This appeared in Asian Age....
The real meaning of two words : Arvind Kejriwal.
After what the ‘Jhaadu’ did to its mighty opponents in the recent New Delhi elections (swept them right off the map), Arvind Kejriwal has ceased to be just the given name of an individual. Those two words connote much more in our minds, post 8th December. They have made that rare transition and become nouns…. adjectives…. adverbs… proverbs…. verbs…. lyrics… anything and everything the nation needs to hang on to. We desperately needed to believe. We now believe. Not necessarily in a man armed with a jhaadu, who goes by that name. But in what he stands for. Arvind Kejriwal is now a symbol we can recognize and identify with. He is India’s hope – even for those who still don’t know what he can do for India. Nor what the deliverables are. All they know is that this David was armed with a humble broom and enormous fervor. The Goliath in this case was a powerful, well entrenched adversary with every possible resource to bank on. When Kejriwal decided to take on Sheila Dixit, skeptics scoffed and dismissed the man as either a dodgy agent of some shadowy figures out to finish the Congress. Or a complete mad man hell bent on self destructing. Nobody gave this underdog much of a chance. Nobody, except his flock of faithful followers. And a few early converts to his cause, who argued anybody was better than Dixit and the Congress Party. The ‘C-Word’ became interchangeable – ‘C’ for the Congress. And ‘C’ for corruption. In such a cynical scenario, along came a man who claimed to represent the ‘aam aadmi’. The Mango People got born. And from the looks of it, the Mango People are here to stay.
Decades from now, when historians try and decode this particular Delhi Election, his will be the name that pops up as the man who emerged as a game changer. It’s interesting how the public’s focus changed - almost miraculously - from Narendra Modi to Arvind Kejriwal. Not because Kejriwal has become a national figure overnight. Oh no. It’s because Kejriwal’s victory goes well beyond mere numbers. It’s not the number of seats his party managed to win. It’s the message that victory sent out to the entire country. The message is pretty simple : it says change is achievable if you are committed to it. And Kejriwal proved it. Perhaps, we are too close to this narrative to read it accurately enough. We would love to know Kejriwal’s ‘secret’. And maybe we will be most disappointed to discover he doesn’t have one! We live in disturbing times. We suspect everyone. We trust no one. Several attempts were made to besmirch Kejriwal’s name and derail his campaign. Who knows what sort of dirt may get dug up in future? But as of now, Kejriwal is up there with the angels, sporting a dazzling halo of his own. His victory is seen as the people’s victory. He is being hailed as a people’s hero. What the public has seen is sincerity and passion at play. When even his mentor, Anna Hazare, had distanced himself from him, Kejriwal carried on the good fight, never once losing focus. He had a one point agenda and that was to expose wrong doers and realign a deeply flawed system to be in sync with citizens’ expectations. Critics may carp and fault his methods – those wild charges and rash allegations that were beyond proving. Despite a few really serious missteps that may have cost him two or three crucial seats, Kejriwal stayed on course. It was nothing but his steadfastness that won him his hard fought victory.
Let’s not grudge him his due. Let us acknowledge the Kejriwal factor. But let us also be realistic and get the perspective right. Kejriwal’s job is done for now. This is what he was meant for. To be the catalyst. To be the carrier of people’s aspirations. To be the warrior who would lead his rag tag troops from the front. Kejriwal suddenly became the man who had done the right thing. The man who put his money where his mouth was. The man who had the guts to go eyeball-to-eyeball with adversaries who had outclassed him in every department, but one - transparency. Perhaps, emboldened by the success of this one man, many more Kejriwals will take birth and find the courage to jump into the fray and get their hands dirty. Because, like him, they may also see the bigger picture and tell themselves : this is an important moment for India. If we let it go without doing a thing , we are doomed. Kejriwal made us dream again. Made us believe that it’s possible to take on the big guns. And win. Whether or not Kejriwal ever becomes a national leader or even the Prime Minister, is not important at this point. That Kejriwal exists at all, is what counts.