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Arvind Kejriwal shaking up things – but will this make a difference ?




You know when the Congress party trots out Digvijay Singh to take on somebody who is attacking the party, that it is time for the party to take to the offensive in a way of challenging the credentials of the attacker. It is the point at which the party gives up on using its traditional spokespersons to refute the charges, and instead get the former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh to come in and muddle the issue, and raise aspersions on the person who is attacking the party. Digivijay did this when Anna Hazare threatened the Government, and did this when Baba Ramdev decided to work against the Government. Sometimes, the pitch of his statements goes even beyond what the party could expect, and at that time, the party spokespersons do not defend what he said, but the fact remains that he remains a General Secretary of the party, and even though the party sometimes gets into a pickle when asked about his statements, he remains a General Secretary of the party and an apparent advisor to Rahul Gandhi.
But enough about Digvijay Singh. The problem of corruption in India is not that there is too much of it, but that not enough people are not getting arrested and prosecuted for it. The problem of corruption in India is so huge and the risk so low that the risk reward ratio is highly in favor of those indulging in corrupt policies and practices. If, there were significantly more prosecutions, then more people would worry about getting punished for corruption and all those gains being taken away, and the worry about indulging in corrupt practices would be much higher; this would push many of the more risk averse people away from corruption, which would also mean that the forces against corruption would be much stronger.

India has gone through a large amount of corruption scandals in the recent past, but even for those who have been singled out, there are so many yet left unscathed. Consider the CommonWealth spending, where there was a huge amount of spending. It was easy to single out Suresh Kalmadi, but there are many more people who spent huge and unaccounted money, both in the Delhi Government and in the Urban Ministry, but you don’t hear of any prosecutions; the joke of a CBI could not even push a case against the person in charge of TV rights even though there was a lot of extra spending.
In all this, you wonder as to what Arvind Kejriwal can do ? After all, he has seen the Anna anti-corruption movement lose its overt support from citizens even though they are still very angry at the amount of corruption. But it was also clear to him that without some amount of political power gleaned from popular support, you cannot really do much. You need to show your support from people, especially when they no longer show up at your rallies. How do you that ? You take on an issue that parties really only provide lip support to, namely the corruption indulged in by other parties and try to take on the image of an outsider and hope that people and other stakeholders such as the media pick up on that and identify you as the leader of that movement against corruption.
So that is what he set out to do. First was the blast against Robert Vadra, a blast that shook up the Congress, but such is the fear that many media houses did not do any investigation of such a juicy story for many days; it is only now that media houses have managed to start investigating his rapid rise to riches. But all of us know that it will take something remarkable for anything to happen after this story. Next was the attempt to bring down a person on a high horse, Salman Khurshid, with Aaj Tak doing a story against him. Now, everybody knows that Salman was not going to go down so easily, but he was specially rattled to do such a crazy news conference, which further hurt his image. All of these are points going the way of Kejriwal. Next was his attack of Nitin Gadkari, that seemed to have not had the required impact, but no doubt helped by the Congress, the investigation has caught on a mood of its own and seems to be bringing Gadkari down. Even if you are able to bring down 1 politician out of 5, it is a remarkable change for a country that seems politicians as masters of deflecting enquiries and ensuring that nobody can really impact them.
What will this do for Kejriwal ? Well, for one, both the Congress and the BJP are rattled. The Congress is now trying to use Digvijay Singh, but his reputation is so toast that a number of people do not even listen when Digvijay speaks. The BJP sees Kejriwal getting some of the public support, but still will pick off some of the opposition to the Congress, especially if it manages to get both Himachal and Gujarat. What will Kejriwal do ? For his movement to get more support and be in some position of support, he will have to overcome the sheer power of the established parties and attract more whistle blowers and others who can reveal more acts of corruptions of leaders across political parties.




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