The shortcut to superstardom in the popular imagination does not lie in holding one’s tongue. Arvind Kejriwal, the self-righteous (and some would say self-appointed) minder of the nation’s morals, is well aware of that. As a civil society activist, it is his articulation of the common man’s rage against siphoning off public funds for dubious uses that have made him the mainstay of Anna Hazare’s campaign. Unfortunately, what can well be justified as means, within the ambit of democratic norms, have now become an end in itself. Mr Kejriwal, it seems, now feels obliged to cry foul against every public figure with little thought to the implications of his hurried statements.
As the latest salvo in his mass cleansing agenda, and in the run-up to the proposed indefinite fast of India Against Corruption from July 25, Mr Kejriwal was in Jodhpur. While there, he demanded that Pranab Mukherjee, the Congress’s presidential nominee, must be thoroughly probed regarding graft allegations pertaining to a 2007 Ghana rice export scam and the Scorpene submarine deal. Mr Kejriwal apparently feared that once elected to the august office, Mr Mukherjee would enjoy immunity from any proceedings. Hence, his preemptive prescription. He also continued to demand probes against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and 15 of his Cabinet colleagues on charges of corruption.
There is no disputing the fact that holders of public office should uphold the highest standards of conduct and be generally taint-free. Mr Kejriwal, unfortunately, does not seem to apply the same exacting standards of morality when it comes to the amorphous agglomeration that is generally known as Team Anna. Allegations of financial wrongdoing directed at members of that group have either been glossed over or made light of. The messianic role that Mr Kejriwal has assigned himself, along with the media attention that every utterance by him seems to command, has convinced him that all we need to point an accusatory finger to keep all public figures on their toes. Ensuring accountability and transparency is a far more serious and complicated manoeuvre, but then Mr Kejriwal can hardly be expected to think so.