Arvind Kejriwal is brashly running a smart campaign. Does that sound like an oxymoron? Maybe, but vox pop has to be aired in the language the people speak.
There’s nothing new about the questions the Aam Aadmi Party leader is asking Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. They’ve been the Left’s catch-slogans against ‘crony capitalism’, which the mainstream media dismissed as dogmatic and out of tune with the times.
The AAP’s arrival on the scene has redrawn the lines of public discourse. The chord the fledgling outfit has come to strike with the common man — from whom it takes its name — is the outcome of mainline parties’ growing disconnect with the people. At the root of it all is their disregard of the widespread anger against a disempowering system attuned to serve the socio-politico elite.
The first signs of it surfaced in 2004 with the BJP’s bombed ‘India Shining’ campaign from which the Congress gained power. Concomitantly, in his very first speech from the Red Fort, Manmohan Singh spoke of reforms with a human face and the need to tone up the delivery system.
Ten years down the line, his party suffers from his failure to apply that wisdom on the ground. The funds the UPA ploughed to the social sector fetched people a share in the benefits of first generation economic reforms. The coalition reaped its benefits in the 2009 polls.
But at the fag end of its second term, that storehouse of goodwill and inclusivity seems emptied by rodents of corruption and mal-governance.
So, while the BJP mascot dwelt on the ABCD of the Congress’s corruption in Punjab, Kejriwal hoisted his M3 plank against Modi, Mukesh (Ambani) and the media in neighbouring Haryana.
He did not spare Rahul or the Congress, probing it as much about the ‘quid pro quo’ between big parties and big business to the detriment of the aam aadmi. But he went for Modi with greater force: “How can a tea-seller have so many helicopters? Up to `50 crore are spent on his rallies. Who funds them?”
Searching questions these. Kejriwal finds expedient to raise them—without much focus on the Gujarat CM’s conduct in the 2002 riots that’s a running theme in Rahul’s speeches — in his quest for issues on which public opinion is one.
Corruption has no religion, caste or creed except greed! It’s a class battle in which people love seeing the rich and the powerful being collared without courtesy. That exactly is the USP of Kejriwal.