The AAP’s Concience and an Upside Down World

I did not expect I would break to smithereens my resolve made just 3 days back not to waste my time watching the senseless debates on TV. Within a day of making the promise I sat for hours in front of the TV. And because of whom did I break my promise? The Aam Aadmi Party and Mr.Arvind Kejriwal!

I watched the ‘dharna’ on TV with avid interest when I came for lunch on Jan 20th and immediately as I returned home after the day’s work. I sat transfixed watching the opposition leaders, the Aam Aadmi representatives, the TV journalists, the sanctimonious anchors and the friends-turned-enemies of Arvind Kejriwal.

That day I opted, in a rare move, to listen to the most acerbic, loud, vicious, tasteless, shallow and popular of all channels – with a vengeance.

With a vengeance in two ways. One, in the sense I wanted ‘poetic justice’ on Arvind and his self righteous band of people for turning the world upside down. I was not the only one who wanted this. Everyone else including some of his hitherto closest supporters from TV channels, friends from his agitation days a few months ago, politicians of all hues and almost everyone else were blasting his actions to pieces.

And two, this seemed better entertainment – with heroes, villains, plots, sub-plots, twists in the tale, climaxes and anti-climax – than any movie I have seen in recent times. So, I watched greedily, recklessly, feeling guilty all the while that I was intent on watching the tamasha while I had so many better things to do. No wonder TV has become the new opiate of ‘we the people’.

Now that Shinde has in an insipid move bailed him out – otherwise we would have had the entire nation including his own supporters baying for Kejriwal’s blood – things have quietened down a lot. The excitement has fizzled out so it is time to get a sense of why I broke my promise and was glued to the TV for several hours over two days.

Was it because I wanted to protect the old world order – the one I am very familiar and comfortable with – which Arvind Kejriwal and his group were threatening to disintegrate? Or was it because I nursed a grievance because an ordinary man became extra-ordinary, and I am jealous? Or, was it because he spread gloom every time I saw him on TV with his litany of complaints against people, systems and more?

I will not be unfair to myself. After all, till recently, I considered him a hero for daring to challenge the status-quo.

Right now, there is a seething anger because, to me Kejriwal is a fallen hero. I discovered during the last few days that he is a very ordinary man fighting a losing battle in coping with his extra-ordinary status. For all that he says about not wanting power, he seems to be already drunk with power. His followers – Yogendra Yadav being a very honourable exception – seem worse. They strut around, holier-than-thou, condemning and uttering unkind words against people who do not fit into their version of things. Their swagger and actions reflect arrogance and hubris, at their peak.

Kejriwal and his party seem caught in their old orbit of agitation and protests. They boast that they have fulfilled several of their poll promises within a matter of three weeks. Yet, these implementations were swathed in the fervor of the agitation days – from their old, familiar mindsets. They are already speaking of a revision of the quantity of water that will be given free. Their decision on FDI, honours the poll promise and may even fetch them votes, but seems loaded against the interest of farmers, consumers and the country. Their minds seem to inhabit the space of their old populist rhetoric and beliefs.

It is time that the AAP got into the governing mode and shift into a new orbit. If they adopt the tricks of wily politicians by trying various gimmicks to get the mind space of the nation, they will be exposed for what they are – old wine in new bottle.

Yesterday and the day before, I happened to listen to the “I have a Dream” speech of Martin Luther King Jr. That speech reflected his simmering anger, but it was also uttered in a tone of inclusion and compassion. No one could have been angrier than Nelson Mandela for what the whites did to the best years of his life. But he had shifted to another orbit and burned bridges with his past. So, he too operated out of a zone of genuine care rooted in inclusion of all.

People need to have large minds to operate from the paradigms of Martin Luther King, Gandhi or Nelson Mandela. Other than Yogendra Yadav, I do not see anyone else among their leadership, with an encompassing vision.

It frightens me when Kejriwal and the AAP leaders like Somnath Bharti exhibit narrow vision, condemning people, races and institutions. Their self-righteous attitude may prevent them from digesting important lessons from the annals of history – when a cocktail of unbridled and blinkered conscience of leaders took the world to the brink of precipices many a time.

I still remember the haunting lines from the movie “The Fixer” which I saw when I was in school.

“It’s not madness that turns the world upside down. It’s conscience”.

Yes, people commit murder and worse in the name of conscience.

The fact comes to haunt me again why I wasted so much of my time watching TV debates about people with small agendas. Added to that, I have also spent a lot of time writing about them here. Besides, I am left with a bitter taste in my mouth. Look, how scathing I have been in my pronouncements, in this post!

The disconcerting conclusion is, I am also operating from my small self very much like the people I wrote about.

I can only pray – Father, forgive us, we know not what we do.

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