Millennium Post

The importance of being Kejriwal

My sixth sense, that gut feeling, or call it by any other appropriate term of your choice, tells me that Arvind Kejriwal’s  new political party will make a dent in Indian politics. If only the bare basics he’s promised are taken to the implementation stage, he holds a very strong chance of making it to the hot seat here, in New Delhi. And those basics are – none of those frills in the form and shape of bungalows or security or big bodied cars for the elected  members. Along with these, complete transparency for who is funding whom, in the election campaigns.

Yes, it will be a great leap forward to visit your MLA sahib’s home, without getting frisked or just shown the door or quite simply thrown out as unwarranted pests. In fact, the moment you can take your elected representative for granted, that he or she is there listening to your problems, your democratic rights seem intact. Otherwise, what’s the point of this useless

In today’s prevailing system, the political representatives are not just out of sight and out of reach, but out of control too. Oh, yes, coal minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal uttered bitter truths related to ageing and the connected fall out. And  didn’t utter them in the confines of a frilly bedroom, but right there on a gaudy dais in full public view!  Maybe the country’s sexologists will be seen rushing to his rescue, trying controlling rising libido!  Maybe, by presenting him copies of Kamasutra.

Arvind Kejriwal, in the last few weeks, has made some very shrewd moves. The very fact he decided to part ways with Anna and  Ramdev, showed his political maturity and the sense to see the very futility of  tilting towards the Right Wing forces. Also, much before that, the fact that he and associates had targeted not just the Congress but also the BJP. Again relaying a  significant factor –  of  some sort of a secular fabric. The very  fact that Prashant and Shanti Bhushan are  two core members of his team had always held high that basic hope – that the  basic secular streak will always  be there in his political outfit. Why I’m saying this with some amount of  confidence is because I have heard this father son duo speak at various platforms – that is, years before they’d joined this movement against corruption.

The one thought that strikes every Gandhi Jayanti day, hovered around this Gandhi Jayanti too: what if Mahatma Gandhi’s  children and grandchildren had joined active politics… maybe, then we’d seen better days!

And as the day stretched on, towards  late evening I ‘d sat reading what Khushwant had to say about him in his book, Absolute Khushwant, ‘In the study in my cottage in Kasauli, I have two pictures of the people I  admire most – Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. I admire Bapu Gandhi more than any other man. I became a Gandhi bhakta at a young age. I first saw Bapu when I was six or seven years old, when I was studying in Modern School. He had come on an visit. All of us children – there were very few students in the school those days – sat on the ground in the front row. He bent down and tugged my uniform playfully. ‘
Beta, yeh kapda kahan ka hai?’
, he asked.

‘Vilayati,’ I said with pride.

He  told me gently, ‘Yeh apne desh ka hota toh achha hota , nahin?’

Soon after, I started wearing khadi. My mother used to spin khaddar, so it was easy. I continued wearing khaddar for many years. Before I went to the London to attend university,  I took some khaddar to our tailor because I had been told I would need a  proper English suit. The tailor  laughed and told my father, who asked me to stop being a khotta!

Khushwant  again  focuses on Mahatma Gandhi in the chapter on partition. In fact, he highlights the very fact that it was Mahatma alone who seemed to comprehend the very seriousness of the situation – partition and those dangerous aftermaths and offshoots it would bring along with it. I quote Khushwant on this – ‘The only person who did seem to comprehend the very seriousness of partition and all that followed was  Mahatma Gandhi. He did not take part in any of the independence celebrations. He remained quiet and even went on a fast. When anti-Pakistan  feelings were at a fever pitch and the Indian government refused to honour its pledge to pay Pakistan Rs 55 crore, he went on a fast, forcing Patel and Nehru to keep their word. He knew he was asking for trouble but he did not give it a  second thought. He told his secretary Pyarelal:  ‘Today I find myself alone. Even Sardar.

‘[Patel] and Jawaharlal Nehru think that my reading of the situation is wrong and peace is sure to return if the partition is agreed upon… I shall perhaps not be alive to witness it, but should the evil I apprehend overtake India and its independence be imperiled, let it not be said that Gandhi was a party to India’s vivisection.’

Humra Quraishi is a writer and a columnist.
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