In his seminal work, in the form of an open letter titled J'accuse (I accuse you), the great French writer Emile Zola took on the president of the day on several charges of misconduct. What we are seeing in India is the verbalised version of this with charges and counter-charges flying thick and
fast between India Against Corruption activist and soon-to-be political leader Arvind Kejriwal and the political establishment. The latest in Mr Kejriwal's crosshairs is BJP president Nitin Gadkari and we are given to understand that more is to come about other politicians. If an outsider were to observe the developments of the last few weeks, he or she could be forgiven for thinking that nothing else matters in India but the corrupt ways of politicians. No doubt, Mr Kejriwal's efforts are a wake-up call to the political class. But it would seem that not everyone in Mr Kejriwal's crew believes in the Biblical dictum that he who is without sin should cast the first stone.
There are allegations of irregularities in land dealings against Prashant Bhushan, one of the leading lights of the Kejriwal juggernaut. And now, it would appear that activist Anjali Damania, who is leading the charge against Mr Gadkari on his alleged usurpation of lands meant for farmers, actually sought to have a particular dam relocated to an area outside her own property. While we admire Mr Kejriwal's zeal in exposing corruption, law minister Salman Khurshid, also a target of Mr Kejriwal's exposes, does have a point when he says that action must be taken against the accusers if the charges are proved false. The current slugfest, which shows no signs of abating, is creating a sense of weariness, even despair, that the many issues which concern people have been pushed onto the backburner. Several laws like the land acquisition bill are moving forward, but we see very little debate on these issues, preoccupied as we are with the theatrics of the accusers and the accused. As the days have gone by, we have seen that tempers are running so high that what should have been a rational discourse on the issue of corruption has taken on Bollywood-like tones with talk of blood and death. This really makes a mockery of a serious issue.
Mr Kejriwal has made several allegations, most of which are yet to be conclusively proved, wearing his activist's hat. If he is to be the head of a political party, he must take things forward. Apart from accusing politicians of corruption - indeed he says that the whole political class functions as a family when it comes to this issue - he must also unveil his vision for a just and corruption-free India. Incidentally, Zola was hauled up for libel and had to flee France. This is not something likely to happen to Kejriwal and co, but raising problems but no solutions really does not make for good politics.