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  Anarchist as CM  
  Kejriwal's dilemma  
  ONE of my favourite quotations is by the great essayist, Francis Bacon. It says, "some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them". I include Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the third category because he is a beneficiary of the anger the people of Delhi have been feeling over the high level of corruption in the country.

It was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who converted the Indian National Congress, founded by Allan Octavian Hume as an organisation to file petitions to the British authorities, into a powerful political movement that shook the foundation of an Empire where the sun never set. Nehru and company were beneficiaries of the Mahatma's espousal of the cause of freedom.

It was modern 'Gandhian' Anna Hazare's campaign against corruption and his demand for a strong Lok Pal that catapulted Kejriwal, a former member of the Indian Revenue Service, into the limelight. He had the foresight to conclude that the people's anger could be converted into a political party and he could even have a shot at power. Some of his pre-election statements bear out that even he did not expect a runaway success.

A bunch of well-intentioned people, like those belonging to  the Rotary Club, do not make a political party. There are certain prerequisites for a political party. It should have an ideology, a constitution, a programme and members who subscribe to the ideology. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) did not have any of these, not even a flag when it contested.

Kejriwal created political history when he became Chief Minister with the support of the very party which he had been denouncing as the fountainhead of corruption. He justified the government formation on the ground that he had held mohalla meetings where the people asked him to go ahead. Nobody knows till today how many such meetings were held, how many attended and how many favoured the AAP accepting the Congress support.

In his enthusiasm to remain an "aam admi", Kejriwal said he won't shift into the Chief Minister's official residence. Little did he realise that the house was centrally located and was convenient to his official visitors and party workers. He exposed himself to public ridicule when he opted for an alternative arrangement which was no less ostentatious. 

Kejriwal made another foolish statement that he was a believer in God and he did not, therefore, need any security. He probably had no understanding of the Indian situation. Last year, on a visit to Melbourne, my host Saju Koshy mentioned to me how he once saw the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard freely mixing with the people without any security bundobust.

Two decades ago, Latika Padgaonkar and I were guests of the Mongolian government at Ulaanbaatar. The Minister for Privatisation, an important portfolio those days, gave us an official lunch. From the minister's office, we all walked down to a restaurant. There were no policemen around. On the way, some people exchanged greetings with the minister. India will never be like that.

Recently, Malayalam superstar Suresh Gopi, who anchored the vernacular version of the reality show "Kaun Banega Crorepati" had an unpleasant experience at Ranny in Pathanamthitta district. His car broke down because of a flat tyre. He sat comfortably in the car with the air-conditioner switched on as the driver got busy changing the tyre.
Alas, a passerby recognised him and soon there was a large crowd of people, some of whom wanted to touch him, pinch him and feel him. To cut the story short, the actor had to run for safety and take shelter inside a bakery. Without police help, it would be almost impossible for Kejriwal to move around in Delhi. I can bet that his own supporters would not leave him to peace.

I remember Purushotham Kaushik, who became a celebrity when he defeated Vidya Sharan Shukla in the 1977 election that brought the Janata Party to power ending the Congress supremacy. He became Minister for Civil Aviation in the Morarji Desai ministry. On his first visit to Bhopal after becoming minister, he chided a policeman for saluting him at the airport. He reasoned that he was a Janata Party minister and did not, therefore, need any such salute.

Kaushik had no idea that the salute was symbolic of the uniformed accepting the supremacy of the political authority. The post of Chief Minister may have been thrust on Kejriwal but as long as he holds it, he has a duty to maintain the best traditions of the office. Unfortunately, Kejriwal behaved like an incorrigible agitator when he heard that the Delhi Police did not play ball with his Law Minister Somnath Bharti.

When Bharti calls some fellow political leaders "pimps" and says that he would like to spit at the faces of Harish Salve and Arun Jaitley, it is difficult to believe that he is the most educationally qualified person in Kejriwal’s Cabinet. T.S. Eliot could not have known Bharti when he asked the questions,"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"

To be an African in India is not easy. One of my relatives is married to an African, who always keeps her hair covered and says grace before eating even a morsel of food. Once I accompanied her to the visa office in Delhi. I felt that the Americans and Europeans were treated better than my relative for the simple reason that she was black.

If Africans stay in large number at Khirki Extension in South Delhi, it is because accommodation is relatively cheaper there. They are in India for studies, business, treatment and the like. I know one area near Vikaspuri where refugees from Myanmar live together. In Khirki, not one African owns a house. Everyone is a tenant. They have to pay a higher rent than what fellow Indians have to pay. Now, the charge against them is that they run prostitution and drug rackets.

The residents were reportedly incensed over this. In that case, they could have persuaded the landlords not to renew the tenancy agreements with those people. 

Delhi is a funny place and the residents of some colonies are a funnier lot. They do not want any slums near their colonies but they want people from the slums to do their cooking and cleaning at a fraction of the cost they would have paid, if they had lived in Kerala.

It may be true that police are hand in glove with drug dealers and those who run prostitution rackets. After all, Justice A.N. Mulla of the Allahabad High Court had once said, "There is not a single lawless group in the whole of the country whose records match that of that organised unit, which is known as the Indian police".
If Bharti had clear evidence about the Africans' involvement in these rackets, he should have gone the legal way to bust the rackets. After all, he is the law minister of the state. Instead, what did he and his vigilantes do? They waylaid a group of Ugandan women travelling in an auto-rickshaw. 

They were manhandled, called names and forced to give urine for drug tests. By the way, the tests did not find them guilty of drug use. They also raided their homes at night to bust the prostitution racket. Was anyone found with his pants down during the search? No, nobody was found indulging in flesh trade. Now, imagine the feelings of the Africans. Or, is that they do not have any feelings, which are the preserve of the Aaam Aadmi Party members?

We as a nation always talks about "atithi deco bhava" (The guest is God). Is this how we should treat foreigners? Two Ugandan women have identified Bharti as one of the persons who raided their houses at night. Bharti wanted summary action against all the policemen who refused to raid the women's houses at night on his orders. The Law Minister should have realised that taking the law into his own hands was a punishable offence.

The law is very clear. The police can't raid a house without a magistrate’s warrant. Besides, a woman cannot be arrested at night. In this case, the police were in the clear. It was in support of Bharti's demand that Kejriwal went on his 33-hour dharna. Kejriwal was himself not sure what he wanted. First, he demanded action against all the policemen involved. Then he said that the Delhi Police should be brought under the control of the Delhi government. Finally he was satisfied when three policemen were asked to go on leave till the inquiry was completed.

At one point, Kejriwal admitted that he was an "anarchist". The dictionary defines 'anarchist' as a person who believes that governments are unnecessary or undesirable. It also defines 'anarchist' as a person who tries to overturn the government by violence. A chief minister, who took an oath that he would uphold the Constitution at all times, cannot remain in office even for a moment if he is an "anarchist".

Perhaps, Kejriwal would not have known what George Bernard Shaw had once said, "Anarchism is a game at which police can beat them". Anyway, I hope the Supreme Court, which has taken cognisance of a petition filed in connection with Kejriwal’s anarchism, would soon give its verdict.

The Chief Minister's game was to force the Congress to withdraw its support to his government so that he could become a "martyr" and get more votes in the Lok Sabha elections a few months away. However, his dharna did not evoke the kind of support he expected. The Lt. Governor of Delhi gave him an excuse to call off the agitation when he appealed to his good sense in the name of the Republic Day celebrations.

What's worse, Bharti has been defiant all through. He seems to believe that as minister, he is a law unto himself and the police are at his beck and call. Many Africans have left Khirki because of fear. People in India protested when in an isolated incident, an Indian "student" was attacked in Australia a few years ago.
The Australians were called racists and a gentleman discussing the incident on television even went to the extent of reminding them that their forefathers were criminals, exiled to the continent.

Have Bharti and Co. behaved any better? In the US, Britain and Canada, Indians are considered "noisy" and "smelly". They are not welcome as tenants. Years ago, I was told by several landlords in Delhi that they won’t give their houses to non-vegetarians. No, I did not have any complaints against them because they had the right to choose their tenants.

But when tenancy is rejected on grounds of religion and the colour of skin, it is a matter of concern. There is no data to suggest that Africans are more problematic than other nationals. In fact, one report suggests that among the foreign nationals accused of drug-trafficking in India, the single largest group is that of Nepalis. Incidentally, Nepali Gurkhas are still in great demand as security guards.

Kejriwal has a high opinion of himself. He does not believe in courtesies. He did not call on either the President or the Prime Minister after becoming chief minister. In politics as in life, courtesies and decencies matter a lot. As leader, it is his duty to chastise his followers if he finds them on the wrong path. He showed some determination when he withdrew support to a party candidate against whom some criminal cases were pending.

He should have shown similar determination by asking for the resignation of the Law Minister and not become a laughing stock by sitting on dharna. A person is known by the company he keeps. Kumar Vishwas is no ordinary person. He is always seen beside him. He is the one who ridiculed nurses from Kerala in a poem. In another, he ridiculed the Muharram procession. 

Of course, Vishwas did that before joining the AAP! In that case, why did Kejriwal withdraw a candidate after he was given the party ticket? After all, he had committed the crime much before joining the party. Arvind Kejriwal can either be a chief minister or an anarchist. He cannot be both at the same time.

The writer can be reached at

Courtesy: Indian Currents
  By  A.J. Philip  
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