BY | November 6, 2012

By Parthasarathy Chaganty

No individual has dominated the Indian political space more than Arvind Kejriwal in recent weeks. The reason is that he has done the unthinkable: levelled corruption charges against the family of Sonia Gandhi, the most powerful woman in India, and Nitin Gadkari, the Bharatiya Janata Party president. Next in line was Reliance Industries Ltd of Mukesh Ambani, the richest Indian. The allegations may or may not stand legal scrutiny but there is no mistaking their rattling effect.

A Magsaysay award winner and a former Indian Revenue Service officer, Kejriwal shot into prominence last year when he joined social activist Anna Hazare. Their agitation attracted unexpected and massive public support, forcing the UPA government to bring out a Lokpal (ombudsman) bill to tackle corruption at the political and bureaucratic level with an added sense of urgency. That bill, rejected by India Against Corruption (IAC), is now with a Parliamentary Standing Committee but is no longer a pressing issue now.

The anti-corruption movement began to lose its momentum. Kejriwal realized there was no shying away from the political process. As Hazare was reluctant to enter electoral politics, Kejriwal decided to set out on his own with some IAC members and has finalized plans to launch a new political party. Launching a party may not be difficult but making it count can be challenging, more so when it seeks to be driven by a single-point agenda of rooting out corruption.

The truth is that issues like fight against corruption can appeal to urban middle class and occasionally succeed in mobilizing flash mobs but are unlikely to serve as foundation for a political party. For instance, Communists in India are for the most part untainted by corruption but they never go to town about it. Their support base has more to do with ideology than perceived probity.

In a space crowded by seven national parties, 30-odd state level parties and a multitude of unrecognized parties, it is no mean a task for a new party to carve out its own constituency. Further, election strategies in India are based on the composition of the electorate in terms of religion and caste and promises of sops and caste-based job reservations. Fighting elections is an increasingly expensive proposition.

If Kejriwal’s new party wishes to stick to its high morals and is content just to make a formal entry into the political arena, such a foray is not going to make any difference for several years to come, if ever. However, given his unmistakable ambition, Kejriwal is more likely to come to terms gradually with the realities of electoral politics and forge pre-election alliances with select parties without being unduly concerned with their source of funding or type of candidates they field. Since he has chosen to jolt both the Congress and BJP, it is evident he will try to position his party in the Third Front space.

It is in this context Kejriwal’s ideology and views on important matters merit attention. His opposition to market mechanism and profit motivation, unqualified faith in the wisdom and integrity of village committees to decide how to spend development funds and outrageous statements attributed to him like “If you want to change the system, you have to break laws”, and such other pointers are cause for concern. It is possible his views are still at a formative stage and amenable to change through constructive interaction. Since the basic intent of the crusader is laudable, every effort should be made to draw him out through persistent engagement so that his views on issues like inclusive growth and empowerment are not divorced from reality and he commits to respect democratic institutions and the rule of law.

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  • Ajay singh dara

    congress has a currepted party

  • V.B.V

    what’s the bottom line.It only indicates how bad the current politics are.And it is also obvious to look at alternative strategies.And I need not serve a country filled with crooks and terraorists and religious fanatics.Better to be content with my own family ( a small family) and not take responsibility rather than taking responsibility for things that donot work atall.Be the change you want to see.. did it work ..It’s just a meaning less sentence carrying weightage on some political dias.Let the funds come from those who do flesh trade and declare boldly that they do it for their living.I agree. Let the funds come from hardworking people who donot rob others.I agree.Let the funds come fromhonest people from their pocket donations.I agree.
    source of funds must be declared.what so ever..

  • krishan

    He will succeed and succeed with large margin because he is such a stamina that he can move the mountains. People of India should realize that the present system has exploited their poverty, that is also with the money of state like freebees without making efforts to increase the supply of goods and jobs. 65 years have passed we have schools without teachers . but distributing free books and laptops. We have some hospitals without doctors they pretend to distribute free medicines. They encourage inefficient professionals like doctros and engineers, but they go themselves for treatment to foreign countries . For whom they serve , they are the most exploited lot, because they lack the services of good professionals. India should awake and dismantle the old system inherited from British people where , government has all powers are others are slaves. The same very laws are prevalent today. See the irony of India , our PM in a democratic country of 120 crores is not directly elected member of Lok Sabha . Whether the elected representative should not be required to disclose their assets., liabilities , income and expenditure account and income tax returns and political parties are to disclose their source of funds and expenditure being incurred . They have to set the precedent of good governance which are being set by AK.

  • YOGESH

    ARVIND JI HAS A VISION WHICH IS DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS IN POLITICS.THIS VISION IS IDEALISTIC BUT WE CAN APPROACH UP TO SOME EXTENT.I HOPE WE SHOULD SUPPORT WITH THE BEST POSSIBLE WE CAN.HE SHOULD ALSO BE SUPPORTED BY BIG BUSINESS FAMILIES WHO ARE TRUE INDIAN.

  • Prem Prakash Yadav

    I am totally agree with this person that he is going is correct way. It is a hard core reality that he will have to face many problems in future because he is awaiting for a new India where all the persons are same and there is no special facility for any special cast. This fact is very hard to understand by society, But his this work will give fruits in the future and no one think about future, every one wants to live in present.He has all ready targeted congress , BJP and ambani group becaus they can change the face of india , they have power but due to own interest they are looking face of each. If we want a future India , Bright India we will have to help this person.