“I ain’t never gonna be scared no more. I was, though. For a while it looked as though we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn’t have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too, like we was lost and nobody cared…. Rich fellas come up and they die, and their kids ain’t no good and they die out, but we keep on coming. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us out, they can’t lick us. We’ll go on forever, Pa, cause we’re the people.”
Ma Joad (John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath)
In an interview given hours before announcing his candidacy against Sheila Dixit in Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal had given a glimpse of his belief system. He spoke about how it has evolved from a child’s religious leanings into an agnostic life of a youth in the IIT and now exploring a new found faith – where destiny and circumstances lend space and time for a cause much bigger and complex than what mere mortals could conjure up. How else could Arvind explain the phenomenon of harnessing the yearning of a billion nobodies of a nation who have been oppressed and enslaved for centuries to a force that is poised to change the political destiny of India? It’s not any ideology imported from the west, but a tacit acknowledgement of a consciousness he has seen awakened in the battered and the harassed.
Shock and Awe
One could see Arvind engage anyone with a question with absolute clarity of thought and earnestness to share what he thought to a degree of exhaustion. On the other hand you could see the politicians and their proxies squirm uncomfortably at his questions. He hurt their egos like nobody else did. Their sense of self-righteousness and entitlement has been badly damaged when Arvind’s words went straight to the millions of people who were in a quest to articulate their disgust and a way out of the labyrinthine rut of political edifice.
The political class regardless of their size and affiliation are now in shock and their confusion is palpable. Suddenly they are not special anymore. They undergo spasms of self-doubt. Their fear of discomforting possibility of the loss of mystique that separated them from whom they’ve ruled appears real now. Their understanding of the world order is crumbling. For the first time, the ruling class cutting across all brands is scared ever since their original colonial masters, the British imperialists helped establish their brown supremacy to exploit their own countrymen in the garb of governance. The awakening of consciousness in common man is the ultimate threat to the political elite and the sons and daughters of their class like the Rajes, the Scinidias and the Gandhis. The people can now easily see how small these selfish hoarders are and know that they will be brushed aside soon to make way for the future.
The Awakening vs. An apolitical pipedream?
The fiercest critics of AAP, especially left leaning intellectuals harp on the term apolitical to define the movement – meaning the party is a ramshackle expression of faux outrage, cult following devoid of any serious foundation of sound ideology. They dismissed the movement predicting an imminent demise. But the stunning debut in Delhi shook the pundits of traditional politics to the core. They are at a loss to explain the phenomenon.
What ideology better than Swaraj as envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi would suit Indian ethos and model for an equitable and inclusive growth? Arvind himself has written a book titled Swaraj. The common folks in Delhi however have figured it out already. They understand that the democracy in India has a structural problem as highlighted when each case of corruption has been fizzled out at the altar of democratic institutions. They realize that the Constitution of India gives the framework for good governance. They know that there are several solutions to one problem and they have a say in choosing what is right for the common good. They debunked the myth of expensive elections by financing the process themselves. They after all voted in Delhi for a good candidate irrespective of his or her identities such as religion, economic and political stature and caste. Traditional politics with its caste, cash, top down high command calculations and irrelevant ideology have been put on notice.
Politics in India is not a cynical exercise of right wing strategists or leisurely activity for liberal intellectuals anymore. It takes place in the middle of throbbing crowds in markets, places of worship and entertainment in each cranny of the country. They always longed to take back their long lost rights to a just and dignified everyday life from the corrupt and regressive political class. The difference now is they know how!
“Men who have created new fruits in the world cannot create a system whereby their fruits may be eaten. And the failure hangs over the State like a great sorrow. ...and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”
- Grapes of Wrath