Darbari Politics: Do Not Go Overboard, Mr. Kejriwal!

Emperors or Kings of ancient and medieval India used to have their ‘darbar’ or ‘courts’ to hear and address the subjects’ problems. These autocratic monarchs had full authority to decide action or punishment on the spot and nobody dared question the verdicts. However, modern Indian democracy is much more different, and Arvind Kejriwal’s brand of ‘common man rule’ is the extreme contrast with everybody having the right to ask, question or contest. Besides, Indian mob behavior is only too predictably well known. In an almost unmanageably overpopulated country plagued by unemployment and inflation the huge crowds at the employment exchanges, freebie events and public transport stations are only to be seen to be believed. And then the ‘me first’ mentality has been a constant witness to innumerable stampedes at religious places, fatal road accidents and huge traffic snarls. Having a Chief Minister within a touching distance you can lucidly imagine how desperately the crowd would behave. Therefore, the common man’s Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal’s decision or promise to have ‘janta darbar’ or ‘people’s court’ to hear and redress problems on the spot was fraught with dangers from the start. Yesterday on Saturday, the utter chaos of his first attempt of ‘janta darbar’ proved the point beyond doubt. He had to escape from the desperate ‘janta’ by canceling the hearing and had to apologize later expressing his fear of ‘being crushed by the crowd otherwise’. However, he stuck to his promise saying that next time suitable arrangements would be in place. Alas!

As per his most important anti-corruption agenda-related promise Arvind Kejriwal launched the Corruption Helpline in Delhi on Wednesday, 8th of January and in the first three days it received nearly 15,000 complaints. So far so very good. Normally, a Helpline is supposed to ‘help’ the callers or complainants and not ask/solicit their help. But this Helpline demands the complainants to execute a sting thus providing crucial ‘evidence’ against the ‘guilty’ parties to the government. Now, how a complainant is supposed to do a sting is left to the imagination of the unspecified. Cynics would say that this compulsion of doing a sting is set to initiate another corruption racket with complainants trying to hire ‘resourceful’ professionals for the job at minimum cost implying a chain of bargaining or influence, not to say about how the stressed police or the overburdened courts are going to view or review such precious sting ‘evidence’ eventually. The inherent dangers involved in this system are well imaginable. Fighting corruption in India is extremely difficult and therefore the way to fight it must be foolproof. Sticking to his promise Kejriwal on Friday replaced the normal number with a friendlier four-digit number, which is 1031. Alas!

Considering the tremendous euphoria and hope all over the country following Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) coming to power in Delhi with big shots from almost all fields including industry, IT, electronic media and the arts joining the AAP fold, Arvind Kejriwal must tread very carefully controlling his populism and fulfillment of election agenda impulses, and not to go overboard. He also must understand that the big and established political parties are waiting patiently for a huge AAP mistake so as to expose the ‘common man rule’. They would be too overjoyed if they get a chance to expose before the General Elections in April-May, 2014.


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