Yesterday, while speaking to a news channel, Arvind Kejriwal said the time has come for 'alternative politics' in India. The excessive corruption in the politico-public domain made him feel so and there are a million others in this country who also feel the same.
One of Kejriwal's colleagues Prashant Bhushan had said in an article that the only peaceful way to change the existing corrupt system is through a ballot-box revolution, which will remove the 'corrupted mainstream political parties' and empower a new force that envisions a fresh and different engagement between the state and the people.
This idea is a noble one but is practical. If we look at some of the Bhushan's words, he said: "Most people's movements or committed individuals have fared badly in their foray into electoral politics ... People therefore do not see them as viable and credible players, and vote for the lesser evil among the established parties... It will require the setting up of an organisation formulated differently from other political parties, where people volunteer and participate not for office or power, but because of their concern for the country..."
What is a mainstream and why is it corrupt?
What is the practical explanation of a 'mainstream corrupted political party'? How can we differentiate an organisation from other political parties, given the fact that it will also contest against those parties in a very complex and competitive socio-political game and which only recognises the winner in terms of numbers.
What difference do the IAC think about, given the fact that in India all form of qualitative politics ultimately gets reduced into a quantitative formula? The fight that Kejriwal has taken up against the power centres in Delhi and around by targetting Robert Vadra does not speak of any alternative politics. It is the same old game which is played by other so-called 'corrupted mainstream parties' and is the language of power politics.
Attacking mainstream with no alternative to offer
There is a very thin line of difference between the mainstream and the parallel stream. The funny part of the 'mainstream' is that it is indispensable despite all odds whereas what is 'parallel' is always dispensable despite all goods. With time, this indispensable mainstream absorbs the high points of the parallel and also teach the latter to learn its own achievements. The two can never be completely divorced and if there is an attempt, the basic foundation of the human society will be shattered. Today, noble doers like Kejriwal have challenged the mainstream without any substantial alternative to offer.
It is quite surprising that in the name of thriving for an alternative, these crusaders are actually trying to hijack the actual situation to their advantage, ignoring all complex issues that lie on the ground. They target the mainstream thinking it is corrupt but actually it is not. If Kejriwal thinks restoring the power connection to a defaulter's house or creating a ripple in the media will mean that India is all headed to a cataclysmic change, it is just equivalent to day-dreaming.
The institution and practices in Indian democracy today are not the rotten Congress's private property. Sonia Gandhi and her gang might find themselves dumped in the dustbin of history tomorrow but the legacy of a vibrant democracy, i.e. India, will continue. But the democratic legacy does not give people like Arvind Kejriwal the licence to promote anarchy. If Kejriwal has to change India, he has to do it by working amid and against all odds. Corruption has not been started by the Congress or the BJP. Its roots are much deeper.
Corruption is in our culture
What is corruption? Does it only mean embezzling funds? Why do we think that the root of all corruption is only the politicians? The truth is that the same media which create demons out of the politicians also create angels out of the Kejriwals. Are we, the common Indians, not corrupt? By corruption, I not only mean just monetary corruption. Which field of social life has not turned corrupt today?
Our training in corruption starts at home. Each and every household of the 'modern' India suffer from the disease called corruption. We get rewards for doing good in examination and then learn to bribe the traffic policeman, demand dowry during marriage, pay donation to get our kids admitted to a good institution, pay money to get even a low-paying job, pay the middlemen to get a confirmed railway ticket, take favours from a political party ahead of election campaign and what not. It appeals to us across the classes and exhibits itself in various forms.
And even when there is no money involved, our moral decadence is amply displayed. Most of us don't care to stand when the national anthem is played, we don't care to keep our roads clean and willfully dump garbage on them, we use subsidised diesel meant for the poorer classes for our latest automobile, we buy a more expensive car after seeing that one of our relatives has bought the latest one, we feel great pride by breaking the law, and yet after all this, when the media get ready for its daily revolution in the evening prime time, we feel "Ah! Here comes a real man called Kejriwal who will see us through against all odds." This is a shocking state of denial that we live in today.
Will the mainstream also claim the Kejriwals and Bhushans one day?
There is no doubt that Kejriwal will also fall prey to what we call the 'Weberian rationality' once these days of feel-good revolution put him into the corridors of power politics. The indispensable mainstream will absorb him as it has been doing till now, smashing the brittle dream of changing India. There has been movements in India in the past, which despite banking on solid substantial issues in their initial days, forgot their roots after tasting power.
Kejriwal's politics has changed since Anna days
Kejriwal's politics has already changed from an anti-political brand (when it was being led by Anna Hazare during the hunger strike days) into a political one and given it has no ideology to drive it forward, its only consequence will be to make an ally with the same old corrupted mainstream parties. And if his still-to-be-born party says at any point of time in the future that it doesn't believe in party politics for it is a corrupt practice, it will prove that Kejriwal is the most incompetent politician in contemporary India.
Paper revolution just a media product?
Kejriwal's anti-corruption crusade is just a baby of the media and the country's middle-class, both of which love to consume sensationalism. Caste atrocities, deifying terrorists, worrying crisis over sharing river water or endless rapes do not ring a bell to them as profoundly as an exposure of Robert Vadra does. The media don't feel encouraged to drag on these issues for the self-obsessed middle-class don't feel excited by these news. They rather like banging a punching bag in Vadra for it give them a hollow sense of victory against corruption, this time seen as an 'external problem'.
It is high time that we give up the same-old hypocrisy and try to change ourselves. No avatar can ever put to an end to corruption as we all hope so strongly for corruption is not colonialism that it can be fought externally. Hazare had taken a nice step but now his successor has sealed the fate of a promising movement. If corruption is to be truly defeated, we must change our ideals.