Kejriwal’s Delhi Dharna – This is not anarchy, Mr Home Minister, This is Revolution

What we are witnessing in Delhi today is historic – for the first time since Independence a legitimate political party has refused to play by the rules that all political parties in India have battened on for sixty-five years; for the first time a State Government has taken on the Central Government at its own doorstep; for the first time a Chief Minister and his entire Cabinet are sitting in protest in their own capital; for the first time their own police force is ranged against them in their thousands.

The immediate reason for this may be the demand for the suspension of five police officials, but the actual reason is more basic, and fundamental to any democracy — accountability of the rulers to the ruled.

Kejriwal fighting the Central Government on Delhi streets
Kejriwal fighting the Central Government on Delhi streets

The rulers are not just the politicians and the bureaucrats – they are also the larger constituency that benefits from the present status quo: the industrialists, the TV and news organisations, the “cognoscenti”, the “glitterati”, the South Delhi socialites, the “intelligentsia” that makes a nice living by appearing nightly on TV panel discussions: in short, all those who are comfortable with the status quo.

They have, with the assistance of disgruntled elements like Kiran Bedi and Captain Gopinath, unleashed a veritable barrage of abuse and condemnation against Kejriwal and his party over the last week, terming him a Dictator, Anarchist, Chief Protestor, Law-breaker and so on.

It is because they feel genuinely threatened by the forces that the AAP has unleashed, the ethical standards that it has prescribed and demonstrated, the personal examples that its leaders have shown. Because they know that if these paradigms become the norm of a new India then the sand castles that these privileged reside in shall come crumbling down in no time.

And so they accuse Kejriwal of not following prescribed conventions, protocol or procedure and thus encouraging anarchy. Let us look at just three of these alleged transgressions:

1. Law Minister Somnath Bharti asking for a meeting of judicial officers of Delhi. What is improper about this? Isn’t the judiciary a part of the government – funded, staffed, appointed by the state.

Yes, it is operationally independent of the government (as it should be) but it is certainly not a holy cow whose performance cannot be questioned, or monitored, by the people of this country through their elected representatives.

The judiciary is meant to serve the people, just as the bureaucracy is, and it cannot have internal accountability only. An elected government has to have the right to review its performance, especially given the pathetic state of the disposal of cases in courts.

In my view Mr. Bharti was within his rights to take a meeting of judicial officers to assess the shortcomings of the system (which is the first step to removing these shortcomings). Yes, he could have routed the request through the High Court, but this was a trivial error and certainly not the grievous violation that the media made it out to be.

To the contrary, the Law Minister should be lauded for his initiative in seeking to address the issue instead of washing his hands of it as ALL LAW MINISTERS OF THIS COUNTRY HAVE DONE SO FAR, as if the collapse of the judicial redressal system was no concern of the government!

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2. Subsidies on water and power to small consumers in Delhi (something for which Kejriwal has been contemptuously branded a populist). Really?

The Central Government dishes out more than 160000 crores worth of subsidy every year on just three schemes (Mid-day Meals, MNREGA and Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan). Just about every state gives subsidies on water and power.

Here’s something Mr. Arnab Goswami and his kind should consider: the Golf Club in New Delhi which has about 4000 privileged members (all of whom are now arraigned against Kejriwal) has been given 250 acres of the most expensive real estate in the country worth 60000 crores for a paltry lease of about Rs. 15 lakhs per annum.

The annual return on Rs. 60000 crores should be at the very least Rs. 6000 crores: in effect, what this means is that every member of the Golf Club is being given a subsidy of Rs. 1.50 crores every year! The same is the case with the Gymkhana Club, another watering hole for the rich, the famous, and the now scared.

According to the latest report of the RBI, the total non-performing assets (NPA) of the Banks in India is more than Rs. 1.60 lakh crores.

NPA is just a euphemism for what the Vijay Mallyas and the Captain Gopinaths of the world owe to the aam aadmi (and refuse to pay) while flying all over the world in their private jets and pontificating in TV studios on the correct form of governance. Is it “populism” if indulged in by Kejriwal, and “entitlement” and “economic surge” when practiced by others ?

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3. Somnath Bharti’s (Kejriwal’s Law Minister) mid-night visit to Khirkee village has generated so much misinformation, ignorance of the law, reverse racism and hypocritical harangues that it is sickening.

Shorne of all this, what does the entire incident amount to? Merely this: a Minister, in response to complaints by residents (which are on record, as is the police inaction on them for months) of a locality personally visits the spot and asks the police to take immediate action by raiding the building where illegal activities are taking place.

The police refuse and insult the Minister. This is the essence of the matter.

All the rest – search warrants, lack of female police, racism, urinating in public, cavity search(!) [the latest addition to the shrinking vocabulary of Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi] etc.- are red herrings and a smoke screen which no doubt the judicial Inquiry Commission shall see through.

How was the Minister wrong in asking the police to take action? Is it a Minister’s job to simply sit in an air-conditioned office and write on files? (a question which Kejriwal has asked and to which we are still waiting for an enlightened response from Ms. Barkha Dutt and gang).

Does the police require a search warrant to enter a place where they have reason to believe that illegal activities are going on? Really, Mr. Salve?

If so, then how do you explain their barging into the house in the Batla House encounter and shooting three people, WITHOUT A SEARCH WARRANT? Or their constant nocturnal forays into the poor whore-houses of GB Road whenever they are short of spending money? 

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No, sir, the opposition to Kejriwal from the BJP and the Congress, from the Arnab Goswamis, Rajdeep Sardesais, the Barkha Dutts, the Kiran Bedis, from the Editors of English dailies, from the captains of industry, from the Single Malts and Bloody Marys of Gymkhana and Golf Clubs, does not stem from any illegality or impropriety on his part, or from any ideological differences between them.

It stems from their complete and total failure to comprehend what Kejriwal is and what he stands for. It stems also from the deep social divide between the upper crust of society( who are happy with the status quo where their money, power and contacts can ensure them a comfortable life) and the masses below them who have to daily bear the brunt of the system inspired corruption, harassment, inconvenience and indignity that the present dispensation guarantees them.

This (hitherto unacknowledged and invisible) divide becomes clear when we compare the editorial slants of the English and Hindi channels in the coverage of the ongoing protests: the former are virulently anti AAP and only pop up panelists who support that view, while the latter appear to be more understanding of what AAP is trying to do.

Those who are denouncing Kejriwal for being an autocrat, anarchist, activist and for protesting at Raisina Road are missing the most obvious point of his movement – THAT KEJRIWAL WILL NOT PLAY BY THEIR RULES ANY MORE.

As they say in Las Vegas – you can’t beat the house, because the dice are loaded against you. Everyone wants him to play with their set of dice  which they mysteriously call the Constitution and the CRPC!) but Kejriwal wants to play with his own dice, hence the confrontation.

They want him to pass a joint resolution of the Assembly for bringing the police under the Delhi govt.-he’s smart enough to see that the resolution will be thrown into the same waste paper basket where presumably the Ordinance on protecting convicted MPs was consigned by Rahul Gandhi.

They want him to be a good boy and take his dharna to Jantar Mantar where all civilised protests begin and inevitably end, while the govt. of the day can get on with its gerrymandering uninterrupted-he knows that unless he disrupts the comfortable existence of the bourgeois he may as well relieve himself in the Yamuna for all the difference he will make.

They want him to sit in the Secretariat and be guided by his bureaucrats and lose all touch with reality- he won’t fall for this Pavlovian routine. They desperately want him to become one of them, red light, siren, gun-toting commandos, Lutyen’s bungalow and all- he knows that if he falls for this he loses his USP and becomes just an intern in this hoary club of gnarled sinners.

They want him to follow the script co-authored by all the political parties of the day, not one excluded, because this script contains an agreed-upon plot, wherein politicians make noises but don’t act against each other, wherein corruption is just a sound-bite, where dynastic succession is a silently accepted sine qua non, where no one is interested in finding out whether the hundreds of proved Swiss bank accounts contain anything other than Swiss chocolates – Kejriwal, however, wants to write his own script with substantial inputs from the aam aadmi, not from the Ambanis or the Radias or the Shobhna Bhartias.

They want him to talk about corruption but not do anything about it, something Manish Tewari’s poetic flair would term “willing to wound but afraid to strike”, an attitude as old as Chanakya and Kautilya which offers all of us a catharsis via the good offices of Arnab Goswami and little else- but Kejriwal is no respecter of Machiavelli or Chanakya, his vocabulary is limited because he can only call a spade a spade, he is colour blind because he can only see in black and white (the shades of greys can be left for the likes of Manu Singhvi), and therefore he insists on striking, not just talking.

Is there any cause for surprise, therefore, at why the present dispensation, both in and out of government, is rattled by this five foot four inch “insect” from Ghaziabad? He is neither fish nor fowl, he defies understanding.

The establishment has made the supreme mistake of trying to counter him by quoting the rules of the game (loaded in the former’s favour, naturally!) they are past masters of- but Kejriwal has changed the rules, and now they don’t know how to control him or neutralise him.

For the time being only Kejriwal knows the new rules, and he is springing them on the carpet baggers one by one, catching them by surprise all the time.

Forget the English TV channels-they rarely get anything right. Forget the Manish Tewaris, the Kiran Bedis, the FICCI spokespersons, the Minakshi Lekhis- they are either scared witless or rank opportunists. What they all do have in common, however, is that they have failed to see how the common man-the aam aadmi-are gathering behind this dimunitive man with the perpetual cough.

The sincerity, integrity and commitment of this man is phenomenal, his capacity to harness the anger and frustration of the people is limitless. His defiance of accepted conventions and interpretations is not anarchy – it is nothing short of a revolution. When the people have had enough of injustice, callousness and indignity, they will not play by the rules of the rulers-they will make new rules.

The French Revolution would not have happened if the existing rules had been followed. Tehrir Square would not have happened if everyone swore by the old rules. Changing the rules, Mr. Home Minister, is not anarchy – it is the beginning of a people’s revolution.

The sooner we realise this the less pain in the transition, the less violence. No matter how the stand-off in Delhi ends – capitulation by the Home Minister and the Police, withdrawal of support by the Congress, imposition of President’s Rule, police violence on the protesters and their eviction – one thing is certain: Kejriwal is going nowhere.

He, and his paradigms, are here to stay and haunt our rulers. With his uncanny understanding of the pulse of the people he has re-written the rules of politics and governance.

There are now only two options Kejriwal has left the ruling class – either they change, or the people will change them.

Avay Shukla retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December 2010. He is a keen environmentalist and loves the mountains. He divides his time between Delhi and his cottage in a small village above Shimla. He used to play golf at one time but has now run out of balls. He blogs at http://avayshukla.blogspot.in/

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360 Comments

  1. says: Dilipkumar

    The views expressed are thoughtless. Not everybody us corrupt. There are good & bad things in every society and that does not mean we do what we feel is right just because few individuals are corrupt. It does not mean law is wrong. If it is so you cannot change it thus way. There is no difference between a goonda & civilised petson. The act of the minister condemnable so is of AAP

  2. says: parveen kumar

    This is wonderful article with real facts on the ground. it is absolutely true injustices to aam admi by the present establishment and collusion with wealthy elites to loot National wealth is the basic root cause of what is happening in India. AAP is a vent for the aam admi and a sign of revolution to bring change in the status quo.

  3. says: vrpratap

    it has said what i would love to say. the only change that independence has given us : the british has been replaced by the so called elite whlle the aam adami has remained the subjecta of british raj.

  4. says: M Prasad

    What Kejriwal is doing is unconventional. He is hitting on the conventional way of ruling the Govt. Its a transitional revolution. Transition of any kind is always difficult to be swallowed. But transition time is always short. Ultimately the truth, belief and the aspirations of the people will prevail. I am sure the way Kejriwal is determined without caring for his health. It would be a smooth run for the future development in India. Keep going, Kejriwal Ji. Long Live.

  5. says: A Bhowmick

    Ammeturish activism in 21st century. There are better way to handle the situation and address people’s grievances . AK has to learn to govern , otherwise he should go back to his urban chaotic agitation !

    1. says: Gyan Utsuk

      will you kindly provide some “better way to handle the situation and address people’s grievances” ? let see what are those………

  6. says: Surendran

    Society moves from pseudo democracy to true democracy. Kejriwal changes the basic idea of governance. The.existing establishments will not easily allow such change and oppose it in every form. Social change is ineveitable. Once right temperature is reached, water has to boil into steam. Until then, the so called anarchism will continue and spreads to every root of the society. A day will come that, every political party has to spport vehemently the same idea, which it opposes now.

  7. says: J.P.Chaturvedi

    I do not see any thing which goes wrong with Arvind Kejrewal when he was on protest against inactive approach of central government . How a central government can say protest is unconstitutional when the protest was completely in the favour of common man who is fighting day to day . Every act is constitutional if it is done in good faith of public. Home minister as well as leader of. opposition should not make a such statement which is so far from truth and reality.

  8. says: atul kumthekar

    For once educated people are now voicing openly against systematic anarchy called democracy in this country !
    Politician has become a profession – not a role in life after contributing to some field.

  9. says: VK Rai

    Very well-written article. It almost had me “converted”. Yet, upon deeper reflection, I feel the need to make the distinction between “process” and “objective”. “Process” simply refers to what the article’s main thesis is – that AK is confounding the system by working outside the rule-book and essentially disrupting the normal channels. “Objective” is quite simply (for now) the outcome that either materialises or one hopes will materialise at the end of the process. My point is not academic; it is that one should neither argue for the means (process) to justify the ends (objective), nor the other way around. But this “fence-sitting” so to speak should not preclude us from assessing the value of actions taken today. What AK is doing is admirable, especially from the point of view that following established channels would have not yielded any results, or potentially undesirable results. So many questions remain though – did the other people of Delhi deserve to have their CM out of action for 2-3 days (effectively not governing)? What exactly was achieved by the dharna? Probably the biggest question in everyone’s mind is – is this how the AAP will now govern? What will they do on larger issues of national or state significance? Will the revolution actually happen? There are just so many unknowns at this stage that at best, one can admire his courage and gumption, but in a guarded fashion. There is justifable disgust at the “oppression” by those in power and with money; there are also so many things wrong with the “tyranny of the majority”. No system, no country is perfect – not Canada, not France, not Singapore. Bribery, corruption and exploitation exists in many forms – sometimes even “legally” allowed. The question this raises in my mind is – is the “system” corrupt, or are people?

  10. says: Vinayak

    The paid media is taking undue advantage and creating a false alarm against AAP
    for all the strategist of AAP
    just clear the common mans misconceptions
    file heavy complaints against corrupt media
    continue ur work fr the noble cause
    we all r with AAP
    Jai Hind

  11. says: Vijay Bacholla

    What Somnath & Aravind exercised are absolutely right. If the police is reluctant to obey the minister order what else they can do. They went to Home Minister they went to Governor. They -followed the law. Please remember, his onetime dharna is a big lesson to our beloved home Minister. Drug rackets are under cognizable offenses those are not required any warrants for search and seizures.

  12. says: Nostrildamus

    The real Aam Aadmi is Modi, not Kejriwal who after all is from an elitist IIT, IRS bred zealot. It is easier to lead revolutions and fan anarchy as compared to building institutions and govern. The poverty ridden 40% and the unskilled ,unproductive rest just need someone to keep them engaged. Question is engage them in what? Surely not a revolution which leads them up the garden path and leave them stranded with no direction and gainful production. Learn from history. Even the great Mahatma erred by anointing a romantic ideologue like Nehru and the respectful JP blundered by supporting Morarji and his bunch of jokers. Both of whom flattered to deceive and set back the country by decades. Bottom line , we need a vigilante like Kejriwal in the opposition and a progressive common man like Modi to drive the nation. Before I am accused of being a BJP fan, rest assured I am a middle class professional who lost hope in AAP to provide governance but believe we need them as conscience keepers not governors.

  13. says: RAYMOND ARANHA

    Mob governance is neither revolution nor democracy. Under democracy all systems are in place. One has to excercise restraint for achieving results. He should know that our legal system is very slow and cases are pending in courts for years. Revolutions take place in autocratic systems. One can go through the world history of the recent past. By no means one can call our system autocratic. Elections are held periodically and it is for the elected representatives to change law and system by following legal means within the system. Cheap and populist governance by arbitrary methods, without legal authority, is not governance at all. Mr. Bharti, the Law Minister, should know law. He has not become a Minister from the Street. I am sure he has a Law degree. Why then this hurry. He is elected to Assembly and if he has a majority, change law and not break law. If he does, what is the difference between the elected representative and the common man. The people who support his actions are no better either. People who ask for instant results are not democrats but advocating autocracy, which is not in the interest of AAM ADMI.

  14. says: gajanan s tote

    a very good real fact has written ,it should be noticed by anti media to think truly, otherwise

    media has lost the public trust .

  15. says: Peeyush Kulshrestha

    What ever is happening these days in the Indian political arena, could well be understood as indigestion for a revolutionary change in the system. Today’s scenario is such that a coccus has been formed of all the handful HAVES (PBCMJP, put together) conspiring against the HAVENOTS (a large number, surely over a billion) to keep them deprived of their legitimate rights or a reasonably acceptable living; yet squeezing out a substantial living for self like a parasite.

    I am forced to think as to why can’t we have a better quality of life like citizens of every other developed nation? Then, I realise that ours is the nation which has not developed at all in last six and a half decade because in last half century I have been listening that ours is a developing nation but we have actually failed to overcome basic challenges like electricity, drinking water etc. The problem lies at both ends, rulers and the ruled but it’s the rulers who contributed more to today’s situation. Owning just a few so called highrise buildings or installation of couple of computers is not all about development unless it is correlates with a better quality of life. it also pains to see even in this 21st century an average citizen doesn’t know where to pee, pooh, spit or dump waste.

    My take on the issue is that we need to broaden our spectrum of thinking as well as start thinking on a larger perspective because for small gains if we continue like this then we would never be able to achieve big.

  16. says: (Mr.) Anil Kumar Vij

    I agree with the views expressed in this article.The existing rules & the so called laws are there to sub serve the vested interests of the elite–the ruling class which has cornered key places & bungalows in the posh New Delhi area. The article mentions about the English speaking (Nawabs). They are fast emerging as a separate class–the patricians. Their citadels all over the country are surrounded by the shanties — the so called JJ colonies.. You are never more than a kilometer away from a Jhuggi Jhonpri (JJ) colony.Have they ever stepped inside one to see the plight of the poor ? I asked someone “have you seen their toilets?” He said in surprise “they don’t have one ” I would like to ask him if it ever occurred to him as to how they defecate in the open? How do they do it ? In Delhi cantonment area, an irate senior army man shot at a person urinating in the open. Do we stop to ask ourselves , in case of a pressing need what should one do? There are no public toilets to be seen.

    I find posh ,shining public toilets in some of the finest areas in Delhi like the area close to Taj Mansing & Khan Market. There are several here–no passers by . Only luxury cars are speeding away.So no one uses them.

    In short India has two countries within. India & Bharat. The elite (the Indians) have so far usurped the entire resources – leaving the poor to live a miserable life. In between the top say 10% and bottom 10% the remaining 80% are peace loving middle class, happy with their status quo.

    Kejriwal is shaking up the hornest nest and invoking the latent power of the middle 80%. There is tremendous surge, thundering power beacons the top 10% to change fast, lest they are swept away the maddening tide.

    Buck up Kejriwal , we are behind you.

    Anil Vij 27-01-2014
    =======================================================================

  17. says: (Mr.) Anil Kumar Vij

    I agree with the views expressed in this article.The existing rules & the so called laws are there to sub serve the vested interests of the elite–the ruling class which has cornered key places & bungalows in the posh New Delhi area. The article mentions about the English speaking (Nawabs). They are fast emerging as a separate class–the patricians. Their citadels all over the country are surrounded by the shanties — the so called JJ colonies.. You are never more than a kilometer away from a Jhuggi Jhonpri (JJ) colony.Have they ever stepped inside one to see the plight of the poor ? I asked someone “have you seen their toilets?” He said in surprise “they don’t have one ” I would like to ask him if it ever occurred to him as to how they defecate in the open? How do they do it ? In Delhi cantonment area, an irate senior army man shot at a person urinating in the open. Do we stop to ask ourselves , in case of a pressing need what should one do? There are no public toilets to be seen.

    I find posh ,shining public toilets in some of the finest areas in Delhi like the area close to Taj Mansing & Khan Market. There are several here–no passers by . Only luxury cars are speeding away.So no one uses them.

    In short India has two countries within. India & Bharat. The elite (the Indians) have so far usurped the entire resources – leaving the poor to live a miserable life. In between the top say 10% and bottom 10% the remaining 80% are peace loving middle class, happy with their status quo.

    Kejriwal is shaking up the hornest nest and invoking the latent power of the middle 80%. There is tremendous surge, thundering power beacons the top 10% to change fast, lest they are swept away the maddening tide.

    Buck up Kejriwal , we are behind you.

    Anil Vij 27-01-2014
    =======================================================================

  18. says: Rekha Dhondiyal

    Corruption especially the kind we witness in India causes abject poverty. The poor get poorer while the immoral, corrupt brigade laugh all the way to Swiss banks. Kejriwal is right in doing what he does. He should just be extra cautious. Adversaries are waiting for his downfall. He must do what he must. I for one am a die hard fan of his.

  19. says: Jayaprakash S

    VERY WELL WRITTEN AND VERY TRUE.CONSTITUTION FRAMED BY POLITICIANS FOR THE POLITICIANS AND AMENDED ANY NUMBER OF TIMES TO SUIT THEM AT THE COST OF COMMON MAN ! AAP IS THE ONLY PARTY SACRIFICING FOR THE AAM ADMI

  20. says: Mallavoolu Rajesh

    Please don’t resist the churning …… there is nectar at the end of it ….

    As rightly said only Kejriwal is right is not acceptable ….

    But at least there has been a shake up to drop the rust and polish the society ……

    I have a gut feeling that this will not stop and the 80 % peace loving middle class will surely think of a peaceful way ( in their own work areas ) ….

    Dher saari Badhaiyan … I fully support this MANTHAN ….

  21. says: Surendra

    A good article putting the facts forward .
    Kejariwal has given an opportunity to get some extra money for few ‘high profile self proclaimed protector ‘ of our society by sitting in TV interviews evening after evening by crying loud that ordinary citizen of India can not and must not improve their life .Surprisingly no TV channel has ever said that India needs a living PM and not a dummy PM. God ! pl give us a PM who has some self respect and has guts to speak honestly & freely.
    We Indians need to stop pooja-kirtan of Nehru & Co right away. What is this? Rahul said that people from intelligence agency came to him and told that Pakistani Intelligence is in contact with Muslim youths of Muzzafar Nagar( UP)and our PM,Home minister ,Madam Sonia etc have no comments to make .Simple mockery of our democracy and republic

  22. says: Balkar Singh

    The ground reality is well expressed in this article. Every citizen of India should understand it and support AAP, the hope of better future of India.
    AAP ki jai ho.
    Har maidan Fateh.

  23. says: pankaj maheshwari

    Indian civilization had deveoped a dharma which we call ,Sanatan,means always changing and evolving. Only because of this concept it is the oldest living civilization of this world.
    We should follow this concept in all our rules and regulations,laws and acts which are the basis of our current judiciary ,administrative,legislative system. But we (indian)are so slow and lazy that we are just following the rules made by Britishers in their original essence of ruler and slave.

  24. says: pankaj maheshwari

    Arvind kejriwal and AAP party may fail but we should always remember that bhagat Singh and all our shahids did not got and enjoyed independence in their lifetime. But their contribution to the country is priceless

  25. says: DrSubendu

    Laws are made by us not god, for our benefit but in India it is largely to favour elite class people because at least they can reach for it. If a elite class person is slapped or even abused then it is headline but if if a poor person is muderd in a highly inhuman way that too is not even noticed. One simple line talking about laws and rules is like giving advice to hunger to worship god as it will solve his problems…

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