Arvind Kejriwal: From anti-corruption role model to thug

by Anant Rangaswami  Jan 22, 2014 11:20 IST

#Anna Hazare   #Arvind Kejriwal   #IIT   #India   #InMyOpinion   #Politics  

It’s been a depressing, frenetic slide downhill as Arvind Kejriwal has morphed from, arguably, India’s #1 role model to India’s #1 Known Delinquent.

The story began with the formation of India Against Corruption, with Anna Hazare capturing the lion’s share of the attention, and a loyal, committed, upright and zealous Arvind Kejriwal next to him.

As the news television cameras decided that there was nothing else deserving of coverage, we saw Anna Hazare, with Arvind Kejriwal by his side. Their roles were slowly getting clarified. Anna’s job was to fast, Kejriwal’s was to make the motivational speeches that spelt out why they were fasting, what they were demanding and how the movement would benefit the common man.

Both were pitch forked into role model-dom, but Anna’s was the tougher act to follow. Which one of us can even contemplate a fast (which threatened to become, and could have become) unto death?

Kejriwal during his two-day-long dharna. PTI

Kejriwal during his two-day-long dharna. PTI

It was so much easier to want to be Arvind Kejriwal. We were all wasting our lives selfishly, doing our jobs, earning money, taking care of our families, educating our children and so on. There was nothing we were doing without personal gain. Kejriwal, on the other hand, was fighting for better lives for all of us.

Not just fighting; he was fighting the establishment that comprised the scum of the earth; devious and corrupt politicians, administrators, civil servants, bureaucrats, judges, the police, even postmen. The sacrifice was larger as we learned that he had given up a plum, cushy job in the Income Tax department, that he was throwing away his IIT education. All these sacrifices for all of us.

Then came the break with Anna; it hardly mattered. Anna was but a ‘faster’. Kejriwal was the man with the fire in the belly who had the wherewithal and the guts and the spirit to win the battle for all of us.

And so was born Kejriwal the politician. The rest, till yesterday, is a quick history.

Kejriwal changed – for the worse. Changed in our eyes, because we have a certain picture of an archetypical activist (that he once was) and another picture of a politician (that he now is). Kejriwal the activist was forceful, committed, sacrificing; Kejriwal the politician is arrogant, impatient, selfish and anarchic.

As a politician, we expect him to be the politician that he wanted the Congress and BJP politicians to become: honest, respectful of laws and citizens’ rights, mindful of the pain and problems of the people of India.

In one week of mayhem in Delhi, Kejriwal shattered his own image, doing all the things the average politician – whom he so despised and derided – would do. Neglecting the law, bullying, browbeating and threatening all his detractors, including the media, throwing the capital of India into chaos, abusing the home minister of the country and even threatening to disrupt the most visible event that projects India as a united, powerful nation.

Do I want to be Arvind Kejriwal? Not by a country mile.

Even worse, do I want to vote for him? No. Now I’ve got a choice. I could pick from a whole range of thugs – from other parties as well.

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