Politics is not sacred. It is full of dirt, says Anna Hazare. Point taken. But someone must ask Anna if everyone gets scared of getting dirty, who will change the quality of politics in the country? This is the escapist tendency that typifies the attitude of the educated in the country. They love to cry themselves hoarse about the country going to the dogs because of politicians but they would never shoulder the responsibility of ushering in change.
This is hypocrisy of the highest order. The template of Indian politics is hopelessly dated as is its political idiom. Both require fresh blood and ideas. People who are already entrenched in the system won’t want it to change - they are used to the rot and would like to perpetuate it for selfish reasons. The challenge to the established order has to come from new players in the field. It can only be good for democracy if the young and the educated accept the responsibility.
When a whopping majority of our youngsters abandon their intellect to be part of the political or ideological herd - read the Left or the Right - while actually running away from politics, you realise there can be no challenge to the well-entrenched and obnoxious political establishment. We are in a situation where most of those talking politics are long distance, armchair politicians with pet likes, pet peeves and pet hates shaped along the ideologies they subscribe to. This has to change if we want to have fresh thinking.
Anna is free to have his view of politics. But he must allow Arvind Kejriwal to do his brand of politics, which one hopes will be a welcome relief from the asphyxiating Congress-BJP duality of our political thinking. The Gandhian has his reasons to be cynical about the people who run the country. As a social activist of long standing he has seen the world up and close - and yes, there’s no denying his tremendous contribution to the society. But his remark on politics is uncalled for.
"Politics is not the right direction...This country will not get the right future from politics," he said. But Anna forgets that politicians derive their legitimacy from the people and democracy is ultimately about people. Our politics is messy, noisy and full of practices that are downright unethical and immoral, but in a country so diverse and so many conflicting interests all this should be considered a normal part of the growing up process. Democracies need time to mature. Giving up just won't do.
If Kejriwal creates a new party with new followers and a new look at politics he should encourage it wholeheartedly. The party will die a natural death if it fails to carve out a distinct space for itself. Kejriwal must understand that if he decides to take the populist route to politics he has so many competitors already. This is where the coordination between Anna Hazare and him becomes crucial. The former can keep his distance from direct politics but he can serve as a moral compass for Kejriwal, reminding him not to deviate from his course.
Kejriwal looks to be in an undue hurry to make a mark in politics. That could be detrimental to the growth of a proper base for his party. It is obvious that he is helpless without the moral force of Anna behind him. Anna, he must remember, is not an overnight phenomenon. It has taken long for him to build his reputation.
And yes, politics is tough, very tough. It’s fiercely competitive and involves a lot of sacrifices on the personal front. It’s nowhere as simple as the armchair thinkers would believe it to be. It is easy to criticise the leaders but quite difficult to take over their roles. It would be better if Kejriwal tried to drill this into his followers. There are simply no short-cuts to political success.
He has made a good move by deciding to join politics. The onus is on him to make it less dirty and prove Anna wrong.