India Insight

Arvind Kejriwal: when lightning doesn’t strike thrice

(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and represent his points of view only.)

Arvind Kejriwal’s dud of an expose on Bharatiya Janata Party chief Nitin Gadkari has caused some people to wonder why the social activist made his allegations in the first place. Is he trying to clean up politics? Or is he trying to clean up votes?

I like Kejriwal. He is a true activist. He gave up a comfortable government job to dive into the world of rallies and RTIs. He even won a Magsaysay award for it.

But now what?

He has clearly come to a conclusion that change can come only from inside the system, so he wants to get into parliament. And the route he has chosen is that of the expose.

And why not? Corruption might be the most entertaining field in politics. Look at the Robert Vadra case, in which the son-in-law of a powerful politician in India’s Gandhi dynasty allegedly got himself wrapped up in lucrative and fishy land deals. That was a nice expose – spicy AND explosive. Kejriwal also managed to get suave union minister Salman Khurshid to fume, shout and fight with reporters.

Kejriwal needs different approach to win hearts and votes

The Arvind Kejriwal-Robert Vadra faceoff has finally reached the place where it should be — in court instead of in the press.

An activist named Nutan Thakur filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Allahabad High Court on Oct. 9, and it has now been admitted. The government must respond within three weeks. Thakur wants the court to explore allegations by social activist Kejriwal that Vadra, son-in-law of Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi, has been involved in shady land deals.

Perhaps court is the best venue for trying to find out if there is any less-than-aboveboard connection between Vadra, real estate firm DLF and the Haryana government, despite the lonely, but rewarding work of good investigative journalists.

The news this weekend: LPG, Kejriwal, toilets, politicians… and Somali pirates

It’s shaping up as a busy weekend for India’s politicians…

The price of LPG — liquefied petroleum gas cylinders, or cooking gas — has risen 11.42 rupees per cylinder because dealers are getting higher commissions. TV channels attacked the government because this “shocker” comes right after the imposition of a cap on subsidized cylinder sales was imposed.

Bharatiya Janata Party politician Smriti Irani said the party will hold a nation-wide protest on Oct. 12, saying the higher prices are “anti-women”. This is presumably because they do more of the daily cooking than men, whose potential inversely proportional waistline shrinkage could be in their favour.

We all know who the main attraction is on news channels nowadays: social activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal. Here are the pots that he’s stirring:

Kejriwal 2.0 not enough to change India’s political landscape

It wasn’t long ago that social activist Arvind Kejriwal called India’s parliamentarians “rapists, murderers and looters“. After making no bones about his hatred for India’s politicians during his anti-corruption movement, the former Team Anna member may soon be breaking bread and rubbing shoulders with the targets of his scorn now that he has decided to enter politics.

Kejriwal’s first test could be the assembly elections in Delhi next year. Will his rhetoric translate into votes? Will his party succeed in overthrowing a state government that has been in power for nearly 15 years in the capital? (Please participate in our poll on Arvind Kejriwal. Our question: will his new party be able to make a political impact? At the moment, “yes” votes outnumber “no” votes by nearly two to one.)

If you go by his “vision document“, the idea of a government run by the people gives an impression that parliamentary democracy is somehow a different thing. The former Magsaysay Award winner wants citizens to make decisions on budget, commodity prices and lawmaking. While there is no doubt that his ideas hint at a disorganized system of governance, it’s a college student’s version of idealism and it won’t transform India’s government.

Why Team Anna’s political plunge deserves India’s vote

Members of Team Anna, the group whose anti-corruption mission last year became one of India’s biggest social movements, will form a political party to try to fix the system from the inside.

The move follows the group’s latest and perhaps least effective hunger strike in New Delhi to try to force the government into accepting their demand of creating an anti-corruption ombudsman post. Such a move looks unlikely at best.

With signs of agitation fatigue among the public and a government refusing to play ball, the movement led by Gandhian activist Anna Hazare has decided to provide a “political alternative”. Hazare on Monday officially disbanded the team to pave the way for the formation of this as yet unnamed party.

Anti-graft wars: Empire strikes back at Team Anna

They rode a popular wave of discontent over spiralling corruption to force the government to bend to their demands and led an otherwise fractious parliament to arrive at a consensus on an anti-graft bill, in the process becoming media celebrities — their figurehead even hailed a national hero.

But now, activists led by Anna Hazare, whose campaign against corruption captured the imagination of millions across the country and prompted round-the-clock media coverage, say they are being targeted by official machinery for ruffling important feathers.

Hazare’s aides Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan have all received breach of privilege notices from parliament for derogatory comments they reportedly made against legislators.

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