Arvind Kejriwal - The New Kid on the Block

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Golda Meir, the Iron lady of Israel once quoted "I must govern the clock, not be governed by it”.

It was just two years ago when Delhi the city of political-cum-media mainstream got trembled by the millions footfall of common men and women around Anna Hazare from Jantar-Mantar to Ramlila Maidan to Tihar premises. That completely apolitical mass movement drew unprecedented attention and kept the incumbents on toes for weeks.

The incarnation of Arvind Kejriwal was the most political output of that completely apolitical yajna known as anti-corruption campaign or Jan Lokpal movement. And in such a short period he established himself as the most serious contender for the Prime Minister's post.

History reiterates that Delhi has been loyal either to the Congress or to the BJP. Though it has been shunning regional parties, mocking regional leaders and making it clear through the ballot that no one outside the two ‘favorites' could hope to get its vote, it is actually looking for an alternative.

For the first time Delhi seems to agree with and attentive too towards a third political party as a serious contender. The swift penetration of Arvind Kejriwal led AAP (Aam Admi Party) in Delhi has shocked the veterans. As the forthcoming Delhi Assembly polls are due within 2 weeks, the best experienced political pundits are perplexed as such show was never witnessed in Indian political plank.

AAP, with seemingly maverick leaders like Arvind Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav, and Prashant Bhushan, have worked out some kind of an electoral mantra that is drawing all sections of the society. The buzz is reflected in the early pre-election opinion polls where the fight seems to be narrowing between the BJP and the Aam Aadmi, advantage the latter.

Anna Hazare became a leader likely to what pre-independence leaders stand. He drew public respect and attention. The arrogant and perversive Center made the initial enthusiasm of Anna seem vanished. Moreover, he was confused by Santosh Bhartiya and Gen. V. K. Singh. Later, the Center rejected his fast tactics altogether as it felt the crusader was losing its public support.

Kejriwal, who was continually challenged by the Congress and then from its own camp for being arrogant, understood the situation well. He murmured on occasions that Anna was mind-washed and got encircled by selfish people. Simultaneously, the first line of leadership in Congress challenged the IAC (India against Corruption) campaigner to be part of the system if they wished to change the system. Later the central government rein in the media by threatening them to blackout under various laws for instigation. This took the zeal out of the movement.

Witnessing the widening gap of trust between Anna and him, Kejriwal finds it impossible to achieve the goal. And with no assets and political experience, Kejriwal decided to part way with just a handful of friends. He decided to take on the political bigwigs politically. He formed AAP and announced Delhi assembly polls that would be its first litmus-test.

No one took him seriously then and even the media ignored him. But despite the media derision, Kejriwal and his friends set about infusing new depth to what had been essentially a movement against corruption.

A new impetus was given to the party with its 'bijli-paani' stir. Indian bureaucracy that forms a sizeable section of the electorate in Delhi was aghast to find Kejriwal tearing up electricity bills and sprang up to the electric pole restoring electricity connections to the households which were disconnected for non-payment of bills. This picture of him proved volatile and he touched the public, political and media sentiments in one phase. All news cameras turned to him and he became the national headline after months of obscurity.
This 'bijli-paani' campaign yielded almost immediate results and the first word that there was perhaps a new party emerging came from the slums where the dwellers seemed to embrace the Aam Aadmi party symbol, the jharu (broom).

Still the upper middle class and both political axis of Delhi laughed at him seeing on the pole. The Jharu party was forced to eat its derision, and accept the fact that the symbol had a resonance quite beyond its comprehension.

Initially the Congress maintained that Aam Aadmi was cutting into its votes, as did the BJP. But it is clear that the new party is cutting into the vote banks of both the powerful political entities.

Voters' mind can never be known until the votes are counted. All before that remains in the realm of speculation with bubbles bursting with sufficient force surface at intervals. Hence, it is to fool the people to predict the outcome at this stage but one thing that is quite clear is that AAP has presented the biggest ever challenge to the hegemony of the BJP and the Congress in more ways than one.

amit sinhaAmit K. Sinha is a bilingual investigative journalist who works independently. For the last couple of years he is in Patna writing for many prints and portals.


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