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
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.