With 'black money' bombshell, Kejriwal skates on thin ice

Just in time for Diwali, Arvind Kejriwal and his tireless band of flame throwers have set off yet another firecracker - and this time, they've picked on that perennial theme in Indian politics - of black money hoards stashed in 'Swiss banks'.

It's a theme that everyone from Baba Ramdev to LK Advani to Subramanian Swamy have repeatedly flagged at various points of time, focussing in particular on the feeble efforts to retrieve ill-gotten assets from their offshore havens. Even the UPA government had in 2009 responded to the growing clamour to go after the black money by promising to initiate efforts to retrieve the hoards within 100 days of its return to power that year. Of course, since then the government has been buried under an avalanche of scams of it's own making, and except for Baba Ramdev's periodic exertions, the matter had gone off the media mindspace.

Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan's press conference today momentarily brings the subject back to the front pages.

 With black money bombshell, Kejriwal skates on thin ice

Is Kejriwal skating on thin ice with his latest set of allegations? Naresh Sharma/ Firstpost

Again, much of what Kejriwal and  put out at their press conference today has been in the public domain. But then Kejriwal's real skill, today as much as in the past, has been to " curate" all the relevant information and connect the dots to paint an unchanging picture of a system that is corrupt at its core, one that rewards and in turn thrives on crony capitalism.

In that cause, he invoked some big names - of billionaire barons and Congress politicians - whose names figured in the list of account holders secured from European  governments, and who had been given a free ride by the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to the extent that no prosecution had been initiated against them.

Merely by raking up old facts and suspicions today, Kejriwal and Bhushan have yet again turned the heat on the Congress by showing up it's foot-dragging - even when information on foreign money holdings, otherwise hard to secure, had virtually landed in the government's lap.

But other than that, Kejriwal and Bhushan are skating on thin ice, given the insufficient proof that they have mustered and the fact that they are increasingly making polemical political points.. And to the extent that they make over-the-top allegations against international banks and big business barons, they are at risk in ways that they may not be with their drive-by allegations against home-grown political parties.

Kejriwal's game plan is manifestly clear: he has become a heat-seeking missile, focussing his attention on the many pillars of crony capitalism that hold up our venally corrupt system. But his rhetoric is increasingly becoming rather more shrill and borderline hysterical.. As a political strategy, it may have worked well thus far, but it may be coming close to it's sell- by date.

Updated Date: Nov 09, 2012 16:57:50 IST



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