We have had a tradition of ruminating in the midst of battle. Bhagavat Gita was conceptualized in the midst of the Kurukshetra war. I intend to reflect every week on the fast changing scenarios, inner party dynamics, the national resonance and my personal reactions to the overwhelming developments. I may not possess good writing skills nor the necessary vocabulary, but will write candidly (maybe too candidly) in a self introspective, doubting manner with a touch of self deprecating humour. Do point out if I start taking myself too seriously.
There was a Marathi poem which I had heard long back, which essentially said “There was once a man who urinated in the sea; he spent his balance life measuring how much the sea level had risen because of his urination”. The last two days, I was that man.
On the Newshour program on Times Now on Tuesday, the 9th Oct, I told Renuka Choudary, the Congress spokesperson, that she should answer the nation frankly and honestly on the Robert Vadra issue instead of “Rolling your eyes and making faces”. She was understandably flustered and angry, but all those who watched were highly amused and there was a flurry of emails, sms, FB posts and tweets quoting my statement. Instead of immediately apologising to her on air, I marvelled at my sharp retort. For two days, I kept on going to the FB, twitter and gloating at my smartness.
Last night, post dinner, I suddenly realised what kind of monster I was becoming. I looked at other signs – there were plenty. My sudden desire to wear appropriate clothes (kurtas), telling people how many calls, emails and sms that come and cannot be handled, combing hair before TV shows and generally feeling like a cat-that-just-ate-the-canary. All my life, I used to mock and make fun of people who took themselves too seriously, people who were pompous, self opinionated and loving the limelight. Am I sliding towards that? Yes, too many warning signs, and therefore an urgent and dire need for course correction.
The reaction of the country to the revelations on the irrigation scam with Ajit Pawar’s resignation, Nitin Gadkari’s attitude of sleeping with the enemy and Robert Vadra’s Real Estate ventures was interesting, to say the least.
The way Arvind Kejriwal went about demolishing one party’s claim on honesty after another with clarity, documents, strategy and complete candour is unparallel. His honesty and truth comes out so vividly on TV, that he has become the hero of this nation. In a nation starved of icons (so starved that we used of think of Rahul Gandhi as a youth icon), here was a ray of hope. I have known him for many years and he is a complete WYSWYG (What you see is what you get). There is no pretence, no fake attitude, no game playing. Completely obsessed with serving the nation, by what he thinks is the right way. The inner clarity and truth makes him also fearless. But the real test will come when the vision, manifesto and party workings come to the fore. Am personally very impressed with his thoughts on decentralization and governance, as articulated in his book Swaraj. (Am I sounding like Salman Khurshid – will-give-my-life-for-Sonia Gandhi-kind? :))
Congress is its worst enemy. Earlier in every public meeting, I used to ask people to cheer for the three people who were instrumental in the growth of the India against Corruption(IAC) movement -Manish Tiwari, Kapil Sibal and Chidambaram. Every time they opened their mouth, thousands of angry Indians would join the movement. This time its Manish Tiwari, Rashid Alvi and Renuka Chaudhary. Is a 130 year old party so bereft of quality people that they have these people as their spokespersons? I would have thought that parties would like to have their smartest and best faces as the TV spokespersons. Are these the best? Its a matter of deep concern for the nation. At least, BJP has much better spokesperson with Nirmala Seetaraman being really good.
The best course for Congress would have been to respond to the Robert Vadra accusation with gravity, seriousness and impartiality. Instead, we are witnessing this terrible spectacle of one sycophant minister after another (one governor too), jumping on each other to rubbish the allegation on the ground that it was motivated. No planning, no understanding, no strategy – just a mad rush to show to the boss some “chaplusi” or “sycophancy”. I shudder at the quality of people in government. No wonder, we are in such a mess.
BJP is in a strange position. They tried their utmost to prevent the IAC party formation, but did not succeed. They dont know how to deal with this unknown entity. Every revelation made by Kejriwal was known to them – Robert Vadra, Nitin Gadkari’s “Char kaam hum karte hain…”, Irrigation scam (where their members are involved), Electricity issue in Delhi- but they kept quiet. Now when it is out in the open, there is a quandary. If they support the revelations, the question will be asked and is being asked about what they did as opposition till now, inspite of having the information and secondly, supporting IAC’s stand will also strengthen IAC, to their detriment. Cannot swallow and cannot spit out. Cannot take too strong view on corruption, as their leaders are going to be exposed too. Their discomfiture as they again try to reclaim the opposition space is amusing.
What is also very interesting is that both parties are on tenterhooks. They know that IAC has much more data on their parties and senior leaders. So, how does one react? You justify one and another will hit you. Now, with Kejriwal’s call to the people to give information on corruption of leaders, our offices are flooded with unbelievable information on the corruption of some of the top leaders of the nation. The revelations are shocking, to say the least. Media has also become very aggressive on this issue and the immediate future of the major parties is seeming rocky.
The strategy of both parties will be to somehow shoot the messenger. Try and discredit IAC and its members. So, we are soon going to witness all agencies, loyalists swooping on some of the faces of IAC, trying their damnest to discredit them. Strategy being ” Cant refute facts, dont worry – impute motives, plant some stories and brazen through”.
I think this may backfire badly. The people are loving this spectacle of the corrupt squirming and if any attempt is made to deflect – the parties will have to pay dearly electorally. And if any of the IAC people are physically harmed, especially Arvind, then this country may see a revolution. India is ready for the next phase of change.
We, surely are living in interesting times.