Guest Post by PRAN KURUP
Who is more dangerous for India – Arvind Kejriwal or Narendra Modi? This is a question that India needs to answer. But a recent article titled ‘Arvind Kejriwal: The most dangerous man in India’ has ventured to supply a one-sided answer to this question. The title is as catchy as it is misleading if not subversive. The ensuing ‘analysis’ is sadly not borne out by facts but relies on obfuscation and rhetoric. The tragic outcome is that many pertinent facts have been buried beneath the rubble of unsubstantiated allegations and sinister accusations. On the whole the article is an anti-Kejriwal diatribe disguised as an intellectual treatise.
While conferring on Modi the respectable halo of a “firebrand Hindu nationalist”, the writer goes on to indulge in pure speculation and sweeping generalizations about Kejriwal and other AAP leaders.
Here are some samples:
“Kejriwal spent his time in office preening for the cameras.” Continue reading Is Arvind Kejriwal dangerous for India? Pran Kurup
कैमरा बार बार जा कर उसी क्षण पर टिकता था.मेरी बेटी ने विचलित होकर कहा, “चैनल बदल दो, अच्छा नहीं लग रहा.” लेकिन चैनल उस थप्पड़ की आवाज़ न सुना पाने की लाचारी की भरपाई उस दृश्य को दुहरा-दुहरा कर कर रहे थे. उन्हें सोलह साल की मेरी नवयुवती बेटी की तड़प क्योंकर सुनाई दे? चैनल बदलते अधीर दर्शक इस दृश्य से वंचित न रह जायें, इस चिंता के मारे उसे हथौड़े की तरह बार-बार बजाया गया.
यह हमला था. लेकिन हिंदी में हमला कहने पर हिंसा का बोध अधिक होता है,सो अखबारों ने ‘केजरी को थप्पड़’,‘पहले माला फिर थप्पड़’, ‘केजरीवाल को फिर थप्पड़’ जैसे शीर्षक लगाए. भाषा का अध्ययन करने वाले जानते हैं कि शब्दों के चयन के पीछे की मंशा उनका अर्थ तय करती है. ‘थप्पड़’ कहने से हिंसा की गंभीरता कम होती है और हिंसा के शिकार की कमजोरी ज़्यादा उजागर होती है. थप्पड़ से किसी की जान नहीं जाती, उसकी निष्कवचता अधिक प्रकट होती है. उसमें किसी योजना की जगह एक प्रकार की स्वतःस्फूर्तता का तत्व होता है. कहा जा सकता है कि थप्पड़ मारने वाले की मंशा सिर्फ नाराजगी का इजहार था.अंग्रेज़ी में भी ‘स्लैप’ शब्द का ही इस्तेमाल किया गया, यह भी लिखा गया, “केजरीवाल स्लैप्ड अगेन”. इसमें हमला करने वाले से ज़्यादा हमले के शिकार की ही गलती नज़र आती है, मानो उसे मार खाने की आदत सी पड़ गई हो. आदतन मार खाने वाला सहानुभूति की जगह हास्य का पात्र बन जाता है. Continue reading लोकतंत्र का अंतिम क्षण
An Appeal to Indian Journalist Fraternity by a Group of Media persons, released in Chandigarh, 16 March, 2014
In a terse comment, Aam Aadami Party leader Arvind Kejriwal said that a part of the media, particularly some TV channels “sold itself to Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and is indulging in running a propaganda spree in favor of BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi”. As has happened earlier in many cases relating to deprived and unprivileged sections of the Indian society, that section of media took an undue offence to the comment that was completely out of proportion, and it launched a virulent campaign against AAP. This section of media is peeved at Arvind Kerjriwal’s remarks that if his party came to power, a punitive action would be taken against those media outlets which have been biased in their news coverage and suppressed the anti Modi news stories projecting his false claim to an ‘unparalleled development of Gujarat’.
During his field tour to Gujarat, Kejriwal started taking on Modi , attempting to expose the chinks in ‘Gujarat Vikas’, which according to him, is a ‘hollow projection’ made with ‘active support’ of a section of media. In what could be called an overreaction, a naked anti-Kejriwal slant became a routine affair in the coverage of some media outlets. It is not difficult to smell from the reports and debates of these media outlets that their journalists (by order from above or own their own) have shamelessly started walking in the footsteps of Hitler’s notorious spin doctor Joseph Goebbels, who also did a stint in journalism. Continue reading Naked Bias Threatens Media’s Credibility – A Statement by Some Mediapersons
Let us make no mistake, the Big Media in India does not merely report; it is a player in Indian politics in general and elections in particular.
Now that the debate is out in public it is time to insist on a code of conduct for the media as well. After Arvind Kejriwal’s recent allegations against four television channels that have been blown out of proportion and misrepresented, there has been an uproar. A burst of righteous anger, not only from those accused by Kejriwal of having been bought out by a particular party, but also by professional bodies like the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), the Editor’s Guild, the Broadcast Editors Association (BEA) and other senior journalists.
The NBA, which is a private association, threatened to black out Kejriwal and AAP news and then went on to assert its objectivity and fairness against the “unsubstantiated and unverified allegations” against the news channels.
The BEA said in its statement:
“BEA condemns Arvind Kejriwal’s irresponsible statement on media. BEA believes that electronic media is discharging its responsibility in a fair and objective manner. It is wrong to say that TV channels are pursuing a biased agenda in favour of any person or party. BEA believes that such statements are a conspiracy to dilute the credibility of media. We have strong faith in the self regulatory institutions that electronic media has developed…”
Let us concede for the sake of argument that Arvind Kejriwal went overboard and his statement about ‘jailing mediapersons’ was uncalled for. But does the claim of the BEA, NBA and other bodies really stand up to scrutiny? Is the electronic media really dïscharging its responsibility in a fair and objective manner”? What precisely, may we ask, are the “self regulatory institutions that electronic media has developed” and what have they done by way of reigning in the Indian media that have sunk to new lows in recent years with “paid news”and “advertorials” – not to mention private treaties with big corporations ? We ask the BEA and the NBA and 0ther defenders of the media, is this the ethical behavior they talk of? Is this self-regulation? Maybe Kejriwal’s allegations are “unsubstantiated” in the sense that there is no “proof”, but there is little doubt from the instructions that journalists have been receiving from their bosses, that a lot more than mere reporting is at stake. And just for the record, the the Chairman of one of media houses accused by Kejriwal, Subhash Chandra of Zee News, is currently facing a case of extortion – using his channel’s news-gathering for blackmail. We would love to hear how this qualifies as ‘fair and objective’in the eyes of the BEA and other luminaries. Continue reading Time For a Code of Conduct for Media
Guest Post by N. Balmurli
Delhi chief minister Mr. Kejriwal’s claim that “khaps serve a cultural purpose” reproduces some popular myths about culture and caste. These myths predate AAP and have been put into place over the last few years by official and expert statements in public discourse such that they are now part of a “commonsense” of worldviews about caste and culture.
Consider two other statements made by political figures whose parties are at pains to show how retrograde AAP’s statements are.
Continue reading Of Khap and AAP: Eight Myths about Culture and Caste : N. Balmurli
The Aam Admi Party it seems has now decided to hit back at critics by uploading videos on Youtube to defend the controversial actions of Somnath Bharti, its Law Minister in Delhi done purportedly ‘in public interest’. Bharti has been chastised even by AAP supporters for his vigilantism and for trying to force the Delhi police to raid the house of suspected sex and drug racketeers and who in fact ‘helped’, along with his followers to catch two of the fleeing women.
Eight videos have been uploaded. They, according to the party contain incriminating evidence to prove that sex and drug racketeers were very much active in that area. Reporting the videos The Times of India says “… some of the scenes are not so easy to judge. Two clips show an African national walking around naked in the area. In another, three women in a car are rubbing some substance in their hands. Yet another shows several condoms lying about a car.” .
We do indeed see an African national moving around naked in the video. This is supposed to prove the allegation by the party that drugs are being used as according to one AAP worker “Walking around naked like this is an after-effect of drugs and this is a regular occurrence in the area”. You can also see for yourself condoms lying in the car. Do you need any more evidence to prove that the occupants of the car were indeed prostitutes carrying condoms with them and luring men to indulge in sex? Why are these three women rubbing some substance in their hands or trying to hide something by putting on gloves? Continue reading For the sake of Form
Guest Post by PRATIKSHA BAXI
Following the terrible gang-rape of a Danish woman in Delhi, Chief Minister Mr Kejriwal castigating the police for dereliction of duty pronounced his theory about how rape tendencies form. We are told that rape tendencies flow from drug and sex rackets; and when police corruption sustains these rackets, rates of gangrape are bound to escalate. Rape in this formulation is not an expression of sexualized power or preferred and targetted male violence against women. Rather it is linked to a series of vices located in certain geographies, circuits, substances and bodies, which produce a specific form of sexual venality. And, the technique of “raid” is a privileged form of sexual governance.
To sustain the technique of raid (or sting operations) as the privileged form of governance to stem sexual violence, a certificatory genealogy is instituted. A leader of AAP recites his gender credentials by tracing raid governance to the “damini” protests and experiences of state violence during these anti–rape protests. Mallika Sarabhai’s gender credentials are now interrogated by citing her purported absence from the “damini” protests. Some of us who did not experience police violence during the protests are now vulnerable to the charge of faking our commitment to the anti–rape movement, since certification comes from one kind of participation in the “damini” protests. However, can the badge of being invested in the kind of transformative politics required to challenge rape culture be so easily earned? When men participate in anti–rape protests, we are expected to applaud them and not feel offended when they deride women like Mallika Sarabhai who risked their being to speak against rightist manifestations of sexual impunity and immunity in Gujarat. Continue reading The Politics of Raid Governance – Aam Aurat v. Khas Aurat: Pratiksha Baxi
I have no issues with anyone using dharnas as a political strategy, whether or not they are the Chief Minister. The “inconvenience” and “dignity of office” arguments being made by some also hold little truck with me. I write here then to mark my dissent on three specific fronts against the recently concluded AAP dharna from a different vantage point. As with all thoughts on things emergent, they are offered in the making with all their attendant uncertainties.
Continue reading Notes of Dissent on the AAP Dharna
पिछले कुछ समय से नागार्जुन और हरिशंकर परसाई की याद बेइंतहा सता रही है: भारतीय राजनीति के इस दौर का वर्णन करने के लिए हमें उनकी कलम की ज़रूरत थी !
क्रान्ति सतत चलने वाली प्रक्रिया है और असली विद्रोही वह है जो छह महीने बाद अपनी कुर्सी खुद उलट दे. आम आदमी पार्टी और दिल्ली सरकार के मुखिया ने केंद्र सरकार के खिलाफ़ बगावत की शुरुआत की,तो ऐसा ही लगा. दिल्ली के केंद्र में रेल भवन के पास दिल्ली की पूरी सरकार अपने समर्थकों के साथ दस दिनों के धरने पर बैठ गए. उन्होंने धमकी दी कि वे राजपथ को लाखों लोगों से पाट देंगे और केंद्र सरकार की नींद हराम कर देंगे.किसान और सैनिक जब मिल जाएं तो क्रांति शुरू हो जाती है. इसकी पैरोडी करते हुए अरविंद ने दिल्ली के पुलिसवालों को वर्दी उतार कर धरने पर शामिल होने का आह्वान किया. कुछ लोगों को जयप्रकाश नारायण की याद आ गई. एक साथ लेनिन, लोहिया,क्रोपाटकिन और जयप्रकाश का तेज अरविंद केजरीवाल के रूप में पुंजीभूत हुआ. गांधी का आभा वलय अन्ना हजारे से हट कर अरविंद के माथे के पीछे पीछे तो तब ही लग गया था जब उनका भरपूर इस्तेमाल कर ठिकाने लगा दिया गया. क्या यह 2014 का भारतीय तहरीर चौक होने जा रहा है?
दिल्ली के मुख्य मंत्री ने एक बार फिर आज़ादी की नई लड़ाई की घोषणा की.यह दृश्य क्रांतिकारियों,समाजवादियों,अराजकतावादियों, सबके के लिए एक पुराने सपने के पूरा होने जैसा ही था. एक पुरानी, दबी हुई इच्छा के पूरा होने का क्षण!यह आज़ादी झूठी है वाले नारे , वंदे मातरम और भारत माता का जयकार से रोमांचित होने का सुख!! Continue reading सतत क्रान्ति की पैरोडी
If ideology-warriors had their way, they would rather have Narendra Modi as the next prime minister than have their ideological purity compromised. Soon after AAP’s victory, many secularists rushed to declare, on Facebook and elsewhere, that they do not and will not partake of the AAP euphoria. ‘What is their stand on communalism?’, they asked indignantly. Some other friends insisted that Muslims need an assurance about AAP’s position on communalism and it should clarify its stand if it wanted the Muslim vote.
So what do the ideology warriors want? Just when the political agenda for the elections has decisively changed, throwing the BJP into a complete quandary, upsetting its strategic plans, they want the old familiar, secular/ communal divide back in place, opening up the political field once more to the same Hindu-Muslim polarization that we are so used to. The secular/ communal divide has been the millstone around our neck, preventing any other issue from being brought into public debate at election time and effectively preventing the emergence of any new force or formation. And let there be no mistake that in a communal polarization of Hindus and Muslims, secular forces will always, in the on-going drama of secular masochism, have to deposit themselves tied hand and foot, into the Congress party’s dungeon. The Amit Shahs will have a field day, creating one Muzaffarnagar after another, and erstwhile secular mascots like Mulayam Singh Yadav will vie with them in further entrenching the Hindu-Muslim divide. In all of this, the Congress will present itself as the saviour of Muslims.
The Congress, the BJP, the imaginary ‘third front’ – all have been able players and winners in this game. Continue reading AAP and the Ideology Warriors
The plot of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ can be summarized in a single sentence – “This novel demonstrates the consequences of the addition of four important words -‘but’, ‘some’, ‘more’, and ‘others’ to the phrase – <all animals are equal>”.
In other words, it describes the transition from the axiomatic statement <all animals are equal> to the qualified formula <all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others>.
Aam Aadmi Party founder and Delhi’s new chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s ruling out the possibility of referendums in Kashmir about the presence of the armed forces in Jammu & Kashmir (in response to his party colleague Prashant Bhushan’s endorsement of the idea of such a referendum during a recent television appearance) could signify a shift within the Aam Aadmi Party’s evolving political doctrine that parallels the transition that the pigs in Animal Farm made while turning their revolution into a counter-revolution. Continue reading The Aam Aadmi Party and Animal Farm
Arvind Kejriwal is the new Sachin Tendulkar. You throw him the most difficult googly and he sweeps it to add runs for his century. In 2011, he started a national anti-corruption movement with the specific aim of setting up an anti-corruption ombudsman called Lokpal. The movement’s public face and leader was Anna Hazare, a respected social leader, who like Gandhi, believes in fasting for politics. The critics said Anna is just a puppet and it’s Kejriwal’s movement, and that such sophistry showed Kejriwal (who takes oath as chief minister of Delhi tomorrow) had sinister motives.
Kejriwal’s critics said that fasting unto death was a blackmail strategy not suited to a democracy. Kejriwal can’t have a Lokpal just because he wants it. His popular support is just media hype. If he really wants a Lokpal, why doesn’t he form a political party and contest elections?
Kejriwal’s critics said he was supported by the RSS and the BJP, that he is a BJP stooge, that the Lokpal movement was a right-wing conspiracy to remove pristine, super-secular, people-loving, chosen-by-god Congress party from power. Continue reading Arvind Kejriwal, master-blaster
There is nothing novel about new parties upsetting the two-party binary. We have seen that happen through the process of Mandalisation in many states. But all those new parties have come up in the name of one or more identities caste, community, region. The BJP is the Brahmin-Bania party of Hindu nationalism. The BSP is the party of the Dalits, the JD(U) of the Kurmis, the BJD of Odisha. Many of these parties don’t have ambitions to rival the Congress or the BJP on the national stage.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is an exception in that its central ideology is good governance. This helps it escape identity politics. At the same time, the AAP embraces identity politics like everyone else does: its symbol, the broom, was from day one targeted at the Valmikis. Be it Muslims or Dalits or Brahmins, the AAP quietly takes note of identity politics and gives lip service, even as the party as a whole does not identify itself with any one community. The only other party which handles identity politics this way is the Congress. Continue reading Why AAP is the new Congress
Guest Post by SATYA SAGAR
From time to time in the history of every nation there emerges a maverick force that collapses the existing system by taking its logic to the extremes. Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party are precisely that, a ‘wild card’ in Indian politics, threatening to turn it upside down in ways no one could have imagined before.
Ever since they were born out of the throes of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, a couple of years ago, everyone has tried to slot the AAP in the regular political categories of right, left and center. Some have dubbed the Aam Aadmi Party as the ‘new Congress’ and others as the ‘B Team’ of the BJP. Supporters of the party have hailed its leader Arvind Kejriwal as a ‘modern day Gandhi’ while one opponent has intriguingly called his party ‘right wing Maoists’! Continue reading Aam Aadmi, Khaas Politics: Satya Sagar
Guest post by ARADHANA SHARMA
I have often wondered about the place of women in all the current talk about the aam aadmi. Is she included in this expansive and apparently un-gendered discourse that claims to represent every ordinary citizen? Who speaks for her and how? And what does this tell us about the gendered, dare I say patriarchal, nature of the contemporary discourse on democratic transformation?
Congress’ claims on the political symbol aside, the aam aadmi’s recent resurgence has much to do with Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. Be it the mobilizations around the RTI Act or Lokpal Bill, the Gandhian cap or Kejriwal’s new party, the aam aadmi’s durdasha and a fight for his rights are front and center in political debate today. The largely male leadership of ongoing agitations for governance reform and their critics rarely talk about women or gender concerns specifically. They assume, it seems, that women are automatically included under the common man category and therefore are spoken for each time the figure of the ordinary citizen is invoked.
So imagine my surprise, when, during an NDTV show titled “The Kejriwal School of Politics,” gender issues within governance were raised directly, if fleetingly. Continue reading Finding Women among “Common Men”: Aradhana Sharma
The tide is clearly turning. You know this when former critics and lampooners start talking of him as a ‘game changer’; you know this when weather-cocks turn away from the corridors of power where once they had been ensconced. You know this when rats start deserting the sinking ship.
Suddenly, everybody is talking favourably about the man from the ‘outside’ who is refusing to respect any of the established protocols of protest and politics. More startling perhaps, is the fact that in the past two days we have had senior journalists and political analysts suddenly telling us that they had known all along that there was a ‘post 1980 contract’, a secret code of silence, that never would the dynasty be attacked – indeed never would any apsiring dynasty be attacked. Everybody knew, says Dipankar Gupta in the Times of India, that the issue came up one and a half years ago – and we all do know that. Robert Vadra’s doings had already been known. A senior BJP leader is even reported to have told a senior journalist that his party had indeed been in possession of the very same documents that Arvind Kejriwal brandished at his press conference. But, this leader went to say, “after an intense discussion, the leadership decided not to rake up the issue in Parliament even after submitting a motion in each House asking for a discussion.” Everybody knew – the parties, their leaders, the media persons, political analysts. And yet, nobody spoke out. All of them colluded, in other words, in suppressing the issue. Politicians kept silent for an understandable reason – aspiring dynasties that they are, after all. But the others? Mediapersons? Any guesses?
As someone who has been trying to understand Indian politics over the decades, I have often wondered at what I have referred to as the ‘implosion of the political’ – that is to say, the destruction of politics in the formal political domain. What is called a noora kushti in Hindustani, had come to mark our parliamentary-political grammar. Farcical walk-outs after equally farcical fire-spouting rhetorical speeches in parliament, and a happy bonhomie away from the glare of the media – that was what our politics had been reduced to.
Continue reading The (Ir)resistible Rise of Arvind Kejriwal – Enter The ‘Outsider’