THE LAW and the courts are not happy with Arvind Kejriwal and their protector - the Law Minister Salman Khurshid. They feel Kejriwal and Khurshid, who are playing a knockout round, have stepped into the boxing ring and kicked the referee, namely them, towards the general direction of the South Pole. Khurshid has only called upon them with a Rs. 200 crore defamation suit against the India Today group, after he felt that Kejriwal, Aaj Tak TV channel, and India Today magazine, had hit below the belt.
It's a curious thing - what is it in Kejriwal that makes public figures poo in their pants - as if they are expected to clear their name from Kejriwal's black book? Has the Congress attached so much of moral authority to him that he triggers a panic reaction everytime he takes out a A4 sheet from his pocket and throws it in their direction?
Kejriwal is not the only 'Argumentative Indian'. Many of us don't like it when we are bypassed. We might curse the law, which certainly deserves our venom many times - but the fact is that India has a judiciary. Kejriwal could have have taken the law's help to probe his allegations against Khurshid. Taking to the streets after first fully following the 'procedure' sits much better with the people of India. The activist could have said, "Look, I tried approaching the law, but they are taking too long...you see, this what I am talking about...our courts are so clogged with cases and inefficiency that hoping for a decision is useless." This might be talk and strategy of a simpleton, but will not force the government to get into survival mode, which might be dangerous for Kejriwal.
But let's pause before we get on our high horse. Kejriwal didn't become a war horse overnight. We have to give credit to Arvind Kejriwal that for years he analyzed the state of affairs in India and what was stopping change. There came a point - of events and his sense of conviction - after which he thought only a frontal assault would shake things up. That's how Kejriwal seemed to have evolved over the last 7-8 years. He knows that people who support and those who don't will come and go, he knows that there will be criticism of his 'guerrilla warfare'. Systemic change from within is taking far too long to weed out corruption, which he has correctly outlined as the single most serious problem in the country.
So who is going to undertake the scary task of taking to the streets - instead of being elegant about it? We might disagree with the tenor of this ways. But he has a fire in him to cleanse the country, and unlike many of us - he is in a hurry. Even if he makes enemies of the entire political class, and is 'sorted out' by them - we will do a great disservice to the anti-corruption movement if we continue to indulge in fence-sitting. Kejriwal's believes that it's time to shake the consciousness of the country - to remind the political class that the people of India no longer want to be taken for granted. We don't want to wait for General Elections 2014. We want to use our universal adult franchise today, now, on the street, and continue to cast our vote everyday.
But if Socrates were to re-appear from the dead, what would he whisper in the ear of Kejriwal? He would tell the story of Icarus, the grim possibility of failed ambition. In Greek mythology, Icarus wants to escape from Crete through wings made by his father from feathers and wax. Icarus ignores instructions to not to fly close to the sun - the wax melts, and he falls into the sea and drowns to this death.
Kejriwal's biggest asset is that most of us trust his commitment for the anti-corruption movement. He can continue to dig up all sorts of dirt on the biggest politicians and figures of authority anywhere in the country. But if he makes even one mistake - of wrongful accusation of a powerful public figure, the equivalent of crossing swords with the Yama of political suicide - his limbs will be tied to a barge pole, and he will be quartered like a hated man-eater by authorities hell-bent on survival.
The question is - it being 2012, it being a time of Facebook, Twitter, and highly informed citizens knowing about 'rights', and it being a milieu when even China thinks twice before acting like a police state - will Kejriwal be taken to task by the Congress if he takes a false step? Will the ruling government get away with it, if it unleashes its 'ministerial dogs' in vigilance, tax, and police departments? Will Sonia Gandhi crack, and order the muzzling of Kejriwal? If it does, the BJP is waiting, and so is Narendra Modi.
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