Sitting right beside a bunch of agitated people protesting against a corrupt administration gives you a different feeling. I am talking about the agitation by the Aam Aadmi Party volunteers outside Bhajanpura police station at 11.30 on the night of 19th June against the detention of 18 AAP volunteers.
Arvind Kejriwal had just reached there and was talking to some of his party members. This man has promised a lot and is actively engaged in most of the protests Delhi has seen in the last one year. My thoughts went back a few months.
Earlier in April, Arvind Kejriwal had started a fast against inflated charges in electricity and water bills. He broke off his fifteen days of fast, concluding first phase of his civil disobedience movement against inflated electricity bills in Delhi. The fifteen days journey commemorated anniversaries of two distinct days in our freedom struggle for two very distinct but contrasting icons of freedom movement. He started his fast on March 23, Bhagat Singh’s Martyr day. A radical revolutionary, whose vision of freedom struggle was contrary to various contemporary freedom fighters. The end day of his fast which was April 6 marks the Gandhian understanding of civil disobedience- the day Gandhi broke the salt law. Fast as a protest and a political tool was utilized to its best by both the leaders of the past, and now Kejriwal formulated it in his protest as a way to urge the masses. His second phase of movement is more complicated as it tried to violate a legal statute. Delhi Government blamed him for spreading anarchy and lawlessness in Delhi by violating law and order of the land.
Arvind kejriwal’s movement in many terms was notional yet inclusive in concept. It bore more semblances to social activism rather than a political movement. He sat on fast to fade out people’s fear against the law to determine and demand their own rights, asking people not to pay hiked electricity bill to show dissent to the corruption in the country. His demand turned out to be a Litmus test for the people of Delhi- a political decision to be made by the people on a crucial social issue. The non-payment of electricity bills was surely a political stand to be taken by people in an attempt to socialize the cause and impact of corruption on our democracy. It got exemplary response from lower class of people across the state; predominately in slums and squatter areas, with 1 million signatory vowing not to pay their bills. Quite probably 1 million people may not have complied with the appeal, even though they are signatory as it would had been a tough call for them to work against the law.
Still it won’t be an exaggeration to say he succeeded in his assay to shake off people’s fear to voice against the perceived corruption. After all, Kejriwal was not demanding anything from the political classes; in turn he was asking the common citizen to fight for their legitimate rights. It was also an appeal for ordinary citizens to move ahead of ‘Government will take care of it’ attitude. The acceptance of his demand by more than 1 million people probably gives credence to this new political disposition. A disposition where people have to take stand against the very corrupt political structure they have helped to create.
His appeal to youths in particular and masses in general to join the revolution for an alternative political leadership to the current mainstream politicians echoed the ideas of Bhagat Singh; whereas his call for civil disobedience movement was pertinent to Gandhian ideology. His aim and demand were probably, an amalgamation of Bhagat Singh and Gandhi’s mode of functioning. A strategically preferred political orientation to symbolize the social nature of his movement. Both Gandhi and Bhagat Singh epitomize two distinct and dissimilar characters and ideology, yet their nationalistic approach unite them in the psyche of ordinary citizens. Kejriwal has coalesced their positive identities and has incorporated them as an integral part in his current movement. Kejriwal also melded volatile nationalistic sentiments with un-organised public outrage against corruption.
The dummy run for this year’ss assembly elections has begun. Arvind Kejriwal and his team have begun a political struggle where national ethos are matched with the problems on ground-two powerful concepts that can unite people from classes which vote most in Indian democracy.
Source: 1st Image: IANS, 2nd & 3rd Image – Taken by the Author