Of course, no Main stream media (MMS) story can be complete without obligatory reference to Gujarat riots and Ayodhya-Babri structure. But barring that, the following article invites those who support blindly Mr. Kejriwal and his party, AAP to do a serious rethink.
Economic Times: Poke Me: Why Kejriwal is losing the plot
This week’s ” Poke Me”, invites your comments on why Kejriwal is losing the plot. The feature will be reproduced on the edit page of the Saturday edition of the newspaper with a pick of readers’ best comments.
So be poked and fire in your comments to us right away. Comments reproduced in the paper will be the ones that support or oppose the views expressed here intelligently. Feel free to add reference links etc., in support of your comments.
Supreme Court Justice B N Agarwal is being sorely missed. It took him precisely 15 minutes to get a flustered Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi running from Chennai’s famed Marina beach to the secretariat and start working. That was after the DMK patriarch had said he would fast for the cause of Lankan Tamils, in April, 2009. The slightest of hints about the dreaded Article 356 of the Constitution did the trick.
As TV started flashing Justice Agarwal’s remarks on the incongruity of a constitutional functionary going on a fast, the chief minister had no option but to make a dash for his office before lunch.
Fortunately for Kejriwal, Justice Agarwal has since demitted office. Fortuitously for him too, the party that’s holding the reins of power at the Centre is famous for fiddling over issues. In this power vacuum, self-styled anarchist Kejriwal seems to think he can rule the law from the street instead of living by the rule of law, throwing constitutional norms and principles to the wind; all in the name of unconventional politics.
His politics as Delhi’s chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader has been a dangerous mix of self-righteousness and lynch-mob vigilantism, designed to mask his incapability to push through any of the major changes he had promised. The agenda of Somnath Bharti, his law minister, is equally insidious: subvert the existing criminal justice system to ensure khap panchayat style justice, ignore both facts and the law.
In recent days, the minister has raided (with an unruly mob in tow) houses in his constituency on the suspicion of soliciting and drug-trafficking, dragged away African women and forced them to submit in public to urine samples for medical analyses, all in the name of justice.
Pray how is the AAP any different from the Sri Ram Sene which doesn’t hesitate to play judge, jury and executioner on Valentines’ day in Karnataka and has assaulted AAP leaderPrashant Bhushan for his long-held views on Kashmir? How is Bharti any different from the Shahabuddins of yore who took the law into their own hands? Or the Mumbai underworld?
The criminal justice system as it stands today, one has to concede to Bhushan, is full of shortcomings. It is slow, expensive and has been hijacked by those who know how to manipulate the system. Conviction figures are low.
However, the way ahead cannot be the Kejriwal way — hold the city and people who propelled you to power to ransom and offer the voter street corner vigilante justice in the name of deliverance. The Kejriwal brand of politics is inherently disrespectful of all constitutional values we hold dear; the basic presumption of innocent till proven guilty, the principles of federalism and separation of powers. It holds out a simplistic and a potentially dangerous solution to a people impatient for change – take the law into your own hands like Bharti and fellow MLA Rakhi Birla.
Instead of disowning them, Kejriwal indulged in his own bit of lawlessness when he defied prohibitory orders to sit on a dharna demanding that the Centre hand over control over the city cops to him. He will have us believe that all corruption in Delhi would go once he controls the cops. Finally, on Tuesday, he backed down and settled for peanuts: getting a few cops who dared cross his government’s path to go on paid leave.
The man’s histrionics captured eyeballs; his shrill rhetoric caused panic and chaos in the city.
A few cops under his belt, Kejriwal called off the dharna before things turned ugly and passed it off as a victory for the people of Delhi. Many fell for his theories of police inaction to justify his means.
Riling people against another section is fraught with dangerous consequences for this polity, as we have seen in earlier instances of mass political mobilization whether in Gujarat or Ayodhya. Will saner elements in the party prevail before all its political goodwill is frittered away?
Or is it that Kejriwal is merely pandering to his constituency, the lower middle class, the disgruntled and the poor who wish to be rid of the existing inequitable system? Is he is trying to overthrow the system even though he chose to go the ballot way?
The educated AAP supporter has a lot of thinking to do in the days leading up to the Lok Sabha polls. Is this what he signed up for when he voted AAP in 2013? Surely Kejriwal’s cure, fraught with the danger of unleashing unparalleled violence and strife, is worse than the disease? Maybe, Kejriwal should call for another referendum on the means to his end if there is one. Unfortunately for him and fortunately for us, he may just lose that one.
FRONT PAGE | Tuesday, June 14, 2011 | 2:02:55 AM
PNS |New Delhi
A day after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee launched a frontal attack on anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and his team, the civil society members hit back at the ruling dispensation in the Centre. Accusing the Congress of behaving in an “autocratic” manner, they decided to brief the UPA allies and the Opposition parties about the goings-on in the meetings of the Joint Drafting Committee (JDC) for Lokpal Bill.
“The Congress is not only excluding its UPA allies in the talks for the Lokpal Bill but also the Opposition parties. It thinks as if only the ruling party is important. It shows the Congress’ concern for parliamentary democracy,” said activist Arvind Kejriwal, while talking to mediapersons on Monday.
He said the civil society members would now brief the non-Congress parties on the issue. “We will brief them as to what all is happening at the JDC meetings,” he said.
The civil society would write to the political parties with details of the deliberations that have taken so far at the joint panel meetings. They would also attach the documents circulated during the meetings.
Kejriwal, a member on the joint panel, quoted Mukherjee as saying the MPs were elected representatives of the people and they had the powers to legislate laws. “But the MPs cannot become dictators if they are elected once in five years,” he retorted.
Replying to Mukherjee’s attack on Hazare, lawyer Prashant Bhushan said it was a proof of the Minister’s skewed understanding of democracy and arrogance of power. They have also written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying an honest person like him should not be scared of being investigated by an independent Lokpal.
In turn, without naming Hazare Congress went all out against him by alleging that the Gandhian was an “unelected dictator” who was acting at the behest of “forces attempting to destablise the country”.
On Sunday, Mukherjee, who is the JDC chairman, had stated that the civil society’s agitations and fasts were undermining established institutions of democracy such as Parliament. Lawyer Prashant Bhushan and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, both members on the joint panel, spoke to the mediapersons on Monday to trash the charges made by the Finance Minister.
Responding to Mukherjee’s charges, the civil society members, in a statement, said, “Such statements betray a distorted understanding of democracy and an arrogance of power.
They show a mistaken understanding that the people have no role to play in governance and law making once they have elected their representatives and they have formed a Government.”
While Mukherjee had taken a dig at the fast undertaken by Hazare in April, Bhushan retorted that fasting, as Gandhi had demonstrated, was the most non-violent and civilised means of expressing oneself and exerting democratic pressure on any Government. “Unfortunately, a party which considers itself as the political legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, is reviling civil society movements and fasting as anti-democratic,” he said.
Bhushan also objected to Mukherjee rejecting the demand of civil society to televise live the proceedings of the JDC and calling it a circus. He asked whether by this logic it meant that Parliament was also a circus and the MPs were animals in that circus.
Kejriwal repeated the points made in the letter written by all five civil society members to Manmohan Singh to buttress their argument that the PM should indeed be brought under the purview of Lokpal.
He reminded the Government that Mukherjee himself as the chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Lokpal Bill in 2001 under the NDA rule had recommended that the PM should covered under the ambit of Lokpal. Later, in January this year, in the draft law prepared by his Ministry, Law Minister M Veerappa Moily suggested inclusion of the PM in Lokpal’s purview, he said.
Kejriwal went on to state that the draft law was sent to Home Ministry under P Chidambaram, which also concurred in March with this view. Even Manmohan Singh had advocated the inclusion of PM in Lokpal’s ambit, he said, adding that in the last 10 years the Government’s view has been in favour of bringing the PM under the purview of Lokpal. Incidentally, three out of five Ministers – Mukherjee, Chidambaram and Moily – are on the joint panel for Lokpal Bill.
Kejriwal asked, “Now, all the three Ministers have suddenly taken a U-turn and they appear to be adamant on keeping the PMO out of the Lokpal’s ambit. We are wondering what happened post-March, which prompted the Government to suddenly take a u-turn on the issue?”
On the other hand, stepping up its attack on Hazare and BJP-RSS, Congress charged that the greatest danger to the democracy is from the unelected dictator. “If democracy faces its biggest peril, it is from the tyranny of the unelected and tyranny of the unelectable,” party spokesman Manish Tewari told mediapersons without naming Hazare or BJP or RSS.
Apparently sending the message to Hazare and his colleagues not to take the engagement with the Government for granted, he said there can be only one veto in Indian democracy and that is in the hands of people and “not any one individual”.
Taking strong exception to Hazare’s threat to go on an indefinite hunger strike from August 16, Tewari wondered whether it was democratic to talk about such threats when one is engaged in a dialogue with the Government.