Sunday, January 05, 2014

A Letter to Arvind Kejriwal ji

Dear Arvind Kejriwal ji,

After the trust of the public, you have now won the trust vote in Assembly also. Kudos to you for making history by going from the chief agitator to the Chief Minister of Delhi in just about a year.

A week ago, just after the oath-taking ceremony, you proclaimed that the ‘aam aadmi’ of Delhi has become the CM. While I appreciate your idea of Swaraj to put the power back into the hands of the aam aadmi, you need to recognize that you, being the Chief Minister now, are no longer an aam aadmi. With the authority to take decisions that impact the lives of millions of Delhi-ites vested in you, you are an important person. I won’t call you a Very Important Person (VIP), since you despise that label; and rightly so, given the extent to which VIP culture has infected our daily lives, from traffic lights to temple queues.

It is understandable that you seek to maintain the deep connection with the people that resulted in the exceptional electoral verdict for AAP. But I feel that you have gone overboard in propagating your ‘aam aadmi’ image. Starting from the metro ride to Ramlila Maidan to your rejection of the 5-bedroom apartment as your residence, this is appearing merely symbolic now. By all means, stay in a government bungalow, but also ensure that its gates are open to everyone irrespective of their social or economic status. Whenever somebody would agitate outside your house, if you could offer them water in glasses to drink, and not in canons to bathe, you would more strongly reinforce your ‘aam aadmi’ identity. If you can remain sensitive and responsive to concerns of the common people about their lives, they won’t bother about the number of bedrooms in your house. Living in a big house doesn’t stop one from having a big heart.

However, my sincere hope is that anti-corruption drive, and not shunning the VIP culture, becomes the major highlight of your Government. If you could send the culprits responsible for CWG scam to jail, you would do more justice to the aam aadmi’s sentiments than by riding auto rickshaws to work. Remember that time during Janlokpal agitation when Union Ministers challenged you to get elected and pass the bill yourself. Now that you have accomplished the more difficult first part of the challenge, you have the opportunity to demonstrate the practicability and efficacy of the Janlokpal model. Only a more effectively-working Lokayukta can highlight the weaknesses of the Government’s Lokpal model, which everyone except you has welcomed and celebrated.

You, your party, and now your government, have been receiving disproportionate media attention. Vasundhara Raje, with a three-fourths majority in Rajasthan elections, or Shivraj Singh and Raman Singh, returning to power for a third term, might grudge you for stealing their thunder. But too much of anything is counter-productive, as you might be starting to realize. Even the irregularity of your bowel movements is now being made ‘breaking news’, but that should not distract you from the ambitious mission of “vyavastha parivartan”.

The country has witnessed how you have shifted the political discourse away from personalities to issues, and now you may even set the agenda for 2014 General Elections. Aam Aadmi Party has opened the doors of politics to people with no political lineage, money or muscle power. But the process of systemic change should not stop at cleaning politics, but further extend to overhauling the administrative machinery from the lowest levels of bureaucracy to the highest echelons of power.

Putting transparent governance mechanisms in place would have more far-reaching impact on quality of people’s lives than providing free water or cheaper electricity. And while we are at it, it would be desirable for the want of transparency that your government puts in public domain the deliberations that went into the decisions of water and electricity subsidy, along with the larger action plan on improving the accessibility and affordability of water and electricity. That would not only enrich the raging debate on the implications of these ‘populist’ measures, but also indicate a long-term vision and not just short-term political considerations.

Sir, you now carry the burden of aspirations of many who have placed their trust in you. While some might like to see you fail so that they can shout: “I told you so”, a larger section of the public wishes to see you succeed in what you have started. You have become a symbol of hope for the people who have time and again been let down by the political class. Don't you become just another politician now! Don’t you let us down!

Yours truly,
An Aam Aadmi

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