From Mamata to Kejriwal: When democracy eats up its own root

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When democracy eats up its own root
In May 2011, a state of the Indian Union found itself freed from a 34-year-long entrenched regime of the Left under the leadership of a firebrand woman leader. It was a memorable victory, more for the common man than the historians, for he thought life would be better from there on. There was a lot of hope in the post-Left West Bengal. The change under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee, a leader who rose from the grassroots, made the dream look healthy.

In December 2013, another leader of the common man, Arvind Kejriwal, came to power in Delhi after decimating a 15-year-old government. It was described as a historic moment for not many apolitical force has managed to succeed in this country politically and that too in the first attempt. Delhi, like West Bengal, also began to dream big.

But the honeymoon was short in both cases. Both the leaders started to feel themselves bigger than the institutions and their responsibilities soon after taking office and in no time, things were back to square one. What is striking is that in both cases, it was the subject of women's security that marked the ultimate point of confrontation between the governments of these two leaders and the society in general.

While in the case of Mamata Banerjee, her government chose to confront with the society, in Kejriwal's case, the situation is more complicated. The latter, despite being in government, decided to unleash an alternative ego of a rebellion that confronted both the state and the society.

On Sunday, Kolkata saw in horror another of its female resident getting gangraped while on way home. On Monday, Kejriwal and his team organised a disturbing dharna paralysing the national capital for some vague reason. In both cases, we see how two governments led by two popular leaders betray their constituencies by either failing to protect life of the ordinary citizens or causing immense difficulty in their day-today life. Yet, they show no remorse and speak with arrogance.

The tales of Banerjee and Kejriwal tell that empowerment of common man is not a solution but a problem in itself. The West Bengal chief minister is a heavyweight politician no doubt but the regime she heads comprises less-known politicians and also common people from various walks of life. Kejriwal, on the other hand, is himself a non-politician and leads a group of ministers who have little experience in political issues.

Mamata & Kejriwal show our democratic institutions have eroded alarmingly

Both Banerjee and Kejriwal have exhibited precedents not favourable for the Indian democracy. The former has time and again challenged the traditional Centre-state relations in the country while trying to assert the voice of the regional. We even heard her saying at a rally: "What can I do if the prime minister doesn't listen to me? Should I beat him up?"

And now Kejriwal throwing an open challenge to the Indian republic by uttering words that are by no means suitable for a democracy. He said on Monday: "Yes I am an anarchist." Three weeks ago, it was this same man who had said that he and his ministers wouldn't be arrogant like the members of the establishment.

Both also have shown a common tendency of attacking every other institutions that they feel haven't assisted them in their missions.

It can't be concluded at this moment whether Banerjee and Kejriwal have failed to deliver as per the people's expectations. We have seen the former winning elections after elections and Kejriwal still has quite a support base which when combined with the strong anti-incumbency feeling, can still produce a satisfactory result during the elections. But they have certainly raised a few questions about the functioning of our popular democracy and how things could change in the coming days.

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