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: JASSIMARWAH

    The current trend of the Netas being called on the TV screens to debate on the on goings has reached a sickening level and makes one feel like throwing up.

    These Netas blatantly shamelessly – albeit not aimlessly – shower incessant indignity on the opposite parties, bring out their meanness (which the public is aware of anyway), bleat about blow their own trumpets to the loudest octave.

    These debates provide no food for thought to the common man, no intellectual nourishment to the mind, lack in decency, manners, courtesy, politeness.

    The worst habit of these netas – which puts the fisher women to shame – is the incomprehensible &inaudible din that they create by interrupting when their opponents are making a valid point against their own party.

    The TV anchors are absolutely helpless in reining them in.

    It is worth giving a try to call some more educated class, the intellectuals and experienced persons from all walks of life to the forum and seek their opinions instead, and if the need be felt to seek the opinion of any Nets, the Neta be call up on phone and his opinion sought on screen to prevent him from going on and on and on….. This will also help the anchor main the dignity of the debate by cutting off the signal of the Netas whenever they speak nonsense.

    The present trend of these debates stinks of favoritism against the underdogs – not just the aam aadmi – but the Aam AAdmi Party as well.

    1. says: Prasanna

      A retired IAS Officer’s praise for the AAP’s revolt against an established System and blaming the Media for a self inflicted remark ‘Anarchist’ will not be Shared. It is his personal opinion which do not stand reason.

  2. says: SAROJ Kumar Yadav

    The article is thought of every right thinking person. Devoid of name or personality this article is universal thought. Thanks to Mr Shukla.

  3. says: Ankit

    I DO NOT agree wtih point 2.. this is a bullship statement comparing center subsidies with state level.. Mid-day Meals, MNREGA and Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan schemes are for very poor.. but water subsidy in delhi for upper middle class.. think if you have a house in delhi with water connection , you are not a poor.

    1. says: Raj

      This is the problem with Indian mentality….the focus should be always on wrong part. I dont say AAP will be 100% right from all angles but the thought, the perpose is good.

  4. says: Raghav Agarwal

    While I am in full agreement with all of the aforementioned points, I feel that the FDI policy decision is a product of poor economics(or lack of it) and an earlier promise based on a demagogic agenda without considering the deprivation of the benefits of the is offspring of globalization. How can one disapprove of the policy in entirety when what it seeks to do may be immensely beneficial to the economy of the state ?

  5. says: chandrashekar

    Published on Siasat (http://69.16.252.177)

    AAP EFFECT IN DELHI :Chori and Rishwat khori ghaib

    New Delhi: The Aam Admi effect is visible in many government offices dealing directly with the public. The crowd of
    touts waiting outside government offices has suddenly vanished.
    Attendance :
    The clerks manning the counters are reaching office before time for fear of stern action following complaint
    on the Delhi government helpline. An official said earlier the clerks used to make money from the touts by
    rejecting applications, but now they are helping the applicants forward their pleas.
    Vanishing Brokers :
    Every government office used to run with the help of brokers now a days no broker is seen around the
    office previosly they used to share their booty with the government officers ,,,bye bye
    AAP Volunteers :
    Every delhities think that its his moral victory they were fe up with the corruption and time consuming
    procedures of govt offices and now they are feeling vey happy as both the time and money were saved.
    INDIA TODAY GROUP CVOTER Mood of the nation survey
    THE Aam Aadmi Party ( AAP) made its national ambition very clear after it formed the government in
    Delhi. That ambition is riding on the fact that there seems to be a wave of support for the party in several
    areas, especially those contiguous to the national Capital.
    But cold numbers, such as these revealed by India Today/ C Voter Mood of the Nation poll, show that the
    road to fulfil that ambition is a long and tough one.
    Done before the dharna by Arvind Kejriwal outside Parliament, the survey projects that AAP will get eight
    per cent of the vote, translating to about 10 seats, if Lok Sabha seats are held now. But a five per cent vote
    swinging its way could get the party 30 seats.
    A stronger push can get them up to 50, which will make them kingmakers. To be the king, the party needs
    to swing 25 per cent of the vote, taking them to 300 seats in Parliament, and make Arvind Kejriwal the
    probable prime minister.
    At least 70 per cent of the respondents to the survey in Delhi think that?s possible. But the challenges
    before the AAP are apparent.
    Page 1 of 2
    The party doesn?t have a strong organisation in most states. Campaigning is yet to start in earnest, which
    could test the party.
    There could also be a negative ruboff from the unending controversies that continue to hit the party. What
    it does have going for itself is the image of Kejriwal as an honest politician and its willingness to break
    political conventions.

    courtesy and thanks to mail today

  6. says: P S Rawat

    Mr. Suresh, but i do not think that what you are thinking is possible in India i.e.” EVERY DICTATOR IN HISTORY HAS BORN OUT OF POPULAR SUPPORT INITIALLY. THIS IS WHAT EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN US”.

    In Indian history this type of dictatorship never arise or will happen because there are different religion, cast, community and idealogy.

  7. says: Prabha Sivanandan

    I sincerely wish this revolution grows from strength to strength…. India is need of more Kejriwals now more then ever….

  8. says: Davamani

    Where is our country going? we have thousands and thousands of corruptions needs to be talk and media and gentlemen should focus on it? not making nothing from this Dharna. Whatever the step AAP taken relative to Dharna, it is for the People. Let people decide on it. Media is so rubbish and spreading wrong information by bringing in top anti AAP people for the purpose of TRAI rating.

  9. says: Rajendra singh solanki

    Exelent review sir,
    You have snatched the words from my heart. people of india the AAM AADMI are watching every thing . we know that Arvind kejriwaal is a HERO of modern india.

  10. says: Bharat B Pandit

    Coming from a former civil servant this is overly rhetorical, though a brilliant piece of thought provoking prose. The very initiation of the article ‘For the first time since Independence..’ Is a huge overstatement. Many will disagree.

  11. says: Raj Prakash Verma

    No doubt its really commendable act being done by AAP.I am dedicated member of AAP.I have propogated every where n everytime. But we will have to face the reality also.How many persons see email.General voters watch tv,news papers which is woned by Dalals of BJP n Cogress.In present scinario we will have to think something different to impress upon the mass voters of urban n rural India only then we n our AAP can succeed in getting goal.We will have to counter these buggars to nutralize their bad effect on people.

  12. says: Ramaj

    Bureaucrats especially when retired are awake, having forgotten oath during service, plead for revolution when juniors who have learned the art from them do the same thing. Has anyone willing to abide by the oath, to act without fear or favour, top to bottom everyone wants his aides to be from their clan, insist on pick and choose. Obedient servants may obey but cannot think about repurcussions. While in service they want obedience, out of it ask people to revolt. The best solution is to get rid of the organised services whose minimum education is still Graduation equivalent to clerks and most of them are negative like untrained lower bureaucracy, though the Govt spends a fortune for their training, salary, perks etc. At least after 65 years of Independence with facilities for higher education, the minimum eligibility for Group A Posts should be MBA, Post Graduate Professional Degree after graduation. While they have felt the need for increasing the qualification of Clerks from Matriculation to Graduation, they don’t change theirs. Alternatively, there should be vertical induction of professional with minimum 15 -20 years experience with proven professional competence. The present bureaucracy even upto the top most level waits for directions from the top because they are unaware of their role to serve the people in a free fair and transparent manner. These guys bring out books on how to improve efficiency in Public Sector and with low credibility, youngsters wish away their theory. It is unfortunate that they start preaching after retirement having done the damage for 30-35 years just for the sake of promotions. See the aberrations like Bedi, Kemka etc. Nagpal is better and at least she has realised quickly through networking.

  13. says: C Shivkumar

    Dear Mr. Shukla

    I read your brilliantly argued blog in the Hill Post. No Editor of any national english daily or television channel will support or endorse Aap. The reason is obvious. Journalists in this country have been compromised, as in the case of every other institution to Ambani’s, Birlas and just about every crooked corporate establishment in the name of liberalisation

    Journalism is no longer a profession of public interest. It is entirely for private profit. Supporting AAP or Kejriwal or any national renaissance movement doesn’t serve that agenda. Instead, serving the needs of private profit is the preminent agenda. To the reader that is sold as economic reforms. It is a different matter that none, nither the editor nor the readers understand the implications. Wasn’t it obvious when Sardesai comments that all the state electricity boards are insolvent due to subsidies. Subsidies, he doesn’t know, are borne by the exchequer and not by a body corporate called an electricity board. Isn’t that obvious when Swaminathan S Anklesaria Iyer, the Dean of Voodoo economics, argues that big retail creates jobs, when realities in the U S and Mexico exactly contradict his assertions!

    Any case your point on subsidies is absolutely right. The U S has a GDP of $ 16 trillion and a fiscal deficit of $2.4 trillion, meaning a deficit of 15 per cent of the GDP. In India, with a GDP of Rs 110 lakh crore, it is strange that a fiscal deficit of 5.5 per cent is a major problem! Why the focus on expenditure cuts? Isn’t it serve a cabal of carpet baggers in the name of reforms?

    Why not approach the fiscal from revenue side. In the u s the tax to GDP is 35 per cent. Even Mugabe’s Zimbabwe it is 20 per cent. India after 25 years of these so called economic reforms, the tax to gdp has dropped to 7.7 per cent from 17 per cent in 1989. What it means is that tax delinquency has mounted and the man on the street is virtually underwritng the moneybags including the likes of Mukesh Ambani and Infosys Narayanmurthy, (sadly role models of India’s youngsters).

    I entirely agree with you and Kejriwal that India can sustain higher subsidies. Subsidies are not an expenditure, as it is made out to be. They are an investment for a future, as in the case of power plant or a water supply plant. Subsidies on education have an economic rate of return ERR that are back ended unlike a financial rate of return. ERR is not part of the Chicago School of Economics of Milton Freidman, whose team caused the collapse of South America in 1982, from which the region is just recovering.

    India’s economy has entrusted into the same hands that contrived the Latin American collapse. We might just about reach there, unless we pull back. That can only be achieved by an organisation with a national vision. For 25 years, we have been imprisoned by greed and fear. Aap has given ordinary mango men like me the hope of freedom. I will vote for Aap in 2014 elections, but will also proudly campaign for them.

  14. says: Arvind Kochhar

    Sir, This is really an enlightening writeup. The public should not expect miracles to happen overnight and give ample time. In the current set up an aam aadmi has no existence. The system- the beaurucracy does not acknowledge him. A comon man can not lodge a police complaint. There is mo accountability of so called Public servants who treat the public as their servants. Judiciary is totally out of bounds, cases are hanginh on for decades. Now even the faith in CBI is eroded. Public health services, education, transport, banks , everything is deteriorating and crumbling. One main reason is ‘No one is accountable’.
    Very well written and thought provoking article, Shri Shukla. Thanks to the social media that people like me are able to read and know such things. Kindly keep writing. I personally feel that India has become ghulam again and the gore sahibs have been replaced by brown sahibs. It is men like Arvind KejriwalJai Hind.

  15. says: Vijayaraghavan C N

    Congress and B J P are part of the same coin. Both of them are playing dirty role, those who is watching day today happenings in India can make out what is what..

  16. says: PB RAMESAN

    Sir your views reflects the feeling of the common man who are until today voice less all the element of corruption join together to suppress this peoples movement they better remember that if a ball is smashed towards the floor it will bounce back more forcefully dont under estimate the power of peoples movement .the cordination ofwork to be made propagating through the face book didnt reach the mass rural population untill parliment election AAPS messege must reach every corner of the country . aap is going to make history in indian politics lets hope for the best jai hind

  17. says: aziz nathani

    Great MR.KEJRIWAL!!!.Wish u all the best and all the support AAP may need in organisational matters in Pune.

  18. says: Manan Vasenwala

    I agree in toto what you have written. We have to think out of box as those who want to derail AAP want to throw the book which they never read or followed for 60 yrs on us.

  19. says: manju bhatnagar

    Bahut thore yaani kum mei m sab kuchh likh dia vah kya baat hai aap badhai ke paatr hai aasha karti hun jaldi hi aisa. Padhne ko milega dhanyavaad

  20. says: Fariza Mursalin Shaikh Shaikh

    I am proud to b a part of this revolution n witness it live. Its th same war wat v had with th british ….satyagraha against corruption .

  21. says: Ramesh

    What one has to learn from French Revolution, Janatha Govt., Tehrir Square etc. ?
    What happened after these revolutions ? If we do not learn after decades and if we maintain status-co of those revs. what is the use ? Before breaking the rules implement the lessons learnt from those revolutions. Otherwise there is no meaning in revolution and it will be a waste of time. Had the learnt lessons been observed a Vinod Benny wouldn’t have arisen this early !
    No doubt. I am with AAP. Securing it with my eyes open wide always on it.

  22. says: vir singh rawat

    This is revolution for them, who are fed up with the present polity.
    This is anaracy for them, whom this different type of politics is going to hit.

    It is time to go with the experiment.

  23. says: Preety Dayal

    Thankyou Mr Shukla for such an inspiring insight.
    I believe in the present scenario our country people are desperately looking for an Alternative in politics which is being offered by Mr Kejriwal.He represents an Idea whose time has come..and the winds of change will blow away all the rot of the system.

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