Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) apparently are not a flash in the pan. Their appeal and influence have travelled beyond Delhi. Their adherents include personalities from different fields of human endeavour. For example, Captain Gopinath, founder of Deccan Airways, and Mallika Sarabhai, a celebrated Gujarati dancer. Senior TV journalist Ashutosh too is likely to join AAP. The AAP has affected Siwani, Haryana, Kejriwal’s hometown. Siwani grain merchants are trying hard to live up to its new identity of being the anti-graft crusader’s birthplace. They have resolved to be totally honest in their dealings and have decided to impose strict weighing rules. The Broom has become a coveted symbol. A political party, Natek in UP, has laid claim to the symbol. The Allahabad High Court, Lucknow Bench, has issued notice to AAP in the matter. Kejriwal and AAP’s growing influence has perturbed some sections in the Congress as is evident from Congress minister Jairam Ramesh’s comment that mainstream parties should pay heed to AAP’s rise. RSS has also cautioned the BJP about the rise of AAP. It is reported that at a closed door meeting near Hyderabad, RSS leaders warned BJP about the threat from AAP and urged party leaders not to be complacent.
Kejriwal has initiated some novel schemes such as anti-corruption helpline which received over 4,000 calls by last Thursday. The call centre staff, however, could only attend to 824 calls due to heavy congestion in the line. That is not all. Starting this weekend, the chief minister and his council of ministers will hear people’s grievances in public meetings outside the Delhi Secretariat at ITO every Saturday. From Monday, one minster will also be available at a daily ‘janata durbar’. All the meetings will be held from 9.30 am to 11 am. The underlying intention is that people of Delhi should have direct interface with the government without bureaucratic hurdles. Kejriwal stated that the government’s compliance system will not rely only on official reports but a monitoring system will be created for effective redressal of complaints. To ensure that the system does not remain limited to the state departments, Kejriwal has written to the LG to ensure that MCD, DDA and Delhi Police too respond to the directions for redressing grievances.
All this is no doubt commendable. The critical question is about practical and effective implementation. It would be sad if the aroused expectations of the people remain unfulfilled and they are disillusioned, in which case the present wave for corruption-free administration and good governance will lose its momentum and we will be at square one. Excessive zeal and the temptation for histrionics should be avoided. Realism should guide the policies and initiatives of Kejriwal and AAP keeping in mind the wisdom encapsulated in the good old English proverb, “Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.”
Shameless Political Leaders: No politician in any country is a paragon of virtue. We should not expect our politicians to be perfect and be free from common human frailties. However, the insensitivity displayed by some of our ‘representatives of the people’, as they are solemnly called in Supreme Court judgments, was shameless. When hundreds of Muzzafarnagar riot victims are suffering from lack of shelter and food, party leaders had no qualms about partying with Bollywood personalities in glittering attendance and spending lakhs over the vulgar display of fun and frolic. More shameful is the holiday jaunts, euphemistically called study tours, where lakhs are spent without any semblance of study. One wonders what could be learned about democracy in present day Egypt. And did they have to travel to distant lands to study snakes and pythons? The Zoo in Mysore has an excellent collection of reptiles. There is no right of recall of legislators in our Constitution and the laws. Perhaps gheroying these hard-skinned politicians or constantly shaming them in public could be a possible alternative.
Sorabjee is a former Attorney General of India