Millennium Post

Anarchopacifism of CM Kejriwal

Henry David Thoreau, the harbinger of 19th century American civil disobedience, ecologism, anti-war, anti-racism and anti-slavery movements who went on to influence the likes of Leo Tolstoy, M K Gandhi, Martin Luther King, was also a self-proclaimed anarchist, individualist and transcendentalist advocating simple living and resistance to industrial civilisation. While comparing Arvind Kejriwal, the 45-year-old chief minister of Delhi, with the US philosopher-thinker might be a bit of an intellectual stretch, there is something about the latter’s practices that adopts and adapts the former’s ideas and moulds them for an Indian psyche. Perhaps Delhi, the seat of political power, and hitherto a bastion of selective outrage periodically vented by the Lutyens’ elite, is stunned and baulked at a CM holding a dharna, sticking to agitprop dramatisation of popular, populist sentiments and continuing with the strategies that he had used to sweep the December 2013 assembly polls. While AAP and its mass mobilisations have striking similarities with the Occupy Wall Street movement that rocked the US in 2010-11, what is indeed unprecedented is the elected chief minister not just giving his nod to what has been interpreted by entrenched political, corporate and media establishments as mob anarchy, but, in fact, actively ideating, orchestrating and presenting it. This is also a continuation of Kejriwal’s reorienting his policies and upgrading it from the apolitical Indian Against Corruption (with Anna Hazare as its Gandhian face) to the launch of the Aam Aadmi Party and taking up the challenge of translating a civil disobedience movement into a sweeping political phenomenon carried out in the frame of the aam aadmi network. Hence, even sceptics within the media and left-liberal intellectuals who had given their support to AAP’s rise and coming to power, are absolutely flabbergasted by Kejriwal’s street-fighting techniques of governance, which they summarily discredit as eyeball-catching shenanigan and simply populist theatre.

It is exactly here that they go gravely wrong and misunderstand the whole situation. Despite the ordinary racism now expressed in state law minister Somnath Bharti’s zealous midnight raid in the Capital’s Khirki Extension and forcing, unlawfully, the cops to arrest a bunch of African women ostensibly for participating in sex and drug trade, it is wrong to dismiss the AAP-driven political experimentation as a fad, a passing indulgence on the part of Delhi’s young and old. To say that will be to disregard and misread how Kejriwal and his band of intrepid men and women have changed the grammar of Indian politics, perhaps forever. It is true that Bharti’s allegations against the Ugandan and Nigerian nationals represent the regressive, commonplace, middleclass prejudices based on class, caste, religion and skin colour. But it is equally true that AAP is still work in progress and the likes of Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan and of course Arvind Kejriwal are striking at the heart of the ideological state apparatus that is law and order, media, among others, and expanding their ambit, one step at a time. Hence, the question is not exactly whether Kejriwal’s demand that Delhi police be brought under state jurisdiction that is the centrepoint of his political theatre: it is all about setting the agenda and attempting to break the longtime nexus between the political circles and the police force, each becoming an appendage for the other.
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