FAL­LACY OFTHE MAGIC BROOM

IN THIS LAND OF SUB-RU­RAL SO­CIAL­ISM, WHAT MAT­TERS THE MOST IS NOT CON­STI­TU­TIONAL RIGOUR BUT THE RIGHT­EOUS­NESS OF THE LOFTY FEW. THE CULT OF JUS­TICE IS THE LEIT­MO­TIF OF REV­O­LU­TIONS, AND IN THE BROOM REV­O­LU­TION OF KE­JRI­WAL, THE IDEA OF JUS­TICE IS A RE­PU­DIAT

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Witches and wizards fly on broom­sticks, don’t we mug­gles know? When the boy wiz called Harry Pot­ter flew on his Fire­bolt, he did win more than the Quidditch World Cup. He won the hearts of all those adults who missed the magic of their pri­vate Hog­warts. Now we the dis­il­lu­sioned le­gions in the Repub­lic of Hope Aban­doned badly need a wizard—and the magic that can save us from the im­pend­ing doom. We need a wizard with a broom. And some of us have al­ready sighted him in the gul­lies of In­draprastha: The man in a white cap promis­ing the disen­chanted and the dis­pos­sessed the Ideal State of Swaraj where the aam aadmi will be his own po­lit­i­cal mas­ter, and his do­main will be swept clean of cor­rup­tion and other deadly sins of power. The man with the broom, driven by the anger of In­dia and sus­tained by those who des­per­ately look for an al­ter­na­tive that is dif­fer­ent from the es­tab­lish­ment par­ties on the left or right of cen­tre, plays out the redeemer’s script in such a way that he could be mis­taken for a fac­tory-as­sem­bled rev­o­lu­tion­ary who is part Gand­hian, part Marx­ist, part an­ar­chist, part lib­er­tar­ian. His ap­peal reaches across the classes. In the draw­ing rooms of the per­ma­nently har­rumph­ing mid­dle class, he could very well have been born out of its imag­i­na­tion. This class won’t dirty it­self; it wants a Dirty Harry to do the job for it, and our Broom Aadmi fits the bill per­fectly. For the low­est class, he holds the broom of sal­va­tion in the land of the bloated rich and the tram­pled poor, the last hope of the wretched and the damned.

Still, why is it that Arvind Ke­jri­wal is in­com­pat­i­ble with the at­ti­tudes and as­pi­ra­tions of twenty-first cen­tury In­dia, that his me­dia savvy lib­er­a­tion dance is ap­pallingly re­gres­sive?

It is the text, though the con­text is per­fect for the pol­i­tics of dis­sent in a coun­try where the stock of the pro­fes­sional politi­cian is at an all time low. In the his­tory of re­sis­tance you can’t miss the am­a­teur as free­dom fighter and his tri­umph over the lies of the rul­ing es­tab­lish­ment. In­dia of the mo­ment may not be a closed so­ci­ety run by a ve­nal ca­bal, but it’s one of the world’s most mis­man­aged democ­ra­cies which have in­ter­nalised—or shall we say in­sti­tu­tion­alised?— the worst in­stincts of a ba­nana repub­lic. We need a break from the Gov­ern­ment which has not just lost its cred­i­bil­ity, but even its sense of shame. The text of Ke­jri­wal—he calls his “dream” a “po­lit­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion”—is not the al­ter­na­tive. In this dream, In­dia is a Maha Pan­chayat where “power con­claves” will be “torn down” and power will be “passed di­rectly to the pub­lic”. He wants to “up­turn the sys­tem”. In the post-rev­o­lu­tion Ru­ri­ta­nia, “ev­ery aam aadmi will be the gov­ern­ment,” and where jus­tice will be “dis­pensed to the com­mon man at his doorstep,” most likely af­ter a show trial at the vil­lage square. In this land of sub-ru­ral so­cial­ism, pol­i­tics will be free of re­li­gion, econ­omy will be saved from greedy in­dus­tri­al­ists, elec­tric­ity and wa­ter will flow at cheaper rate, and “the youth will be freed from the clutches of par­ties and lead­ers”. What mat­ters the most is not con­sti­tu­tional rigour but the right­eous­ness of the lofty few. The cult of jus­tice is the leit­mo­tif of rev­o­lu­tions, and in the broom rev­o­lu­tion of Ke­jri­wal, the idea of jus­tice is a re­pu­di­a­tion of con­sti­tu­tion­al­ism as well as moder­nity. The pol­i­tics of the en­light­ened be­gins as a ro­mance and ends up as the tyranny of the self-right­eous.

So be­ware the wizard on the broom­stick, for his magic king­dom is In­dia in re­verse.

Www.in­di­a­to­day­im­ages.com

SAU­RABH SINGH/

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