Bully in China Shop
By Ravi Shankar | Published: 19th January 2014 06:00 AM |
In George Orwell’s autobiographical essay, Such, Such Were the Joys, he reveals how he was bullied by schoolmates and even the headmaster at his elite public school because he was a scholarship student and not wealthy enough to afford the fees. Writers exorcise their demons with allegorical tales, and perhaps Orwell hit back at his past with the dark novel 1984, picturing the state as a bully. It’s 2014 now, and a contemporary bully’s voice challenges persecutors, real and imagined. The voice of Arvind Kejriwal.
History shows that when the persecuted win power, their leaders become bullies—Robespierre, Stalin, Castro et al. Kejriwal has risen from the pages of a dark comic book to play a perverse Batman, leading a motley crowd of lynch mobs and moral bullies. And there is no greater tyrant than a bully.
His sidekick, Somnath Bharti, Delhi’s law minister, exemplifies the comic cruelty of Kejriwal’s precarious regime. It’s frightening when the state turns vigilante. Bharti led a mob to storm a house where he claimed sex and drugs were being dealt. Egged on by the minister, the crowd threatened and assaulted two women. Bharti swore to “fix” the police for not obeying his “orders” to arrest them. All bullies are impressed by their own power: Bharti humiliated the law secretary who refused to summon Delhi judges. Ironically, Bharti is a lawyer indicted by the Delhi High Court of “tampering with evidence”. A bizarre government rules Delhi, where the law minister breaks the law and names a rape victim. When journalists pressured Kejriman’s Robin, Manish Sisodia—a former journalist—for an explanation, he snapped, asking if they were paid by the BJP. AAP is a media creation, but bullies detest gratitude. Tyrants know what created them can also destroy them. As a diversion, they need an enemy to empower themselves. Kejriwal has chosen the Delhi Police as his soft target. For the first time in history, a chief minister and his kedgeree of ministers will hold a dharna demanding punishment against the police and control over them. One who has gained power as agitator, Kejriwal knows no other way than dissent. Because of that he tolerates none, for he knows the unseating power of dissent. The tyrant obfuscates failure with violence: Kejriwal has not kept a single promise, instead, resorts to rousing the rabble to play their saviour.
This is disillusioning his erudite supporters. Every dissident movement attracts intellectuals, the bourgeoise and a section of the privileged. But revolutions devour their children; in Bengal, Mamata Banerjee turned against the very urban, literate class that was her greatest supporter. Similarly, now that he is in power, Kejriwal brooks no opposition from within. His constituency is made of polar opposites, the proletariat and the middle class. The rift is surfacing now, as the thinking minds and well-known faces oppose the mobocracy AAP represents. The bully seeks the validation of the mob, and is contemptuous of the fear he generates in the decent. This is Kejriwal’s tabula rasa of power.
Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia are examples where the bully garnered lumpen support, with violent power mythifying the tyrant. Adolf Hitler was just an Austrian corporal, and the Final Solution was prompted by his seething sense of inferiority against those he thought were better than him; a corporal vs Rotschild. On the other hand, after getting power, erudite revolutionaries like Che Guevera and Castro became the very monsters they had once fought. First Lenin, then Stalin were cunning bullies who exceeded that historical brief, tapping the anger of peasants by executing the elite and the bourgeois and then sending millions of their own supporters to the Gulag to rule a republic of terror.
If unchecked, the Kejriwal regime will graduate from a spate of errors to a state of terror. Paying the price would be the idealistic elite. India, weary of Congress-led corruption, is seeking an angel of salvation. What it seems to have got instead is a soft-spoken Frankenstein.