added headaches as it grapples with the general elections. If the AAP has chosen to enter the political fray, it cannot remain aloof from the system.
There are several permutations and combinations which can be worked out without sacrificing any principles or holding referendums. I know that Kejriwal has plans to spread his wings. The AAP has already opened over 350 offices across India. The AAP must respect the fact that those offering support have also been elected by the people. So, it is not as though they are usurpers or imposters.
I reckon this holier-than-thou attitude is because the AAP has never been in the political pit before. It has notched up such a huge success in such a short time. Now comes the hard part where Kejriwal can no longer disregard all weapons of politics or indeed ride all alone.