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SAEED NAQVI
SAEED'S DIARY

Saeed Naqvi is a Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation and a senior journalist.

Is Arvind Kejriwal on the Left, Right or Centre?

Arvind Kejriwal

hen the Congress decline began to look patently devoid of any advantages to the BJP, L.K. Advani said something significant: "Another JP is needed!"

Advani's invocation of the distinguished socialist and Gandhian leader Jai Prakash Narayan was not altruistic.

As a result of the JP movement, Indira Gandhi's monopoly on power was smashed. Advani and Atal Behar Vajpayee of Jana Sangh (BJP's precursor) were in the nation's first coalition government in 1977 under Prime Minister Morarji Desai. Centre of gravity of Indian politics shifted from Left of Centre to Right. The trigger was the JP movement.

When Anna Hazare, also a strict, austere Gandhian, like JP, launched his anti corruption movement last year and the media gave it enormous space, a search began for the movement's political beneficiaries. Some whispered: hadn't Advani asked for another JP movement?

The people, particularly a swami or two, who began to appear on the Anna stage were, in form and feature, more "BJP" than any other party on show. This BJP tilt must have caused others in Anna's proximity to steer clear of an identity they were averse to.

India against Corruption functionaries are quite open that Kiran Bedi was navigating Anna towards the BJP. It would therefore follow that Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan, the ones who charted a different course, that of gradually setting up a political party of their own at some stage, must be seen as a force wary of the BJP, particularly after the duo hurled a boulder in the Nitin Gadkari pond! Their vision of a decentralised, people's government, right up to the village level may require some work on the Constitution.

Is the village democratic? Is corruption really a top-down phenomenon? IAC think tanks are mulling over these issues.

As for the Congress, some of its leaders are having nightmares at the demolition work the IAC has already done. The exposé of Robert Vadra's land deals has rattled not only the family but the Gandhi Durbar. Heaven knows which missile is going to sting them where.

Of course there are sceptics of diverse hues, some so startled at the rapidity with which one scandal has followed another, that they can only think of a dark conspiracy whose beginning or end they are unable to spot. One diligent journalist has thrust under my nose a speech World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz made in 2006 denouncing corruption as "one of the biggest threats to development in many countries" including India. To draw attention to Wolfowitz's anti-corruption speech at this juncture implies that the IAC, according to this journalist, is somehow tainted by a World Bank agenda.

If this, indeed, were true, how does one explain thoroughbred Communists in muted admiration of Kejriwal?

Where the Left Front stands vis-à-vis IAC's future political plans may not be altogether irrelevant in the emerging framework. The Left, meanwhile, is busy putting its own house in order.

There have for some time been representatives of the CPM and CPI in conversation to minimise differences between themselves because, with the Congress and the BJP embarked on self destruction, they see vast, virgin fields open to political harvesting. But the Left is in no position to take advantage because it does not have a game plan yet.

The CPI, much the smaller of the two parties, doggedly disagrees with the CPM in Andhra Pradesh, for instance. It would like to go along with Telugu Desam because that support is important for D. Raja's re-election to the Rajya Sabha. Raja's current term ends in March. Is this a priority concern for a party with any hope in hell?

It reflects on Kejriwal's success that folks in the generally cautious Left parties are quite open about their emissaries being in contact with IAC.

Of course, the bewildered metropolitan dilettante frequently asks: "But how will this shoot and scoot help?" A pause. "See nothing has happened to Vadra."

Well should not the media, its credibility on the line, be pursuing stories to their logical end? The politically naïve also talk of the legal course.

But this course is course to paradise for the corrupt who have vast reserves of patience. Remember Sukh Ram found with crores in his pillow? Well he is free as a lark for the past 23 years even as the case drags on and on.

 
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