* Subject: Kejriwals Delhi Dharna Kejriwals Delhi Dharna This is not
anarchy, Mr Home Minister, This is Revolution By Avay Shukla, Retired IAS *
What we are witnessing in Delhi today is historic for the first time
since Independence a legitimate political party has refused to play by the
rules that all political parties in India have battened on for sixty-five
years; for the first time a State Government has taken on the Central
Government at its own doorstep; for the first time a Chief Minister and his
entire Cabinet are sitting in protest in their own capital; for the first
time their own Police force is ranged against them in their thousands.
The immediate reason for this may be the demand for the suspension of five
Police officials, but the actual reason is more basic, and fundamental to
any democracy accountability of the rulers to the ruled.
The rulers are not just the politicians and the bureaucrats they are also
the larger constituency that benefits from the present status quo: the
industrialists, the TV and news organisations, the cognoscenti, the
glitterati, the South Delhi socialites, the intelligentsia that makes a
nice living by appearing nightly on TV panel discussions: in short, all
those who are comfortable with the status quo.
They have, with the assistance of disgruntled elements like Kiran Bedi and
Captain Gopinath, unleashed a veritable barrage of abuse and condemnation
against Kejriwal and his party over the last week, terming him a Dictator,
Anarchist, Chief Protestor, Law-breaker and so on.
It is because they feel genuinely threatened by the forces that the AAP has
unleashed, the ethical standards that it has prescribed and demonstrated,
the personal examples that its leaders have shown. Because they know that
if these paradigms become the norm of a new India then the sand castles
that these privileged reside in shall come crumbling down in no time.
And so they accuse Kejriwal of not following prescribed conventions,
protocol or procedure and thus encouraging anarchy. Let us look at just
three of these alleged transgressions:
1. Law Minister Somnath Bharti asking for a meeting of judicial Officers of
Delhi. What is improper about this? Isnt the judiciary a part of the
government funded, staffed, appointed by the state.
Yes, it is operationally independent of the Government (as it should be)
but it is certainly not a holy cow whose performance cannot be questioned,
or monitored, by the people of this country through their elected
representatives. The judiciary is meant to serve the people, just as the
bureaucracy is, and it cannot have internal accountability only. An elected
Government has to have the right to review its performance, especially
given the pathetic state of the disposal of cases in courts.
In my view Mr. Bharti was within his rights to take a meeting of judicial
Officers to assess the shortcomings of the system (which is the first step
to removing these shortcomings). Yes, he could have routed the request
through the High Court, but this was a trivial error and certainly not the
grievous violation that the media made it out to be. To the contrary, the
Law Minister should be lauded for his initiative in seeking to address the
issue instead of washing his hands of it as ALL LAW MINISTERS OF THIS
COUNTRY HAVE DONE SO FAR, as if the collapse of the judicial redressal
system was no concern of the Government!
2. Subsidies on water and power to small consumers in Delhi (something for
which Kejriwal has been contemptuously branded a populist).
The Central Government dishes out more than 160000 crores worth of subsidy
every year on just three schemes (Mid-day Meals, MNREGA and Sarv Shiksha
Abhiyan). Just about every State gives subsidies on water and power.
Heres something Mr. Arnab Goswami and his kind should consider: the Golf
Club in New Delhi which has about 4000 privileged members (all of whom are
now arraigned against Kejriwal) has been given 250 acres of the most
expensive real estate in the country worth 60000 crores for a paltry lease
of about Rs. 15 lakhs per annum.
The annual return on Rs. 60000 crores should be at the very least Rs. 6000
crores: in effect, what this means is that every member of the Golf Club is
being given a subsidy of Rs. 1.50 crores every year! The same is the case
with the Gymkhana Club, another watering hole for the rich, the famous, and
the now scared.
According to the latest report of the RBI, the total non-performing assets
(NPA) of the Banks in India is more than Rs. 1.60 lakh crores.
NPA is just a euphemism for what the Vijay Mallyas and the Captain
Gopinaths of the world owe to the aam aadmi (and refuse to pay) while
flying all over the world in their private jets and pontificating in TV
studios on the correct form of governance. Is it populism if indulged in
by Kejriwal, and entitlement and economic surge when practiced by
3. Somnath Bhartis (Kejriwals Law Minister) mid-night visit to Khirkee
village has generated so much misinformation, ignorance of the law, reverse
racism and hypocritical harangues that it is sickening. Shorne of all this,
what does the entire incident amount to? Merely this: a Minister, in
response to complaints by residents (which are on record, as is the Police
inaction on them for months) of a locality personally visits the spot and
asks the police to take immediate action by raiding the building where
illegal activities are taking place. The police refuse and insult the
Minister. This is the essence of the matter.All the rest search warrants,
lack of female police, racism, urinating in public, cavity search(!) [the
latest addition to the shrinking vocabulary of Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi] etc.-
are red herrings and a smoke screen which no doubt the judicial Inquiry
Commission shall see through.
How was the Minister wrong in asking the police to take action? Is it a
Ministers job to simply sit in an air-conditioned office and write on
files? (a question which Kejriwal has asked and to which we are still
waiting for an enlightened response from Ms. Barkha Dutt and gang).
Does the police require a search warrant to enter a place where they have
reason to believe that illegal activities are going on? Really, Mr. Salve?
If so, then how do you explain their barging into the house in the Batla
House encounter and shooting three people, WITHOUT A SEARCH WARRANT? Or
their constant nocturnal forays into the poor whore-houses of GB Road
whenever they are short of spending money?
No, sir, the opposition to Kejriwal from the BJP and the Congress, from the
Arnab Goswamis, Rajdeep Sardesais, the Barkha Dutts, the Kiran Bedis, from
the Editors of English dailies, from the captains of industry, from the
Single Malts and Bloody Marys of Gymkhana and Golf Clubs, does not stem
from any illegality or impropriety on his part, or from any ideological
differences between them.
It stems from their complete and total failure to comprehend what Kejriwal
is and what he stands for. It stems also from the deep social divide
between the upper crust of society( who are happy with the status quo where
their money, power and contacts can ensure them a comfortable life) and the
masses below them who have to daily bear the brunt of the system inspired
corruption, harassment, inconvenience and indignity that the present
dispensation guarantees them.
This (hitherto unacknowledged and invisible) divide becomes clear when we
compare the editorial slants of the English and Hindi channels in the
coverage of the ongoing protests: the former are virulently anti AAP and
only pop up panelists who support that view, while the latter appear to be
more understanding of what AAP is trying to do.
Those who are denouncing Kejriwal for being an autocrat, anarchist,
activist and for protesting at Raisina Road are missing the most obvious
point of his movement THAT KEJRIWAL WILL NOT PLAY BY THEIR RULES ANY MORE.
As they say in Las Vegas you cant beat the house, because the dice are
loaded against you. Everyone wants him to play with their set of dice
which they mysteriously call the Constitution and the CRPC!) but Kejriwal
wants to play with his own dice, hence the confrontation.
They want him to pass a joint resolution of the Assembly for bringing the
police under the Delhi govt.-hes smart enough to see that the resolution
will be thrown into the same waste paper basket where presumably the
Ordinance on protecting convicted MPs was consigned by Rahul Gandhi.
They want him to be a good boy and take his dharna to Jantar Mantar where
all civilised protests begin and inevitably end, while the govt. of the day
can get on with its gerrymandering uninterrupted-he knows that unless he
disrupts the comfortable existence of the bourgeois he may as well relieve
himself in the Yamuna for all the difference he will make.
They want him to sit in the Secretariat and be guided by his bureaucrats
and lose all touch with reality- he wont fall for this Pavlovian routine.
They desperately want him to become one of them, red light, siren,
gun-toting commandos, Lutyens bungalow and all- he knows that if he falls
for this he loses his USP and becomes just an intern in this hoary club of
They want him to follow the script co-authored by all the political parties
of the day, not one excluded, because this script contains an agreed-upon
plot, wherein politicians make noises but dont act against each other,
wherein corruption is just a sound-bite, where dynastic succession is a
silently accepted sine qua non, where no one is interested in finding out
whether the hundreds of proved Swiss bank accounts contain anything other
than Swiss chocolates Kejriwal, however, wants to write his own script
with substantial inputs from the aam aadmi, not from the Ambanis or the
Radias or the Shobhna Bhartias.
They want him to talk about corruption but not do anything about it,
something Manish Tewaris poetic flair would term willing to wound but
afraid to strike, an attitude as old as Chanakya and Kautilya which offers
all of us a catharsis via the good offices of Arnab Goswami and little
else- but Kejriwal is no respecter of Machiavelli or Chanakya, his
vocabulary is limited because he can only call a spade a spade, he is
colour blind because he can only see in black and white (the shades of
greys can be left for the likes of Manu Singhvi), and therefore he insists
on striking, not just talking.
Is there any cause for surprise, therefore, at why the present
dispensation, both in and out of government, is rattled by this five foot
four inch insect from Ghaziabad? He is neither fish nor fowl, he defies
The establishment has made the supreme mistake of trying to counter him by
quoting the rules of the game (loaded in the formers favour, naturally!)
they are past masters of- but Kejriwal has changed the rules, and now they
dont know how to control him or neutralise him.
For the time being only Kejriwal knows the new rules, and he is springing
them on the carpet baggers one by one, catching them by surprise all the
Forget the English TV channels-they rarely get anything right. Forget the
Manish Tewaris, the Kiran Bedis, the FICCI spokespersons, the Minakshi
Lekhis- they are either scared witless or rank opportunists. What they all
do have in common, however, is that they have failed to see how the common
man-the aam aadmi-are gathering behind this dimunitive man with the
The sincerity, integrity and commitment of this man is phenomenal, his
capacity to harness the anger and frustration of the people is limitless.
His defiance of accepted conventions and interpretations is not anarchy
it is nothing short of a revolution. When the people have had enough of
injustice, callousness and indignity, they will not play by the rules of
the rulers-they will make new rules.
The French Revolution would not have happened if the existing rules had
been followed. Tehrir Square would not have happened if everyone swore by
the old rules. Changing the rules, Mr. Home Minister, is not anarchy it
is the beginning of a peoples revolution.
The sooner we realise this the less pain in the transition, the less
violence. No matter how the stand-off in Delhi ends capitulation by the
Home Minister and the Police, withdrawal of support by the Congress,
imposition of Presidents Rule, police violence on the protesters and their
eviction one thing is certain: Kejriwal is going nowhere.
He, and his paradigms, are here to stay and haunt our rulers. With his
uncanny understanding of the pulse of the people he has re-written the
rules of politics and governance.
There are now only two options Kejriwal has left the ruling class either
they change, or the people will change them.
Avay Shukla retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December
2010. He is a keen environmentalist and loves the mountains- he has made
them his home.
On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 3:01 PM, Shikha Jain