AK quits: strategy for LS polls or post-failure surrender?

Kejriwal can only hope that his intelligence and his advisors have got the right focus on the national bid.

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Bikram Vohra | February 15, 2014




It took Alice in Wonderland longer to slide down the slippery slope than it did the aam aadmi saviour to come a cropper in his own homemade version of Blunderland. The iconic sweater unravelled into a grimy knotted ball of wool.

A series of hiccups that swiftly ballooned into gaffes of the worst kind have led to the end of a 49 day tilting at windmills, real and imagined.

Arvind Kejriwal has quit his job as chief minister of Delhi, ostensibly because the Lokpal bill did not pass the Assembly floor. But the more sinister implication is that the freshly-coined broom-wielding champion of the masses, bitten by the bugs of power has swollen his ego to the point where being a mere chief minister of Delhi is small potatoes. This populist move to quit made against the din of chaos in the assembly is designed more to create a hi-octane national energy and catapult him onto the national stage and set him up as a candidate against the Congress nominee (unknown) and the BJP candidate Narendra Modi.

Next stop: the Prime Ministerial seat.

What better-sounding board than the echo of martyrdom?

Clearly miffed at the manner in which the anti-corruption bill was stymied by the other party legislators, Arvind has opted for the quixotic high road in the hope that the public will rally round and see his sacrifice as a sign of great courage. His name will be sung from Kolkata to Kanyakumari, Kashmir to Kochi, as the man of the moment.

Cynics are likely to look at the stained badge of courage and wonder aloud if it is not just ketchup and kippers, a sort of mélange of clever exploitation of the rage stoked in the man on the street against greed and venality.

Kejriwal has effectively used the ‘anti-corruption’ card and it has caught the fancy of the masses. Linked to a crusading zeal that even trampled on individual rights as he cantered about sprinkling names of the high profile ‘accused’ with the abandon of someone flinging fistfuls of confetti at a wedding, Kejriwal obviously has done his sums. And the bottom line has indicated that public support, that was sagging in recent days, will suddenly get a boost with this surrender of power.

It is smart, it is clever and it has a tiny heroic quality about it, but it does fly in the face of one hard fact: the public can be cruelly fickle, and Kejriwal might discover that the tactic of ‘my way or no way’ has begun to lose its appeal.

There is little comeback when the exceptional tactical move becomes the only option to be exercised. The sulky child then replaces the astute politician. For the middle and more privileged classes he has always been a bit of a raggedy ann imposter and that sense of ridicule could easily percolate to the common man. After all, you came to fight the good fight and you left the arena at the first roar of the lion.

Kejriwal can only hope his intelligence and his advisors have got the right focus on the national bid. Modi will not be a pushover and it does seem a bit ungrateful to have gotten bored with the surprising Delhi victory so swiftly.

The Delhi government did not even get down to first base and there is now a sharp divide predicated to whether Arvind Kejriwal is, like Caesar, an ambitious man and not so honourable as he projects himself or he is truly a wonder kid who battles on regardless of where the pieces fall.

The jury is still out on that one because even those who support him have a sneaky feeling that the Kejriwal protocol calls for less circumspection and more commotion.

In the end, corruption gets the benefit.

 

 

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