Watching the birth of a new political party/outfit/movement in India is an underwhelming experience because it has happened so many times. The yet unnamed political party just midwifed by Arvind Kejriwal, a former revenue officer turned moral crusader, along with a group of almost entirely urbane professionals is no exception.
Grand righteousness is invariably attends such announcements and uncompromising morality is projected to be the core motivation of all such parties with their proponents promising nothing short of a national political, cultural and social transformation unseen before. And then the oppressive compulsions of realpolitik begin to erode that lofty vision. It is not my case that Kejriwal’s party is bound to crash against the same entrenched interests as others before him have but the probability of that happening is much higher than the initial flush of can-do might make them believe.
In order to set themselves apart quickly Kejriwal and his colleague Prashant Bhushan, a lawyer by profession, have targeted Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, who as the president of the ruling Congress Party often makes it to the list of the top 10 most powerful women in the world. The allegations are nebulous but have enough hints in them to suggest that because of who he is Vadra has managed to expand his real estate business dramatically in the past few years by managing to get large unsecured loans. Vadra, who is married to Priyanka, Sonia and the late former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s daughter, has dismissed the allegations as an attempt at cheap publicity and defamatory.
It has been my experience that notwithstanding their obvious appeal pure personal honesty and integrity of those in political life do not seem to constitute the single most decisive factor in the way people vote. Voting has always been a pragmatic exercise that often gives primacy to the effectiveness of candidates rather than their integrity. Whether it should be so,is an altogether a different question. Kejriwal and his colleagues are banking on the ordinary citizens’ profound disillusionment with the corrupt political order. However, that disillusionment is less than enough fuel to propel the kind of seminal change that their party/outfit/movement is promising.