Friday, 5 June 2020

Two Puzzling Political Leaders Of India

Updated: March 1, 2014 4:22 pm

Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal are most talked-about and sought-after leaders besides Narendra Modi, who is not discussed here and stands in another class. I liked Rahul and Arvind but they are becoming a puzzle to me day-by-day, as both are painting a fuzzy picture. Let us first take Arvind, who came to power in Delhi on the support of the Congress and has fought relentlessly against corruption. For long, he has been an agitator and a street fighter. Even after forming the government, he has not adopted a new role of governance and is continuing the old love of agitation. His history began with leaving revenue service and joining social movement, first under the shadow of Aruna Roy, whom he discarded, and later joined Anna Hazare. The duo played a significant role in bringing the limelight to the need to eliminate corruption from the country, as it was a major roadblock in economic and social growth of the country. Soon, he got out of Anna’s fold, whom he paid lip sympathy of being a guru, and set up a political party called Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). I still tried to tread in his footsteps, as I thought for him there was no option but to meet the political force with the same force. I was convinced that he is honest and simple. His dropping red lights and muffle- clad poor-looking face was theatrically a picture of a lamentable aam aadmi. It turned out that he was not simple. He was mastermind in creating agitation on the spur of the movement and also throwing smoke of rumours and false promises to lure public. He made promises for getting votes and failed to implement them, as he himself gave time limit of a week and three weeks to many of his promises.

When it came to honouring, he made one or the other excuse and even compromised with declared assertions, thus bringing down his credibility. But the greatest weapon he had was to defame others or to create atmosphere of dislike for other leaders by painting them black. After his fiasco of dharna at Rail Bhavan, his support to rabble-rouser Bharati, his unlawful Minister of Law, and politics of riots or secularism et al the Congress left him undistinguishable from others. When he found he is facing protests of contract worker teachers and students all around, he developed a strategy to distract public by releasing a list of corrupt leaders whom they would like to defeat. Now it became clear to me that he wants to win 2014 at any cost. It was height of sensationalism but media fell for it and he played the game. When he faced internal revolt, he tried to blame others, especially the BJP, for trying to destabilise him. In reality, he himself wants to be thrown out so that he can fight 2014 elections on sympathy vote–a clever game of hitting others below the belt and defying the normative and ethical behaviour that he should have leant from Anna. I am, therefore, confused where to place him: a ruthless anarchist or a self-centred reformer.

Rahul, on the other hand, is innocence personified; he is not cheat or power snatcher masquerading as a reformer. But he is a babe in the woods. Recent interview on a channel at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan revealed that he neither understands the nuances of statecraft nor his ideology is any different from the Congress’ high welfare dole distribution. Through the interview, The Economist succinctly put it, “He might be regretting it already.” That is why he thought three gas cylinders can get those votes whereas fewer than 2 per cent will benefit without any gratitude. He has all the good intentions: internal democracy, system change and removing corruption, but when it comes to implementation, he is lost. On pertinent questions of system allowing former CMs of Maharashtra and Himachal, and why he is failing to take action, he had no clear answer. Where there is system, he is not even getting it implemented. Again joining on Lalu Prasad, he fumbled but said it is an idea and not an issue. To me, it sounded like his famous “poverty as state of mind” adage. He did not give any indication of macro-policy or system-change ideas but confined to giving tickets to young and a day later his party gave all tickets to old people for the Rajya Sabha. He should have ducked the question of 1984 riots but he set out a controversy. He means well but he has no way to get things done in the party or government except once in a while barging in Press Club and throwing the ordinance for protecting criminal legislators to dustbin. I wish he succeeds and learns the rope of governance, which can be learnt, as I know having taught a lot of such youngsters, but he seems to be a gentleman who has not met his right mentor. I am puzzled on what is his agenda for action.

By NK Singh

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