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Is Arvind Kejriwal dangerous for India? Pran Kurup

April 18, 2014

Guest Post by PRAN KURUP

Who is more dangerous for India – Arvind Kejriwal or Narendra Modi? This is a question that India needs to answer. But a recent article titled ‘Arvind Kejriwal: The most dangerous man in India’ has ventured to supply a one-sided answer to this question. The title is as catchy as it is misleading if not subversive. The ensuing ‘analysis’ is sadly not borne out by facts but relies on obfuscation and rhetoric. The tragic outcome is that many pertinent facts have been buried beneath the rubble of unsubstantiated allegations and sinister accusations. On the whole the article is an anti-Kejriwal diatribe disguised as an intellectual treatise.

While conferring on Modi the respectable halo of a “firebrand Hindu nationalist”, the writer goes on to indulge in pure speculation and sweeping generalizations about Kejriwal and other AAP leaders.

Here are some samples:

“Kejriwal spent his time in office preening for the cameras.”

“The last thing the country needs is a charismatic populist who portrays foreign investors as exploiters and Indian businessmen as crooks.”

“Journalists who question this shooting-from-the-hip style are immediately dismissed as being on the take.”

“India is better off with Citizen Kejriwal as a maverick on the sidelines rather than as a serious contender for power.”

Every cloud has a silver lining, though. The writer rightly observes that AAP has changed the grammar of Indian politics. However, while conceding that Kejriwal, unlike Modi and Rahul Gandhi, is not a career politician, and describing him as a man of merit, perseverance and raw courage, the writer goes on to add that Kejriwal’s “economic ideas are a blueprint for disaster.” This criticism is prompted by the fact that Kejriwal halved the power tariffs in Delhi and supplied subsidized water to residents. He adds, “He had claimed, without evidence, that private power companies were cooking the books to gouge consumers.” Perhaps, the author should rely on more authentic research before arriving at such conclusions. The AAP government had demanded an audit of the power companies and got it approved within five days, something the BJP and Congress governments could not accomplish in years.

The writer mentions that Kejriwal had passed two tough national level competitive examinations – for entrance to the prestigious IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) and later for the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) job. He agrees that the Jan Lokpal and Swaraj are two “big ideas” for which Kerjiwal deserves credit. Yet he pulls the carpet from beneath the feet of the fledgling AAP by adding a loose observation that ‘India’s gargantuan democracy…..doesn’t usually favor newcomers.” Again, he is completely off the mark. The truth is that Indian democracy has a history of making dramatic choices. It would do well to remember how the DMK came to power in Tamilnadu in 1967 simultaneously winning all the 25 Parliament seats the party had contested, how MGR led the newly formed AIADMK to power in the seventies, and how NTR burst upon the Andhra scene in March 1982 and swept the polls in January 1983.The most recent instance of the AAP’s spectacular success in the Delhi Assembly election is only a case of history repeating itself.

AAP candidates have filed their nominations from over 400 seats (a record in Indian politics) without “the organization, rural name recognition and grassroots support outside Delhi.” Therein lies the beauty of Indian democracy. It echoes what Arvind Kejriwal has been admitting all along, “If the people want it, the candidates will rise from among the people irrespective of organizational structure and resources”.

The writer says, “Despite frequently attacking Modi for using private jets, Kejriwal hopped onto one himself in early March to return to Delhi in time for a speech at a high-profile media conclave.” conveniently ignoring the critical fact that Kejriwal disclosed who arranged for his flight while the source of funds for Modi’s incessant jet setting campaign trips on corporate sponsored jets remains a mystery.

The writer opines “Countries became rich before they became clean…” implying that we should focus on getting rich and corruption will automatically fade away – a variation of the failed US Republican theory of trickledown economics perhaps? Please, thank you, but no thank you. Nowhere has the AAP argued that we should stop growing the economy while fixing corruption. In fact, a survey conducted by TOI showed a noticeable decrease in corruption even during the brief AAP rule in Delhi.

The writer seems to be particularly irked by Kerjiwal’s decision to run against Modi in Varansai. If the so-called Modi wave is in the ascendant, why should anybody worry about a puny challenger like Kejriwal? Besides, why should Modi contest from two constituencies?

Most importantly, the writer has little to say about Modi completely avoiding the media. If Modi has such a stellar record why won’t he speak to the media? Why won’t he take up Kejriwal’s offer for an open debate? In this day and age when communication technologies are revolutionizing the world does India need a leader who won’t speak to them, a leader who has nothing to say on the critical issues du jour – article 377 , oil and gas price, jobs, farmer suicides, FDI in retail, to name a few.

The AAP leadership has articulated that India’s number one enemy is corruption, followed by dynasty politics, communal elements and criminals in parliament – none of which seems to have caught the writer’s attention. If this makes Arvind Kejriwal dangerous for India, most Indians would say, “so be it”.

Who is more dangerous – a down to earth, outspoken, fearless leader or one who gallavants on corporate sponsored jets from one snazzy campaign venue to another with a carefully crafted public image fueled by unaccounted PR expenses?

This is a decision that the people of India will soon have to make. Let’s wait and see.

Pran Kurup is an entrepreneur, technology enthusiast and keen follower of politics. He writes a popular blog http://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/outsideedge/

30 Comments leave one →
  1. Radha permalink
    April 18, 2014 5:26 PM

    Well done…a measured and mature response on AAP and Kejriwal to a hysterical outpouring. It is surprising though how many people feel that we need to grow economically first and worry about corruption after that. Why are so many Indians happy to move forward with the status quo, i.e. a growth and not development oriented model. I am waiting for India to surprise us this election!

    • Kuldip Sidhu permalink
      May 4, 2014 10:52 PM

      if growth is not translating to delelopment and uplift of society, it means that benefitis are going to few. Do India need that growth. I don’t think so..

  2. Liman permalink
    April 18, 2014 8:14 PM

    Sadanand Dhume is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

    Let me explain, American Enterprise Institute is an American gang of right wing disinformationists. It appears this article was published on Washington Post before being published on Gulf News.

    An expat Indian American right wing nutjob employed by an American right wing propaganda organization publishing his predictable screed in a right wing propaganda organ like Washington Post and then a news site probably owned by polygamous arab princes.

    Now this is what I call international cooperation among rightwing maniacs. In the age of Modi, we can expect more such things.

  3. kaleem kawaja permalink
    April 18, 2014 9:00 PM

    People who are describing Kejriwal as “dangerous, anarchic, publicity seeker” who is unfit for the Indian democracy, are mostly from the generation that has grown used to long established political parties and the abuses (corruption, communalism, dynasty politics, authoritarianism) that they perpetrate on the nation. These folks think that if you want democracy, you have to pay this price. To them acting boldly and quickly is “dangerous and anarchic” . The inequalities perpetrated on the poor people who live below poverty line, the working poor who live in slums, tribal people who are suffering massive injustice in the name of quick and big industrialization, the poor among Dalits/religious minorities, the fourth class Indians who work as domestic servants, laborers,drivers etc do not bother this establishment class.

    In contrast, AAP is giving voice to the relatively younger generation that refuses to accept not only these wrongs but also believes that you do not have to pay such a high price for democracy and pluralism. At the same time they are not leftists and believe in the free enterprise economics. In the last few years the older generation (rich and poor) accepted the failure of the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement to pass a tough Lokpal bill in parliament, and to do something meaningful to curb high level corruption and crony capitalism. Some from that older generation fell victim to BJP who tried to exploit IAC to target Congress party, while ignoring the large scale corruption and crony capitalism in BJP_ruled states and in BJP’s national movements. IAC volunteers like Kiran Bedi and Ramdev have sided with BJP in its attempt to use the movement to gain power.

    It was the relatively younger generation from IAC (Kejriwal, Yadav, Bhushan, Sisodia, Sanjay Singh, Shazia Ilmi, and others) that refused to accept the helplessness of IAC movement to address the core issues. Instead of continuing as an NGO like many other excellent social change NGOs, they rightly decided that improving the political system (rajneeti) is the only viable means to accomplish the goals of IAC. Of-course this is a hugely difficult task and a very high mountain to climb. And with parliamentary election approaching in just a few months!

    Surely AAP was not ready for the parliamentary election. Even though people all over the country loved their bold attempt and success in the Delhi election and wanted them to emulate it nationwide. One of AAP’s most remarkable successes is being able to persuade the many do-gooder social activists throughout the country to take part in the parliamentary election. Win or loose in the current election, these stars will provide much needed juice and horsepower to the AAP movement to go forward as a nationwide movement to cleanse the political system of the country in the future. Indeed the joint efforts and collective voices of these diverse activists could make this movement into a powerful national movement, akin to India’s freedom movement.

    Presently, AAP is spread extremly thin and are suffering from acute shortages of time, organization throughout the country, funds, leaders, policy formulations etc. That has caused them to make some mistakes that the two big parties Congress and BJP, and their groupies and crony capitalists. have jumped right on to malign AAP. Because they feel most threatened with the meteoric rise of AAP’s vision as something that can actually be put into practice. Also being spread thin, AAP has made a few mistakes.

    For instance: Kejriwal’s dharna in Delhi soon after becoming CM and backing Smonath Bharti’s impulsive actions in Khirki village; putting up 424 candidates nationwide instead of limiting it to about 300; resigning from Delhi government in extreme hurry without giving sufficient explanation to the public; Kejriwal’s rash comment that he will jail the errant media personnel.

    AAP is an idea whose time has definitely come and the people in the nation at large, young, middle-aged and old alike, are definitely very enthusiastic about the AAP movement. Except those who have vested interest in forcing muscle politics, exploiting the fault lines of religion & caste, letting the robber barons and crony capitalists exploit the nation. This battle is going to be intense and long drawn. But there is no way the nation can avoid this battle.

  4. sanjay mehta permalink
    April 18, 2014 9:59 PM

    All those saying that they liked AAP earlier, but not now, are basically Modi bhakts.

    Only Modi bhakts got the shock of their lives, when AAP decided to target Modi for corruption. As long as AAP was fighting Congress, & limiting itself to Delhi, it was OK for them.

    Some people are saying, that if you are a real gujarati, then vote for Modi. I still fail to understand, how a real Gujarati means a Modi.

    Infact Gujarat has been a relatively prosperous state, had good industrial progress, good women security record (not because of good policing) and good agriculture production, than most other states in india, and this despite the massive amount of corruption by previous congress governments, & their divide & rule policy for communities.

    Let us not be fooled to believe that good roads & BRTS, equals good governance. If this is our understanding about good governance, then it is a pity, and reflection of living under decades of shoddy governance, such that, we now cannot have any better expectations from our governments.

    BJP has bettered the congress record of corruption & communal division.

    Agriculture progress is poorer, or at best remains comparable with previous years, despite a lot of tweaking of data to make favourable presentations. Industrial growth continues to be at comparable levels to pre-BJP years.

    However growing massively, is the amount of corruption, rising debt on the state government (the highest in the country), the pollution from chemical industries, the dying rivers, the rise of crony capitalists, the decline of public health, farmers committing suicides, poor education, and a frightening & clear division of society along religious lines.

    But if Gujarat still continues to have vibrancy & prosperity, it is not because of any Modi, or the Congress earlier, but because of it’s vibrant, enterprising, peace loving, god fearing, & culturally rich, people.

    The state government, has cleverly tried to appropriate the efforts of it’s people, crediting the benefits accrued, due, to one individual – Modi.

    We need a honest government, not a stable government.

    We want our corporators, MLA’s & MP’s to be on their toes, they should not be under the misleading security of a stable government. They must realize, that it is not enough to come to public, once in 5 years, seek votes, & then loot the country for 5 years. We want them to be accountable. We want them to work for us, not for enriching the crony capitalists.

    We need Swaraj.

  5. rakesh permalink
    April 18, 2014 10:07 PM

    The writer seems ill literate bigot or downright sold to corrupt cronies. He has disrespected 3 crores delhites who gave AK and his new party 28 seats.

    These so called intellectuals are more dangerous to society, who have really facilitated the graft culture and corrupt politicians to thrive and enjoyed on their doles.

    • April 19, 2014 1:30 AM

      Rakesh, plz don’t call others illiterate first lay your facts right. Delhi only had 1.23 cr voters in assembly election. God know where you got this 3cr figure from. Out of that only 23.5 Lac people voted for AAP. 27.6 Lac people voted for BJP. So going forward with your “disrespected” argument. BJP has disrespected 4 Lac people more than AAP.

  6. April 18, 2014 11:59 PM

    Very Well Written Pran!

  7. April 20, 2014 12:01 PM

    http://www.niticentral.com/2014/04/18/more-than-350-criminal-cases-against-two-aap-candidates-in-6th-phase-213586.html
    I am a student and I have been following all the articles in Kalifa to get a better idea as to who should I vote for. I am leaning towards AAP. Recently I read this article which says that 2 candidates from AAP have 380 criminal cases (as per ADR/MyNeta). Despite Niticentral (article source) being a BJP propaganda site , in this case they don’t seem to be outright lying. The cases do seem to exist. But something seems off . Can someone explain why AAP would give such individuals memebership and whether those criminal cases fake ? Any help will be deeply appreciated !

    • tantrix_99@yahoo.com permalink
      April 20, 2014 9:44 PM

      If you look at most of these charges, these are all fake ones filed by the government against troublemakers (read pesky activists who protest against dams and nuclear plants and forcible displacement of people). Use your judgment.

    • Ann Delorme. permalink
      April 20, 2014 10:09 PM

      One of the AAP candidates from Tamil Nadu with 380 cases against him is an anti-nuclear activist. The cases against activists are generally minor cases of unlawful assembly, disruption leading to vandalism, defying prohibitory orders and such like.

    • Mohanraj permalink
      April 20, 2014 11:31 PM

      Hi, he and his colleagues belong to the Peoples Movement Against Nuclear Energy and thus, all these false cases. To hear his views, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XthH6_Iy4oE

  8. April 21, 2014 1:02 AM

    Arvind Kejriwal is NOT a danger for India.

  9. April 21, 2014 1:02 AM

    The kind of people naturally drawn to Kejriwal and to the party he helped to found are the people who think that things can be done in India unproblematic ally if there is honesty and openness. It’s time has come…the AAP is appealing to millions of people in this country ready to take part….

  10. April 21, 2014 1:22 AM

    Watched Rajat Sharma’s Aap ki Aadalat where Mr. Narendra Modi came as a guest last week. What’s surprising is that since the beginning of the episode show host seems to have a complete buy-in with NaMo’s philosophy and has hardly asked any questions relating to the scams that have happened under NaMo’s sarkar. One would expect talks on some controversial issues like Gujarat riots, countless land scams, reckless spendings, fisheries and chara glotala, etc. but no light was thrown in these areas.

    With a blind fan following Modi was able to put up a great show but with some questions remaining unanswered is it just to select NaMo is our next PM? Why don’t we ever get to hear his stance on controversial topics???

    Vote for a transparent and just party, vote for change..vote for AAP!

  11. Y Srinivas permalink
    April 21, 2014 10:40 AM

    The original article by Sadanand Dhume makes some preposterous claims such as “a country needs to grow rich before it gets a cleaner polity”. A political system can evolve in many different ways, not necessarily the way western democracies evolved. India is lagging behind mainly on account of corruption – both petty as well as high-end corruption. If corruption at lower levels has made it well-nigh impossible to run a business or even lead one’s life honestly, corruption at higher levels has given rise to phenomenal inequities either through the earlier permit-raj system or the present curse of crony capitalism. AAP has identified the problems correctly and is putting up a brave fight with meager resources. It is up to us, the citizens, to rise up in support for a reform in the political system.

  12. Shashanka permalink
    April 21, 2014 11:30 PM

    Dear Pran Kurup,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. Arvind Kejriwal is a man in a hurry – and with good reason. In the past year or so, he has succeeded in changing the very fundamentals of political discourse in our country. And also succeeded in making the tired and jaded aam aadmi sit up and take notice That here was someone so far apart that you needed a paradigm shift (pardon the hyperbole, but I couldn’t think of another simile !) to fully appreciate his vision and his antagonism to the status quo. I wish him God speed and success in his admittedly Herculean task of cleaning out the Augean stables

  13. bala permalink
    April 22, 2014 12:55 PM

    Arvind Kejriwal is a phenomenal fighter who took on the biggest people in India and challenged the present status quo of corruption in politics… just for this he deserves a place in history.. I take my hat off to this great guy and wish him all the best in his endeavors..

  14. militant_antitheist permalink
    April 24, 2014 12:09 PM

    Well there are 2 issues on which I agree with this BJP hired writer “Sadanand Dhume”. First is the idiocy of subsidy regime. Most of the subsidies are targeted for middle classes, we need to cut down on these subsidies (subsidies for cooking gas,etc.) and spend that money on something which actually helps poor, i.e., education and healthcare spending . Development economists like Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen have been calling for this for a long time. Second issue of corruption. Look at the list by transparency international, the countries at top (least corrupt countries) are generally the ones with high levels of income and high HDI. If you compare India to other countries at same socio-economic levels, India is not extraordinarily corrupt. India falls in the “expected” zone. Sure high level political corruption might be reduced to some extent if AAP comes to power, but low level corruption won’t go away. Corruption is a symptom, the main disease is we have a “sick” society, we need a social revolution along with the political one to make a real dent.

    • Shashanka permalink
      April 24, 2014 9:37 PM

      I wont go into semantic hair-splitting about high/low levels of corruption. Nor the idiocy or otherwise of subsidies as advised by economic pundits. But yes, we are in dire need of both a, social as well as a political revolution. As for the social revolution, it is very much here and is an ongoing phenomena as any healthy citizen will vouch for. And the political revolution has just started in earnest – I can only hope that it leads to a more evolved and healthier polity. As I was reading somewhere, it appears that our species has reached an evolutionary bottleneck and to me our country is a perfect example of this state. I sincerely hope that Arvind Kejriwal and his vision can contribute to finding a way out.

    • Tejaswi permalink
      April 27, 2014 4:28 AM

      My dear militant, I hope you are right. But when you say low corruption, do you also mean to say “Not the way I got my driving license”?.. oh, that was personal…. Do you mean to say, those land revenue officers who make up for it in little known revenues and you say, so what, better than standing in a queue for ten days…
      Or that little constable on Dahisar Check naka who takes 1 rupee from each truck driver, ridiculously”? Only, when we laugh, some wiser head tells us, hey, listen, that is the 400th truck that passed by today.. so one rupee is not such a bad thing…
      Idiocy of subsidies has indeed let this country grow a population of idiots, but I hope we are not one of that silly tribe.
      You know, I am really confused when you mention evolutionary bottleneck. I wonder if you are mentioning my addiction for cheap IMFL. You are so right, they need to make those necks wider. Semantic hair-splitting is certainly not your forte, but I hope it is a little loftier and higher than the hair you picked to split.

  15. Mr. Fruit permalink
    April 27, 2014 1:05 PM

    Excellent response to the original article. Clearly, the original article is meant as an anti-Kejriwal diatribe and this article does a neat job of shedding light on unsubstantiated claims of Mr. Dhume, the author of the original article. However, Mr. Kurup conveniently ignores one line – “It assumes that a new layer of bureaucracy, staffed by officials miraculously immune to bribery, will solve a problem caused by too much bureaucracy in the first place.” Despite my support to the AAP, I agree with this comment by the Mr. Dhume. Arvind Kejriwal seems to be blinded by his steadfast loyalty to his original idea of the Lokpal. Adding another layer of bureaucracy will only add to corruption. Heck, only if the current officials weren’t corrupt, we wouldn’t need a Lokpal. To miraculously except Lokpal to be immune to corruption is stupid. Overall, Mr. Kurup does an excellent job at pointing the flaws in the original article.

    • Aam Aadmi permalink
      April 27, 2014 9:46 PM

      @Mr. Fruit, Lokpal is meant to be a deterrent, when today there is none for being corrupt. Unless people know there are consequences to being corrupt it is unlikely anything will change. Its a misunderstanding/myth that somehow Lokpal is going to find “a new layer of bureaucracy, staffed by officials miraculously immune to bribery” No one ever made such a claim. At the same time, clean up of the bureaucracy will be required to phase out the compromised officials which is exactly what the AAP govt. had to do in the Delhi Jal Board and the Anti-corruption unit in Delhi when AAP was in power.

    • Shashanka permalink
      April 28, 2014 6:21 AM

      Dear Mr. Fruit,

      Much as I am tempted to agree with you, I am reminded of an old adage my grandfather used to quote in Sanskrit when we were young, and were being, as they say, “Boys will be boys”. It went thus – “Uttam maddham latthaoo shadam”.

      Much later we understood the implication, which in essence meant ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’. The assumption being that we are in essence animals, just a bit further up the evolutionary scale.

      And just as animals (even the big cats!) can be trained (to follow the straight and narrow path!) using corporal punishment as a form of discipline, similarly humans too.

      The other adage that comes to mind in this connection (endemic corruption) says – Speak softly but carry a big stick. I believe both are equally effective in curbing refractory natures.
      And yes, over the years, I have lost faith in these new philosophies which advocate gentle and persuasive techniques to teach criminals the error of their ways.

      It does not work (as evident from the exponential growth in rapes of children and other violent crimes). On the other hand, swift and comprehensive punishment over the short term seems to work like a charm in instilling a change in social attitudes, including the attitude to endemic corruption.

      • Mr. Fruit permalink
        April 28, 2014 2:14 PM

        @Aam Aadmi – Thank you for your comment. I’d like to highlight a portion and analyze it further. “today there is none (no deterrent) for being corrupt”; our law enforcement agencies and judicial systems were created to be a deterrent. If those could not be a deterrent (as you rightly pointed out), how can one expect a new agency (the Lokpal) to act as a deterrent? The first round of officials may be honest (just as the first few politicians, police, and judicial officals after Independence were). I agree that AAP is our best bet to (as you say) “clean up” the system. That’s why I mention in my earlier comment about my support to AAP.

        @Shashanka – Haha, having lived in countries that advocated the strictest form of punishments prior to returning to India, I can recognize the merits of your argument. I do not doubt that in some cases strict punishments act as strong deterrent. However, I do doubt whether a new agency (a supra-body) can achieve what Police, CBI or the judicial systems could not. Of course, I agree that CBI in its current avatar (under the ambit of the government) has become a pawn in the hands of those in power. But do we require a new supra-agency? I doubt that. Overall, the AAP is a welcome change from the dirty politics that the Indian voter is used to. As long as Mr. Kejriwal does not let his narcisism and megalomania come in the way of the party’s agenda, the AAP should see success in the future (read next elections; I doubt their success beyond Delhi in the current elections).

  16. Sashank permalink
    May 5, 2014 1:44 PM

    Reblogged this on Carrot’s Opinion on Indian Current Affairs & Politics and commented:
    Awesome post!

  17. sudeep permalink
    May 5, 2014 7:56 PM

    Why did AAP could not carry on with administration in Delhi??? I really did not get satisfactory answers for it.

  18. Milton A Roy permalink
    May 6, 2014 8:38 AM

    Arvind Kejriwal is a blessing to India.

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  1. Is Arvind Kejriwal dangerous for India? Pran Kurup | Kafila
  2. Election Spoofs, Fake News, Political Satire Flourishing in India | pundit from another planet

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