Posts Tagged ‘Sheila Dikshit’


Funny isn’t it, that when Rahul Gandhi barges into a press conference and talks about tearing up and throwing away a government bill, some people are ready to kiss his feet. That’s not drama?

But when Arvind Kejriwal decides to stage a dharna outside Rail Bhavan for something that he knows his predecessor lost an election over, his effort is not just called a drama, but anarchic! When youngsters took to the streets of Delhi against the gang-rape of the medical student they too were called anarchic. When Hazare went on a fast at Ram Lila it was a couple of years ago, it was anarchic, when thousands turned up at the same ground in his support they were called anarchists – never mind if there were men and women with toddlers in their arms. We fawn over the Arab Spring movement and Occupy Wall Street which is also a street protest. It is ‘democracy in full flow’ when it happens there, but anarchy when it happens here?

Maybe what Kejriwal is doing is bizarre and outlandish, and drives people hysterical, but it is a more effective option than what Sheila Dikshit did – sat in her bungalow, passing the buck to the Delhi Police and the Centre, while young kids were being terrorised with water cannons and teargas in the national capital in December 2012. The thing is she had the ear of the two most powerful people in the country, the PM and Congress chief. But she was more interested in sucking up to them and feathering her nest. There’s no use telling people, “I gave you metros, infra etc” if you can’t provide something as basic as security. The issue about Delhi cops isn’t something that happened yesterday. It’s a constitutional provision that was put into place when Delhi got its limited statehood.

It’s not as if two law enforcement authorities don’t work anywhere in the country. The cantonments are a good example of how this system works efficiently. Similarly in Delhi, the reason given is that it is the capital city and it has too many diplomats, who need protection. So why can’t a section of the Delhi police do that, and who report only to the Centre, and not to the CM? The rest of the Delhi can be handed over to the State govt, can’t it? It was reported somewhere that what if Omar Abdullah demands the Army reports to him. Yes, what if Martians landed on Earth tomorrow and took over the world? The Army reports to the President, according to the very Constitution some people swear by. So let’s not obfuscate the issue with useless logic.

And this reason about what will happen if Pakistan decides to attack is just so much hogwash. To reach Delhi their conventional forces (army and air force) will first have to enter Punjab, J&K, Rajasthan etc. and that will happen only if and when our neighbours fire off a few nuclear-tipped ICBMs into Delhi and other cities and flatten them all. In such a situation, I don’t think the Delhi Police is going to be of much help, anyway! And I don’t think any country in its right senses will do what I imagined! If the Delhi Police is so super-efficient only because it reports to the Centre why have there been four major attacks and so many crimes in the Capital since the Parliament was attacked in 2001?

The truth is the bureaucrats in Delhi don’t want to give up control of the police otherwise they too will have to report to the State CM, which will diminish their importance. As mandarins of the Centre they enjoy a lot of perks which they might have to relinquish, including the swank homes they live in.

Everyone, including the ruling party and the saffron brigade, have their own reasons for not encouraging Kejriwal. The BJP fears he will split the votes and thereby ensure that their dear NaMo is denied The Chair that they all want him to occupy. That too I am willing to understand. The Congress plays its own double game of backing Kejriwal’s government, while at the same time rubbishing him in public. To the frontline political parties in the country, anything or anyone that steals the thunder from under their very noses, and shows them up for what they really are – hypocritical, self serving and insecure – is an anarchist.

However, have we tried to examine why someone like Anna Hazare or Arvind Kejriwal even appeared on the scene? How did he manage to tap into our anger and frustration about everything that was wrong with this country? The system was and is faulty, and we only scream ourselves hoarse or rant about it on social networking sites. Beyond that, we are happy if someone else takes the lead. Kejriwal did that, and until he decided to conduct a dharna he was everyone’s poster boy. Okay so he over-reached himself, but Kejriwal knew this was the only way to get the Centre to take notice. Even after that, have you seen their reaction? It’s usually ‘buzz off’ to anyone and everyone who has dared to question them. So while some may question Kejriwal’s methods, you have to ask what options he had left. What options, as a citizen, do you have when all avenues to get justice are closed?

People also talk about how he should go about it constitutionally. Fair enough. However, the fact is, the Constitution as envisaged by people like Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar has been twisted, ripped asunder and beaten out of shape by politicians who use it for their own survival and to promote themselves. And for those who say the system works, google some high-profile cases involving politicians which are dragging on in courts for the past few decades. Look at what’s happening in MGNREGA. Is it a system that works? You need to generate jobs for people, not just transfer money in their bank accounts to keep them happy, so they can get drunk at the nearest hooch shop or buy electronic goods. Now they are happy doing nothing because they know that every month government funds will get them their next drink and meal. So why should they work?

What politicians also need to accept is that this country isn’t what it was in 1947. Today we have the Internet which tells us how the rest of the world is progressing while we are still-stuck in the socialist rhetoric of the 196os and 1970s. And while people’s aspirations have also grown, normal things in their daily lives are beyond their reach. I am afraid that is not the kind of system our founding fathers had in mind when they gave us our Constitution. As George Orwell said in Animal Farm, ‘all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others!


I can understand why supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and especially Narendra Modi, are raging. It is because they know they were within sniffing distance of victory in Delhi, and someone, who they least expected, pulled the red carpet from under their feet. They were that close, and had they won, the saffron party would have completed a fantastic sweep of the assembly elections – four out of five. More importantly, to win in Delhi would have been the perfect launch pad for Lok Sabha 2014, when Narendra Modi would surely have swept the polls across the nation, and his ardent followers would have been over the moon. And I mean nation, not just the cow belt, because judging by the response he is getting, even in the South, it seems for the first time, he might achieve the impossible – a win down there – with the party’s allies, except maybe in Kerala.

And then out popped Aam Aadmi Arvind Kejriwal, wrapped up in his pullover, coat, muffler and topi, and stepped on the BJP’s celebratory cake. Up till the day the Assembly election results were being declared, the BJP and the Congress had both treated Kejriwal like the proverbial fly in the ointment – the minor irritant – that would be swatted into silence in another 24 hours (Example: Kejriwal isn’t even on the radar – Sheila Dikshit). They really didn’t think he was going to do much damage, and even the exit polls weren’t too sure. Much to their horror and anguish, the fly became a bee that stung them hard. Sheila Dixit, lost her constituency and her chair, and the BJP just lost its shirt at the audacity of this middle class ‘nobody’ who stuck it to them, where it hurts.

They believe the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has dared to steal from right under the nose of the BJP, what was rightfully theirs! And that also explains why the saffron supporters are savaging Kejriwal and his fledgling party with innuendos and pictures ridiculing him and his movement. What they are showing themselves to be, are poor losers. The funny thing is, the Congress was everything the people didn’t want in a political party and government– corrupt, inefficient, uncaring, and Kejriwal came along and whipped them, in their backyard. Instead of cheering for him there are some people who are ridiculing him. And these are mostly furious friends and supporters of the saffron brigade.

There’s a photograph that’s doing the rounds on Facebook, and probably on twitter. It is of Arvind Kejriwal in a Toyota SUV at Pune airport supposedly going to meet Anna Hazare at Ralegan Siddhi. It’s from a national daily. It’s obviously been used to convey that a guy who preaches simplicity and self righteousness has no qualms sitting in an SUV. It’s a pretty shallow attempt by the newspaper, for which incidentally I have great respect, to create a controversy where there isn’t any. Then there’s constant comparison between IIT pass-out Kejriwal and another IIT pass-out, BJP Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar of Goa, who has been photographed riding pillion on a scooter in Goa. I am sure Parrikar is a good, honest and hard working man. I’ve also read that he travels economy class and by bus, but I am sure he does not travel by scooter to work every day!

While I accept that I don’t see any party that can stand up to the BJP, right now, I don’t think I want to see a Parliament where there is no opposition worth the name. Unfortunately, even outside Delhi, the likes of Mulayam Singh, Mamata Banerji, Mayawati, Sharad Pawar, and Nitish Kumar are, together, not strong enough to pose a challenge even to Amit Shah, leave along Modi! And try as they might, Rahul Gandhi and his ragtag bunch are simply incapable of taking on Modi. Can Kejriwal?

At the recent speech to industry captains, Rahul spoke a lot about what his government has done and what it wanted to do, and yet it sounded so hollow, because it was just the political speech that the industry wasn’t interested in hearing. There really is no point in saying ‘we will do this’, or ‘we will do that’ when his government had ten years to do it, and didn’t. And now, just as the elections are around the corner and time is running out for the UPA government, it gets off its behind and announces a slew of populist measures, which everyone, with an iota of common sense, knows is just pre-poll gimmickry and will take another few years to bear fruit.


I tweeted on Sunday that Arvind Kejriwal has proved to voters across the country that it is possible to win an election without pandering to caste and religion. To that I’ll add money and muscle power. What he has also proved is that you can be nobody but if you believe in yourself, nothing can stop you. In one short sentence, Arvind Kejriwal has rewritten the political rule book.

People like Mayawati, Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad won elections by creating this hoodoo that the existence of anyone who was not a Brahmin was under threat. This whole nonsense of social justice has been re-engineered to bring in votes and not prosperity to the Dalits. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar championed the cause of the ‘downtrodden’ but those who use his name to climb up the political ladder don’t really care about Dalits or anyone else. Kejriwal has turned that stereotyped assumption on its head. What he does from here on, will be watched closely. If he can accomplish even 20 per cent of what he promised, in the first few years, I think he would have done his job.

I am also thinking whether all those who dismissed him as some kind of Dharti Pakad, are now looking for a place to hide. For those of you who are wondering who Dharti Pakad is, it is the nickname of at least three eccentrics who contested elections unsuccessfully. There was this one particular guy, with the same nickname in the 1980s and 1990s who had contested against every prime minister since Independence. He won only a handful of votes every time, lost his deposit, but he contested. And he became the ‘side show’ of every election.

Kejriwal has proved to everyone he is no Dharti Pakad. And I, for one am delighted, firstly, because I had predicted that he would surprise a few people; secondly because he rubbed Sheila’s Dikshit’s nose to the ground and thirdly and more importantly, because he showed both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party that he wasn’t going to be cowed down by the dirt they threw at him.

And that brings me to Sheila Dikshit. I think the Delhi voter, especially women, had made up their minds to kick her out on this Election Day, exactly a year ago on that chilly morning in December, when they came out on the streets to protest against the gang-rape of the medical student. Dikshit, ever the smug politician, shrugged off responsibility by saying that the security of Delhi was the job of the Lt. Governor, and then added fuel to the fire by saying that she had two grown-up daughters and would ask them to come home early, because Delhi’s streets were not safe enough. These comments and others as the agitation picked up steam didn’t really do much for her image. It was only when Sonia Gandhi stepped out of her residence one night to meet protestors warming themselves around a bonfire on a chilly Delhi night that Dikshit decided to meet the protestors. When she did that she was jostled and roundly booed.

No amount of good work or infrastructure you usher in can take the place of a compassionate society. And when Delhiites, with the rest of the country prayed for that brave young girl who fought for her life even as she was strapped to a ventilator, Sheila Dikshit showed us that as a woman and as a chief minister she was callous and lacked compassion. She seemed more interested in scoring brownie points with her adversaries. No amount of damage control helped after that.

Information from the election coverage sent to me by a former student, who covered the polls, says that women and middle-aged voters spewed venom against Sheila Dikshit because of her complete apathy towards women’s safety. Every woman felt that despite the fact that it’s been a year since the gang-rape, nothing had changed. I am sure if and when there is a re-election in Delhi in the next six months and God forbid she decides to contest, they will come out in even greater numbers to vote against her. Dikshit never deserves to return if she cannot guarantee the safety of young women and girls in her State. And the results in Delhi should be a wake-up call for those who rule in Maharashtra, because they have been displaying the same blinkered attitude toward women’s safety.

Coming to the BJP, those people who would like us to believe that Narendra Modi did not play a role in the four states that went to the polls are only deluding themselves. The fact is that his presence helped bring in the crowds which became voters in large numbers on Election Day. I was one of those who said to a friend on Facebook that a big crowd doesn’t necessarily translate into votes, so I guess I was a little off the mark. I don’t know if there was a wave or whatever they want to call it, because things were pretty tight in two of the four states.

Had there been a ‘wave’ the BJP would have trampled over all opposition in all four states. Coming to Modi himself, while there will always be those who will continue to highlight his role in the Gujarat riots – and they have every right to do – I think a lot of people have moved on from 2001 – just like they have moved on from 1984. Modi and his cohorts will be and should be brought to justice if they can find anything against them, but the world isn’t going to stop for that. The voter has just told us that.