New Delhi Rhetoric

More the votes, better the ideology

Pradosh Nath

In India all political outfits are against corruption. We, the common citizens, are also against corruption. In Delhi we have voted for the Aaam Admi Party (AAP) that projected itself, through its leader Mr Arvind Kejriwal as a party that would never indulge in corruption and always fight against it. The AAP has created a larger than life image of Mr Kejriwal—a person, in local lingo, soaked in and washed with milk (dudhkadhulahua)—unblemished. Mr Kejriwal, therefore, is the last word in his party. Party cadres and leaders carry Mr Kejriwal to the people as a messiah for everything that is good for the country in general, but, for the time being, for the people of Delhi in particular, since Mr Kejriwal is yet to find room in the politics outside Delhi. It appears that he has to wait for some more time before he tastes success outside Delhi. This, not because there is dearth of corruption in the states other than Delhi, but I guess, because much of his diatribe against corruption is directed to personalities, who he chooses from time to time as the slugfest for his national ambition. Naturally, PM Narendra Modi at present is his bête noir. And the joke in the lower echelon of Delhi society is that Mr Modi is blamed even when Mr Kejriwal suffers from constipation. And since in India nobody, having a place in the power orbit, has ever been proved corrupt(as substantiated also from the result of demonetisation) except the first generation geeks in politics like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Om Prakash Chautala, with the on set of the election season, the respective party strategy defines who is corrupt and who is not. Since every leader claims 'holier than thou' image for him, and accuses others as corrupt, finally we are in a situation where either everybody is corrupt or none is corrupt. Personalised vituperation, therefore, has very short political shelf life. So, the anti corruption messiah of Indian politics has no qualms breaking breads with anybody; with the new dawn (pohalesharbari—borrowing from Tagore) friends becoming foes and foes becoming friends, depending on the strategic needs for national interest (for sure).

An interesting feature of this election is that leaders in every party are against Modi and many of them are against each other. Many of them were in alliance with BJP earlier. But now they think corrupt Modi is a threat to national integrity, and also whatever they think is good for the nation. All of them look for their share in the national politics because they want to save the country. Problem is—so does Modi, who has declared himself the chowkidaar of the Nation, Bharat.

I know about a stick wielding headmaster of a school, a staunch follower of Marxist ideology but Gandhian in lifestyle. What used to be told about him was that his stick was not for the students but for the fellow teachers, who would bunk classes for all kinds of pretexts. In most of the cases such acts are disguised as acts meant for welfare of others, or the country. Do we need a special stick for our leaders?

AAP has fielded Ms Atishi Marlena from East Delhi. From an earlier interview given to Business Standard, we know that the second part of her name is from Mar(x) and Len(in). For the present election purpose she has removed the second part of her name, apparently because she was facing difficulties explaining her caste affiliation to the caste conscious Delhi voters, and donned back her caste identity as Rajputani, Kshatrani. AAP is a quick learner of the political games played in India. In a very short period they have picked up the arithmetic of vote bank politics. So, in important religious festivals observed by different communities political parties make extra effort to woo the communities through subsidising the activities in the name of social welfare. The AAP has jumped into the fray in competition with the veteran politicians and won the race of serving the devotees. Many such religious activities are performed by rowdies dressed as devotees. Across Delhi in different locations camps are set up to extend relief to devotees exhausted performing religious rituals. These days such camps are adorned with the life-size photos of the leaders of AAP, blurring the visibility of the leaders of other old parties. Ms Atishi, who has shed the second part of her name, is most visible in such occasions in her constituency.

Is that corruption? Surely not, because, it is social welfare. Is that social welfare? Well, it is the age-old practice and belief of the common man and the same should be respected.

The tailpiece—the Delhi state unit of CPI(M) has asked Delhi voters to vote for AAP, not Congress. They are unhappy of the soft Hindutva line of Congress, and also because the Congress President is fighting against the CPI(M) candidate in Kerala.

Did we also sometime back talk about changing the society? Well, what if the society does not want to change? We cannot desert and orphan the society, no? So we move along.

2 May 2019
(Although the article refers to pre-Election scenario, we prefer to publish it because of its underlying message)

Vol. 51, No. 51, Jun 23 - 29, 2019