Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Arvind Kejriwal's (likely) political strategy

Since India won the ICC world cup in 2011, a storm has swept India. Storm of an 'anti-corruption' movement lead by a Gandhian in Anna Hazare. He was supported by people from various walks of life including Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi etc. It started with a bang and a clear target in mind - the ruling party - UPA. Some said it's acting as a front end of one of the opposing parties. RSS was one of the parties mentioned as supporting the 'anti-corruption' movement from the back-end. The ruling party hit back using the strategy known best to mankind - 'If the strength of your enemy lies in unity, try division'. Ironically, Congress slapped corruption charges to individual members of the new christened 'Team Anna'. Other members of the group, though providing support, stayed away from defending corruption charges. The strategy worked to an extent. Some group members garnered political aspirations while the leader had other ideas. Which lead to an unlikely event - split.

Team Anna (social group) became Team Kejriwal (political group). Anna's decision to stay clear of the political group suddenly dented Kejriwal and his supporters to enter politics in a big way.

There are two ways to look at Kejriwal's political move:
  1. To change the system, you have to first be in the system. This adage says it all.
  2. This was the expected climax of the now defunct 'Team Anna'. The idea was to involve as much people as possible, create awareness of 'anti-corruption' movement, blame politicians for being corrupt and eventually be a politician themselves.
Now I was left wondering about the next political step for Arvind Kejriwal. He seems to be a street-smart person with a long term future in Indian politics. There is a ruling party positioned on secularism and an opposition party positioned on Hindutva. There's an emerging third front whose ideologies doesn't belong to either of the top 2 groups. They are currently supporting the ruling party or opposition party or no one (like Trinamool Congress). Team Kejriwal has to fit in somewhere.

For the past one and a half years, Team Anna has targeted the Congress. The mandate is crystal clear. Hence, being a part of the Congress / UPA is out of question. That leaves BJP / NDA. This will add fuel to the earlier assumption of RSS supporting Team Anna's movement from behind. Other scenario would be to lend leadership to the emerging third front. Hey, its Indian politics, anything can happen.

Kejriwal's political strategy: Kejriwal has attacked the Congress family as part of his first big step. Robert Vadra was his first victim. The next big move involved Salman Khurshid. Then it was BJP's turn with Nitin Gadkari. Corporates had their moment in the sun too with Mukesh Ambani being targeted. Kejriwal cannot attack all the parties with corruption charges. He needs support in democracy. I foresee Kejriwal continuing the attack on Congress till the general elections with BJP playing catch-up and the third front waiting to strike when the iron is hot.

What it means:
  1. Congress: Congress is definitely on the back foot here. They know their future is in serious jeopardy. Winning the next election is obviously their top priority. But with so much hate among Indian citizens and issues like price rise, corruption, a 'silent' PM, their chances are slim. They are giving their best shot though. Their weapon - FDI. Wonder how much impact will that have in the near future. Also, with small alliances demanding more, their majority is being questioned. Don't be surprised if there's an early election round the corner.
  2. BJP: They have problems of their own. If UPA hasn't done their bit for the country as ruling party, NDA hasn't done their part as the opposition as well. Disrupting parliament never helps anyone. They also have their own leadership problems to sort now that Gadkari is in the line of fire. They are still clueless as to who will be their PM candidate. A problem of many leaders with PM ambitions. Kejriwal's party has come as a blessing in disguise for them. Having a common enemy in Congress is a huge boost although they don't know how to use this to their advantage.
  3. Supposed 'Third Front': These are regional parties with votes that can swing the result either ways. They are the joker in the pack. Being a group of regional parties, they need a single leader who can contest in the centre. That's one opening Kejriwal could be exploring. However, I still don't believe they will have a significant impact in 2014 elections. But come 2019 (or maybe earlier), they will decide the ruling party. Maybe they will be the ruling party. 
Interesting times ahead for Indian politics.

PS: Writing about politics is risky business. Unless, of course, you have a clear mandate to support one party and / or criticize the other. I am not a supporter of Congress' way of leading the country nor BJP's supporter of Hindutva. And I definitely don't want the 'third front' to emerge. The party that preaches and delivers on good and steady governance with secular ideas will find one supporter in me (Utopian state though). Till that time happens, I will support the parties that I think are 'less corrupt of the lot'.


  1. I agree but did he not know about it when he was with Anna ji, that to change the system one has to be part of it ..

    I genuinly think its gonna just fizzle out.. taking out the might of congress or the BJP in fair elections is a mighty task.. As we see how voting works


    1. It will fizzle out if Kejriwal continues his witch hunt. I feel he should hang onto one corruption issue and provide an apt closure to prove to the people that this guys is interested in correcting the system and not just blaming it.

  2. One thing is, more than just standing out and pointing fingers, it is better that they get into the politics and try and change the system , as they profess. Interesting times indeed.

    1. You are right Ashwini. He has an opportunity to correct the wrong that is happening and introduce a new brand of constructive politics.

      By the way, recently he has named his party "Aam Aadmi Party".

  3. Interesting analyses Binu... one thing bout the Kejriwal brand of politics is that he only seems to raise issues and then moves on to the next, without giving a conclusive end to the issues.

    Considering that public memory is too short and too resilient, I think it'll just adapt to these noises till the novelty factor wears out.. case in point - Modi's ascent irrespective of all the anti Muslim tag - apparently, a lot of Muslims gave him their vote on the back of his 'development' plank.

    1. Yes. We are very short memory. Honestly, I don't know what Kejriwal's current attack is regarding. Just lost the entire plot I guess. Modi's PR seems to be amazing. Within 10 years, the guy has become a PM candidate. It doesnt seem to matter that the guy has Muslim blood on his hands.


All yours..

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