- Posted May 20, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
First Person: Your essays
Humpty- Dumpty Kejriwal
In just five months, from the Delhi assembly elections to the General Elections, AAP and Kejriwal shrank from being a hero to a zero. From declaring less than a month ago that AAP would win a resounding majority in the Lok Sabha polls, with some gorilla-like chest thumping, to now contemplating an alliance with Congress to keep their assembly seats intact, AAP has come a long way down. And fast. So fast that it seems impossible to believe that only in December it was the talk of the town, nay talk of the nation. Verily all the king's horses and all the king's are of no use to this humpty-dumpty.
Kejriwal became a giant-slayer of sorts by defeating Congress’ Sheila Dikshit, a major upset that sent the whole Delhi unit of the party packing. It was almost unbelievable that the party that held the reins of power for 15 long years had been reduced to just eight MLAs in the House. AAP gloated over Congress’ defeat, Sheila’s ouster, and began a mad dance of mobocracy, pooh-poohing every bit of wise counsel that came their way. They said Sheila and her party’s arrogance did them in—not a very incorrect assessment, given Sheila’s dismissive view of AAP as a serious challenge till the last moment. Yet it took Sheila 15 years in power to develop that kind of arrogance; it took AAP less than 15 days to reach Sheila’s level. Only if they had tried to emulate the strengths of Sheila, especially her good governance, AAP leaders would be scripting a different success story today. But that as we all know now, was not to happen.
AAP didn’t expect, when it fought the Delhi elections, that it would win so many seats and form a government. The sudden contact with power, a livewire of sorts, was perhaps a bit too much for AAP leaders—it knocked sense out of their heads. In a delirious moment, Kejriwal demitted office, and in another, he decided to contest against Narendra Modi in Varanasi. That was followed by a mad campaign of accusations, disparaging talks and an overall negative agenda, in which Kejriwal somehow convinced himself that Modi was losing. He thought he had figured it out all too well. He thought he was destined to slay giants, the proverbial David with the ability to kill Goliaths every time he stood against one. Everyone except Kejriwal and his party knew that he didn't have a chance against Modi, for this man was no philistine: he had his ears to the ground, had risen through the ranks, had a proven track record of governance, didn't have the corruption taint, and had the reputation of being a mass leader. His larger-than-life persona was bolstered by an aggressive publicity campaign put together by an efficient and resourceful machinery.
As a result, from the salt pans of the Rann of Kutch to the tea gardens of Upper Assam, Modi was seen as the only man capable of turning around the country diseased by inflation and corruption.
Naturally, when Kejriwal tried to punch holes into Modi’s carefully woven political and electoral fabric, he himself came to be seen as the nuisance-maker with an evil agenda. Of course, Kejriwal didn’t understand all that, did he? He didn’t understand that it was no Mithun Chakraborty movie where he could outrun a bullet, but a real test of political merit and relevance which he was ill-suited to win.
Just like Hitler, in the last days of his Third Reich, moved fictional armies on the drawing board to defeat the Red Army, Kejriwal assumed that his golden run in Delhi was enough to secure him victory in Varanasi. He said people of Varanasi wanted to vote for a “zameeni aadmi” (a grassroots worker) and were not going to accept “hawai raajneeti” (a reference to Modi’s travelling by a chopper). He made it appear that he knew the people and spoke for them, without, of course, making any effort to find out how people of Varanasi had been reading him. The result was quite expected—a humiliating defeat by a margin of 3,72,000 votes. His party’s candidates elsewhere met the same fate, the worst performers being in Assam where, as one analyst claimed, they polled fewer votes than NOTA.
The people of Varanasi didn't merely cut Kejriwal down to size, being inhabitants of the world’s oldest city they also taught him an important lesson in life. I’m not sure if he has learnt it, or will learn it eventually, but that lesson is of humility. Not the Uriah Heep kind of false humility that Kejriwal has been exhibiting all throughout, but Lord Ram-like humility which he exhibited before a dying Ravan at the battlefield in Lanka.
Lord Ram showed that you could even learn from the enemy when he and Lakshman knelt at Ravan’s feet and asked for some parting words of wisdom from that great scholar. And Ravana said that things that are bad for you seduce you easily, so much so that you run after them impatiently, while good things appeal less and you find excuses to keep them away—an apt lesson for Kejriwal, who quickly abandoned the same people of Delhi, who had voted him to power, in search of greener pastures nationally. When everyone urged him to stay on in government and consolidate his position, he resigned at the slightest excuse to pursue a more seductive option. Clearly, he didn't bother to read Ravana’s second lesson to Lakshman: that one should fly only as high as his wings could take him and not try to go farther, or else one would come crashing down to the ground. At least in this election, Kejriwal has had an Icarus-like fall. And it seems funny that only last month, his party’s leader Gopal Rai had equated Modi with Ravan.Kejriwal possibly is even today asking the mirror on the wall who is the best of all, and the mirror echoes back his thoughts. But the reality is clear; it needs to be seen if Kejriwal rises like a phoenix or fades away. But of course, he needs to remember that yeh jo public hai yeh sab jaanti hai. You can’t fool it once again.