There is an old biblical dictum that says those who live by the sword die by the sword. This dictum finds its resonance in the Aam Aadami Party’s political journey so far which has been, to a large extent, created and nourished by the puissant media power. The media has created, sustained and heightened the euphoria over the curious phenomenon of AAP, which has managed to acquire an envious place of dominance in Indian democracy. But, this act of media need not be taken for granted.
Media makes heroes and creates haloes around them. In doing so media goes over the top; it blows each positive trait of the person out of proportion and cries up each single fact about them worth a mention. The 24×7 odes of praise combined with the visual availability of the man across the whole gamut of electronic and print media gives celebrity status to the person and thus the contours of a hero emerges. Both the media and its new-found celebrity enjoy the situation for some time before the media gets bored. As long there is novelty around the person and his ideas, media remains interested in him but the moment the novelty wears off the media gets restless. Now it requires some new heroes who could inject some cool air of freshness in the situation. Thus, media ditches its hero and cries him down. It no longer finds him saleable.
Maybe, the media-born celebrity in Arvind Kejriwal, too, realizes this situation well and hence, he is trying hard to inject some freshness in the affairs of his Aam Aadmi Party to keep the interest of media alive in him. This goes to explain the rhetoric and the theatrics that the party has of late taken recourse to which was well visible in its 2-day’s dharna at the Rail Bhawan in New Delhi. However, such theatrics are not going to yield favourable results for the AAP and the causes it espouses. Rather, it is sure to erode the confidence of a sizable number of the middle class voters, a majority of who had voted for the party in the Delhi elections. The middle class got appalled to hear his defiant chants of ‘anarchism’ and felt alienated at his actions which bordered upon lawlessness. This surely isn’t going to cut ice with a majority of his progressive voters, who put premium on means in equal proportions to the goals they cherish; a majority of them felt that that the goal of this dharna might be noble and sacred but the methods employed by the AAP leaders failed to find resonance with their world-view.
Similarly, the actions of the Delhi’s Law Minister, Mr. Somnath Bharti, leaves much to be desired. His high-drama mob-raids on unsuspecting foreign nationals and his mouthful of expletives against his seasoned political opponents are in poor taste which is sure to horrify the electorate. The AAP has got many lessons to learn in it. The party has come to power riding the wave of anger of the common man against the system. Now, its cadres feel empowered. The same cadre that once felt disillusioned with the system now feels emboldened to take on the system through its own methods. The party cadres are impatient with the system and hence not willing to let the system act in legally established ways; rather they feel the urge to set things right in their own whimsical ways. Thus, they are willing to raid the premises of vulnerable individuals riding on the zeal of their brute mob power. The party may score brownie points with segments of lower disillusioned masses of the state but at the same time runs the risk of turning its cadres into the likes of those fascist ‘black shirts’ or the ‘storm troops’ of Nazi Germany. Such mobocracy must stop. This is a dangerous temptation against which the party think tanks need to work overtime to guard its cadres.
The whole affair of Somnath Bharti is a blot on AAP’s escutcheon; the sooner the man is removed from the position the better for Arvind Kejriwal and his party. The minister has been indicted by the court on the charges of tampering with evidences but Mr. Kejriwal is standing rock-solid behind him cocking a snook at the court’s findings, which the latter finds wrong. Now, he’s sitting in judgment. This way, isn’t Kejriwal closing ranks with politicians of other political parties like the Congress or the BJP, who give similar pleas while refusing to remove their ministers accused of similar malpractices or indictments by the courts? So, where is the difference, Mr. Kejriwal? You refused to accept the pleas of pending enquiries in case of congress or BJP ministers but you’re running extra miles to protect your own minister stuck-up in similar circumstance. How can there be different yardsticks for similar situations?
People have lots of hopes and expectations pinned to the great experiment of the Aam Aadmi Party. The great Indian middle class has many cherished goals like good job, good espouse, good cars, good education for children, good house and good quality life. To this kitty of celebrated goals, it has further added the goal of having good governance and a corruption-free political order, by putting strong stakes in the AAP experiment. After having jumped the bandwagon of the AAP, some of those middle class electorates are feeling disillusioned. Hence, it is high time now that Kejriwal should speak by his actions. He needs to get into the teeth of governance and perform to give back some of those skies that he’s promised to the electorates of Delhi.
Governance is not all beer and skittles – it’s a difficult job, much more than the job of an activist. Hence, Mr. Kejriwwal, you need to get into the shoes of a Chief Minister now and act out of there. Well, take all those perks and privileges that your position offers; the middle class and those underdogs of your constituency won’t mind. But, get into action; get into governance and give your damnedest. The restless masses want performance. So long you deliver on those promises they give a damn about other things like your perks. Hence, no rhetorics, no theatrics – just deliver. Stop playing to the galleries to please those who don’t matter. Forget those hawks of media. They will sing praise in countertenors and sopranos once you deliver on those promises. Else, the media would maul you; it’s extra zealous in denouncing its jettisoned heroes and in debunking the aura around them.
Therefore, Mr. Kejriwal – don’t run the risk of dying by the media.
Krishna Kumar @ Thought Pourri 2014