It started out as a latter-day social and political manthan. But instead of a solution emerging after the churning, all we see is more chaos and opacity. The Arvind Kejriwal-political establishment slugfest has intensified, but the battle against corruption has now moved from being the star to an
extra on the sets. When he started off with his India Against Corruption (IAC), Mr Kejriwal elicited so much excitement, and more to the point, so much hope. And to remain credible, he must certainly be seen as not just above board in the company he keeps, but also in abiding by the law. It is no one's case that his supporters cannot protest against the Haryana government's alle-ged complicity in illegal land deals.
But, the sight we saw on Sunday evoked little sympathy for the cause - IAC supporters breached the barricades outside Haryana chief minister BS Hooda's residen-ce, forcing the police to push them back. The footage in the media did not show any undue force by the police, yet some supporters were paraded before the media as having been grievously injured. Surely, if they had been badly hurt, they should have been in hospital and not at a press conference. Of course, the sudden emergence of activists who claimed that they were part of the original Anna Hazare movement against corruption accusing Mr Kejriwal of cho-pping and changing his agenda did not help matters for him. Many might ask Mr Kejriwal for proof, something he is so fond of unear-thing, that he did not, as he claims, know who these activists are.
There is no doubt that the response from those who have been accused of misdemeanours by Kejriwal and his activists has been somewhat confusing. A senior Congress leader's remark that evidence against those in a rival party was not used by the Congress party does suggest some kind of political collusion among parties, if true. But, at the same time, there is no getting away from the serious allegations of dodgy land deals on the part of IAC activists. Mr Kejriwal has loftily assured the public that he has constituted an internal lokpal consisting of three judges, whose credentials, he says, are impeccable to look into the matter. The guilty, he says, will be shown the door. Fine. But would he accept an internal probe by the political parties in question to be conducted by people of their own choosing? Would there not be issues of bias, howsoever impartial the ombudsmen may be?
Mr Kejriwal has done a signal service by raising the issue of endemic corruption. But he does not seem to have the patience to wait for one set of charges to be proved or disproved before coming up with another. This has caused a great deal of confusion, even a sense of weariness that beyond the sound and fury, we will arrive at nothing significant. It would seem that we will need another manthan to clarify the results of the current one.