Arvind Kejriwal, left behind by the middle class



I don’t know if you have noticed but today, Friday 5 April, is the 14th day of Arvind Kejriwal’s indefinite fast. Kejriwal has lost 8.5 kilos and as a diabetic, his condition must give cause for concern. Today’s HT quotes a diabetes specialist as saying that the acid level in his body is rising. The specialist adds, “Acidified blood is entering everywhere and this will have a negative influence on all organs, including the brain. It is not at all advisable to continue the fast.”

It is not as though Kejriwal’s fast has passed entirely unnoticed. The fast is part of a civil disobedience movement against power and water bills. According to a statement issued by Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, 9.6 lakh people in Delhi have signed a petition vowing not to pay inflated power or water bills.

And yet, at one level, the fast has indeed passed unnoticed. Only a year ago, if Kejriwal had declared that he was going on an indefinite fast, television channels would have interrupted regular programming to offer continuous coverage of the fast. The Kejriwal story would have been the main headline on the front pages of every newspaper in the country, not tucked away on some inside page, as it is these days.

So, why do the media care much less about Kejriwal and his activities now than they did a few months ago?

You could argue that this is to do with the issues he is protesting about. Perhaps the demand for a Lok Pal Bill had a greater resonance than his current complaints about inflated power charges. But I am not so sure. If the Lok Pal debate was so powerful and popular an issue then why is it hardly covered by the media these days? And surely, the issue of inflated bills hits every consumer of media where it hurts the most: the pocket. So, I don’t think that Kejriwal has fallen from public favour only because of the issues.

It could be, as Kejriwal himself seems to believe, that the media began to take a less charitable view of his activities when he started to attack industrialists and media proprietors over secret assets. Kejriwal’s supporters say that the media are unwilling to back a man who attacks advertisers and media owners.

It could also be that the movement Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan launched three years ago lost its sheen once their figurehead, Anna Hazare, parted ways with them. Perhaps the internal dissensions within Team Anna, as the media liked to call the movement, contributed to the general lack of interest in Kejriwal and his activities.

One other possibility is the simplest one of all: fatigue. Every story has a certain life cycle. And when that cycle ends, the story runs out of energy and the media move on. Once upon a time, when Kejriwal and his colleagues went to meet ministers to consider revisions in clauses of the Lok Pal Bill, such meetings were accorded the status of global summits between the world’s most powerful men. But now, public interest, fickle as always, has moved on and nobody cares.

There is yet another theory, which I personally do not accept, but which sections of the Congress subscribe to. This theory holds that while Kejriwal, Hazare, and the others may well have been sincere about their protests, the crowds at their gatherings consisted of Sangh Parivar supporters. The Parivar did not just provide the crowds, the so-called volunteers and the financing but it also used its contacts in mainstream media and its control rooms in social media to promote the movement.

But now, say Congressmen, the Parivar has achieved its objective. It has used Kejriwal and his men to damage the government. With the UPA on the defensive, confused and wounded, the Parivar can now go ahead with its real agenda: the promotion of Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders who seem like strong alternatives to the damaged Congress. According to this theory, Kejriwal has outlived his usefulness to the Parivar. So, there are no crowds. There is no media blitz. And the Parivar teams on social media have lost interest in him.

But there is yet another explanation and it seems to me to make the most sense. For over a decade, the Indian middle-class saw unparalleled prosperity. As incomes grew, so did the numbers of the middle class: millions more were added to this class year after year. But there was a social compact between the politicians and the middle class. It was taken for granted that the middle class would count for nothing in terms of electoral politics. The middle class did not mind this exclusion because times were good and incomes were rising.

When the global economy hit a road-block and India slipped into recession, that social compact broke down. The middle class was no longer guaranteed a constantly improving standard of living. If the politicians could not deliver prosperity, then, said the middle class, why should it tolerate its exclusion from the political system? This turnaround led to the explosion of middle-class anger we saw on TV, on social media and most notably in the Hazare movement. The politician became the villain because he had failed to deliver middle-class prosperity (“bad governance”) and the middle class searched for non-political solutions.

That phase has now ended. The middle class has realized that nothing really changes in India unless you take electoral politics seriously. So the focus has shifted to elections, to political parties and to new alternatives from within the system, to the likes of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi.

Kejriwal and his colleagues have tried to fit in with this shift by launching their own political party. But the middle class has not taken kindly to the transformation. As long as Kejriwal attacked politicians, they loved him. But once he became a politician himself, his utility ended. If the media are going to focus on change brought out by politicians, then why not go with the big boys, the Modis and the Rahuls? Why waste time on a newbie and a minnow like Kejriwal?

It is significant that Kejriwal’s current fast is not taking place in the centre of Delhi. Instead he has chosen to fast on the edge of east Delhi in a place called Sunder Nagri and most of the people who have come to see him are not middle class but belong to the city’s vast underclass. Perhaps Kejriwal has caught their imagination. And perhaps they are the ones who will vote for him.

Because the middle class certainly won’t bother; its denizens have moved on.

(Arvind Kejriwal has announced he will end his hunger strike on April 6)

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  • Anonymous

    I think Kejriwal started attacking all his friends. That was the reason. First Kiran Bedi, then veiled reference to Hazare. Then of course the proprietors of media.

    So difficult for him to get his message to the masses now.

    [Reply]

    dheeraj Reply:

    Guys, pls think that after so many decades, India got some sort of stability with 2 poles of parties (BJP & Khangress) so Indians will never let other party(without any principles & planning) come into center-stage in just 1 year time only b’coz AAM aadmi party is 1 year baby without tried & tested unlike Khangress (124 yrs) & BJP (50 yrs) so any new party takes whopping 20 yrs to take the shape in any country with their credentials among the masses so ‘Khujliwal’ must know this fact and leave day dreaming….Infact any business take that much time to shape and produce some dividends.

    Indians will never let aam aadmi party to come on center stage as it will destruct Indian state much badly and also will make 3rd party system in center cutting Khangress & BJP badly and will destroy 2 party system in India and it will destroy Nation’s unity & stability badly from outside enemy country.

    As the India is developing in crucial stage to the 21st century fastly and in current scenario allowing 3rd party system in the center will create mass chaos from the point of view country’s economics & economically as tried & tested “BJP & Khangress” can take the challenge to raise country unlike aam aadmi party without any experience, principles & plans is a blunder to great our country politically & economically.

    So better “Khuliwal” go to hell but mother India must be saved.

    [Reply]

    chetan Reply:

    who the hell are you- to decide that a 3rd oarty is not an option? And as if these 2 “businesses” arent looting the country now ..

    [Reply]

    abc Reply:

    yeah right. Modi is looting India through Gujarat right? That’s what you Khujliwal supporters have to talk about right?

    Drinkwithme Reply:

    U may be rite but he did what he had to at that point in time. Kiran and Anna for some unknown reason didn’t support him. So he needed to communicate with the public abt his differences with his own team leads who backstabbed him. And abt the industrialists and media, I’ve not heard of it. But if its true, then what’s wrong??? He still did the rite thg standing upto his principles. Unfortunately in any country, the media is as corrupted as the politicians. Most of the media houses are either funded by politicians or bought over. In this scenario it’s a lost battle. But still, there is a glimmer of hope in the form of social media (Facebook, twitter) who don’t filter out anything and provide platforms for free speech. Ppl shud use them effectively in countries like India to form huge gatherings and support ppl like Arvind. Honestly that’s all Arvind can hope for. I feel so sorry for him. Ppl do hv priorities but at least they shud come out and show the support in the open in large numbers. Signing petitions like they did in this case may not serve any purpose. End of the day they’re sheep and will continue to pay their bills and move on with their lives.

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  • shobhit

    his strategy is at fault, tearing away bills is unlawful and people wont support it

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  • rajesh

    kejriwal did not deliver any value … he was all talk and no real results. just like anna.

    [Reply]

    shubham Reply:

    By fasting, he is filled with gas. That is what comes out when he speaks.
    In this way, there is some similarity between BJP & Kejriwal.

    [Reply]

  • Santosh

    Oh Mr. Sanghvi, is is because Mr. Kejriwal attacks your puppet master Ambani (Radia tapes anyone?!) that you disregard his protest? When was the last time one million signatures were signed by the people of Delhi with a completely hostile media opposing his every move at the behest of crony capitalists who run your organizations? Never is the answer you are looking for.

    PS: By the way Gandhi and Modi are alternatives?!!! You just killed whatever credibility you may have had. Please stick to reviewing restaurant on Brunch, That is what you are only good for.

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    dhruv.jimmy@gmail.com Reply:

    you’re missing the point Santosh. Surely you’re not expecting a clean, clear, educated, decent, not greedy for money or fame, universally diplomatic politician from change? cause they don’t make those.

    choosing between those two could be better than having a weak, a half heart hero who doesn’t look at the whole picture. not saying those 2 are any good. but they’re better than the pack of wolves below them. most (not all) of the lower house is governed by hypocrites with narrow views and old rigid traditional attitudes on everything. we have business, religious and traditional people mostly(not all), with very few leadership skills.

    notice the problem with our ways is that we have thousands of things happening everyday, the more they happen, the more our focus keeps shifting to different issues. with no concentration (unlike rape) on 1 thing until it’s banished!

    [Reply]

    dhruv.jimmy@gmail.com Reply:

    you’re missing the point Santosh. Surely you’re not expecting a clean, clear, educated, decent, not greedy for money or fame, universally diplomatic politician from change? cause they don’t make those.

    choosing between those two could be better than having a weak, a half heart hero who doesn’t look at the whole picture. not saying those 2 are any good. but they’re better than the pack of wolves below them. most (not all) of the lower house is governed by hypocrites with narrow views and old rigid traditional attitudes on everything. we have business, religious and traditional people mostly(not all), with very few leadership skills.

    notice the problem with our ways is that we have thousands of things happening everyday, the more they happen, the more our focus keeps shifting to different issues. with no concentration (unlike rape) on 1 thing until it’s banished!

    [Reply]

    Chetan Reply:

    lol – I so agree with this reply. .

    [Reply]

  • smart

    Dhekte jaoo election main Arvind jee hi jitenge. Sachai ki raste main chalna muskil hota hai lekin akhir main jeet sachai ki hi hoti hai

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  • dhruv.jimmy@gmail.com

    change 1 thing at a time. not the whole system overnight. “change the world, one thing at a time”.

    [Reply]

  • mani

    Mr Vir, do read Outlook article:
    The Vir Sanghvi- Niira Radia Tapes

    Many of powerbrokers are missing ‘good old crony days’ or fearful of rough no-money futhre India.

    [Reply]

  • shubham

    India is not in recession inspite of the fact that global economy has slipped and fallen face down. It is inevitable under the circumstances that the growth rate has come down. The manufacturing has come down as countries who buy India’s products have no funds to pay for the same but our thirst for oil has grown and the import of which pulls our economy down. Perhaps Modi has an alternative; he has declared that he is half full of gas and if all BJP-wallas let out gas publicly , our gas bill will go down. ELECT BJP; the economy will improve by letting out gas in all public places.

    [Reply]

    gandhibaba@gmail.com Reply:

    Mullah# ji ab to bak bak band karo, mummy se daddy ji ka naam to pucho

    [Reply]

    Responsible Indian Reply:

    oye gandhi ke dalle, apni bak waas bandh kar aur ek sacha naagrik bann. people like u are a BLOT on this system. first tell ur khujliwal to reach anywhere near modi

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  • http://twitter.com/KukuduKoo KukuduKoo

    How many of us have truly ‘heard’ what Arvind is saying? First read his book or at least this review – ‘The agony & ecstasy of Arvind Kejriwal’ at http://bookrecommendations.org/swaraj-by-arvind-kejriwal/

    [Reply]

  • umesh

    why these pseudo journalists think they know best of everything , they dont pay their from their own pocket ,its middle class who is suffering the utilities bills are more than household grocery expense total …. Congress should be voted out

    [Reply]

  • raju

    Ambani, Ambani, Ambani

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  • Debu

    There is perhaps another reason which has not been carried in this piece. Probably citizens of the country expected Kejri to stand outside the political system and be its critic, holding a lamp to all the dark deeds that India’s politics accepts as routine. Instead, Kejri swallowed the bait thrown by the political parties: that his challenge was to prove that people were with him by winning elections. He formed Aam Admi Party with dreams of winning elections while this makes Kejri just as another politician with ambition in the eyes of the ordinary citizen: how can he. And if he is just another politician, how can he distance himself from the corruption that keeps the political system running?

    [Reply]

  • Puneet

    That blogs reads more like a gossip without any substance and facts..

    [Reply]

  • Madhu

    If nothing else, this movement has shown that every single newspaper and media house in this country is dishonest just like most of our politicians. If we can’t count on them to even do their job of reporting without bias and fear, then it is better that we know about it now rather than falsely consider them the 4th pillar of democracy. They have made it clear that they are not. What a shame for the largest democracy of this country. As for the blog, it’s just another piece of opinion that nobody cares about. The only reason anybody read it in the first place is because it appeared as one of the links when we googled “Arvind Kejriwal”. Your 2 minutes of fame ends here.

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  • nisar

    Saheb…middle class ki abhi aapko samajh nahin hai. Bade bade alternatives fail ho gaye hain Kejriwal k saamne.

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  • nisar

    Saheb…middle class ki abhi aapko samajh nahin hai. Bade bade alternatives fail ho gaye hain Kejriwal k saamne.

    [Reply]

  • johnD

    What do you expect where you have people roaming free as ‘journalists’ when they should be behind the bar long time back?

    [Reply]

  • Raj

    Honestly speaking. Does it hold any good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! today.

    [Reply]

  • Bangalore

    Last year we supported Anna and his team, but they have shown arrogance in accepting what they were getting from govt.Now middle class feel betrayed and puzzled.

    [Reply]

  • Javed

    it is simple at this juncture India needs a PM like Modi. Who delivers prosperity to everyone who works hard irrespective of caste, creed, religion, sex etc etc (what ever vote banks exist)

    Kejriwal hasnt done much – although a good man & capable individual. Maybe he is fit to be as an advisor in Modi’s central govt panel

    [Reply]

    yogesh Reply:

    modi should assist kejriwal

    [Reply]

    Responsible Indian Reply:

    that was the worst joke, of a father assisting a kid!!

    [Reply]

  • http://twitter.com/khuranaabhisek abhishek khurana

    media is not covering it this time – don’t know for what reasons, they cover rahul gandhi vs narendra modi, itna to woh apne baare main sochte bhi nahi honge jitnaa media soch leta hai

    [Reply]

  • Yoginder

    In India even media has been bought. As soon as the current foreign minister threatened to sue the media, they stopped giving news about Anna and Kejriwal.No media channel had the guts to further explore what was charged against the current foreign minister. Media didn’t have courage to stand behind their news . How can you expect to make changes in the society when the media is equally corrupt. We had seen some news regarding Zee TV officials. Media is also only after money. They are not practicing true journalism.

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  • http://twitter.com/khuranaabhisek abhishek khurana

    reading your stuff make me think of – have keyboard, will type.
    Poor us we have to choose between worse and worst, bad to aap pehle likhte the

    [Reply]

  • common man

    modi modi modi,gandhi gandhi gandhi ,kejriwal kejriwal kejriwal,i dont understand why are we highlighting this as problem , when there are bigger real problems in India which is affecting our countrymen like drought in vidarbha where my brothers are dying or in Punjab where my young brothers are losing there youth becoz of drugs or in Gujarat where if you dont earn money you are not human,or in north east where my countries young soldier is dying ,just because our stupid government is not showing concerns for our borders, In capital my sisters arent because safe becoz some people consider law as there nanny and about my middle class families one thing i know for sure is that last thing which concern there mind right now is election on who will win, because first thing they want is to win is there income and then anything else ,so stop bitching my fellow commenters ,becoz what veer sanghvi write is just read by people like us,who have nothing to do but just sit on a chair in front of a screen and think “aree have i paid my internet bill or should i take money from papa” so guys stop even looking vir sanghvi’s blog or what modi said today,or what arvind or gandhi said,and start commenting and highlighting real problems which efects my country ,your country,our country “INDIA”

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  • R K Singh

    Oh Mr Sanghvi, you talked everything except the paid media. Almost one year back media decided not to cover him and still they are doing the same. Its just paid media who is not covering him. Come out and feel the heat of AK with public at any public function.
    Not allowing media to cover him is fake victory by other political parties in the proxy war but I am sure Ak has already won this. (election result is not authority to prove that but still after Delhi election I will wait for your blog.)

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  • jitendra

    AAP will sweep the elections !!

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  • Chetan

    ohh you Sanghvi, you still haven’t washed hands off paid news .. if Rahul Gandhi is an alternative you should hang your head in shame… the thought that that confused heir with no brains can be our next PM raises my hair .. . people like you who have sold there souls for money . .. .How much of it do you really need to sustain a living -a life ??
    Everyone can see that and you know that too that the pol-khol on Mukesh Ambani was the reason Media blocked Arvind Kejriwal, what else explains the fact that immediately after his press conference- every media outlet suddenly stopped showing content from Kejriwal .. IT IS DOWN TO ZERO COVERAGE

    And still I remain an idealist- AAP will win in Delhi and that will inspire an entire generation of Indians to vote for AAP

    You just wait and watch!

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    bajwa Reply:

    keep dreaming. we wont allow communist to win in india.

    [Reply]

  • TRUTH

    SANGHVI, THE “ANTI-NATIONAL” CLOWN…

    [Reply]

  • Indian

    The nation stands solidly behind Kejriwal, Anna and all those wanting to breathe freely without having to suffer because of corruption, abnormal prices, worst law and order situations. This article written looks politically motivated. Let all Indians support actions aimed at relieving the people of India b y anyone who does so.

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  • JAWAR NARROW

    Let us wait and watch

    [Reply]

  • AC (Delhi)

    I’m sorry to say that although I respect Arvind Kejrival & the issues he raises…I do not agree with his ways…the only thing he is achieving here is spoiling his health big time….he says we should not pay the bills, then they will cut our electricity, charge extra for late payments, probably lead to court cases etc…we have a family, young children…are we supposed to go without electricity for days…this is no way…he should work at readying his party for the CM elections in Delhi…..I would vote for him & I am sure a lot of others who are sick of Shiela Dixit…but this is no way…Talk to the people in Delhi, tell us how you will solve our problems…then we will vote for you.

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  • normal sochne wala

    Mr.Sanghavi..u missed the entire point of this movement..and yes Middle class is watching and they will trigger the ballet on D-day ..it is the underclass(it is your term and it is a bad term)…who needs to be aware about their rights coz Big Fish can buy their vite by distributing kambal and daru..so if u can’t support any good cause…please don’t put your head in it..and also ..Media ..what do u mean by thsi term? An hour of Sanjay Dutt Debate -this is called media or Sunny Leone on your papers front page-is this media? Understand the points and then criticize middle class….middle class is their with Arvind..yes they can’t affoed to leave luxury..so keep watching and note down my comments somewhere..you will understand this in November

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  • Mayank

    this time who told you to write this one and how much you make by selling your soul and pen

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  • ravi

    Simple reason. Middle class seeing him as vote cutter n ultimately ending up help congress. No other reason.

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  • achy

    So Mr. Sanghvi now wants middle class to ditch AAP and Arvind Kejriwal, although he has cloaked it as if middle class has already ditched them. But unlike you, Mr Sanghvi, Middle class is not on payroll of Ambani or Nira Radia. So, it has no such compulsion. Middle class is the most educated ( yes, far better then you, Mr Sanghvi) and sees through your games. That is one of the reason it was not enthused by politics as it knew that there was no real choice. But with advent of AAP, it is excited and for the first time sees a clear, stark choice. A choice filled with possibilities rather then fait accompli of Cong-BJP.

    Next time, try harder.

    [Reply]

  • Anonymous

    I stopped supporting Anna, Kejriwal etc. when they started talking secularism like Congress. Both have no problems hobnobbing with Mullahs and believe me they will support congress in future.

    So no support from people who want congress out.

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  • Prem Rou

    Regarding fast in April 2013,it is disheartening to read such a article from seasoned journalist. Are you no longer in inner circle of MMS ?

    (1)Please check the news of immediate preceeding April 2011 fast where “MMS is trying to re-impose EMERGENCY ” was a recurrent theme.

    (2)Please check essays/articles by Sri Khare ex-media-advisor of MMS most probably in The Hindu, hinting the turf war between Pranab Da and MMS regarding PM post. Both believe to have first right over PM post.

    (3)Check the credentials of back room boys organising this show.

    (4)Read the Caravan report to understand as how this fast was brought to national stage by Arnab after a few calls from rigth source.

    (5)Also be informed that ex-PM Sri Gujral was indebted to MMS for his help in last election. Sri Gujral is connected to Times group through maariage. Another leading light Sri Sri jee association with Times group is like that of sugar with milk.
     

    The REAL TRUTH is that it was a well orchestrated drama [ see movie MAIN AZAAAD HOON featuring Amitabh and Shabana to understand what drama or HERO HIRALAL if you prefer lighter stuff].

    The aim was to introduce DICTATORSHIP through backdoor heavily backed by communist last citadel NAC. It was the anti-Pranab faction of Congress who were actively participating as back room boys in organsising the drama.

    The move back fired as BJP refused to hand over tag of graft fighter to Kejriwal.The general mood in public was anti-congress and not anti-graft. The BJP play-acted but refused to fall in the trap organised by NAC. RSS overt support to known anti-indian Bhusan-duo was ” AAPka JOOTA AAPke sar per ”

    The fight back by Pranab and ensuring that DICTATORSHIP cannot make back room entry. India is indebted to Pranab and his supporter for this fight back

    Mr Anna lost his zeal to fast , once the promised President post , was captured by Pranab.

    Mr Kejriwal lost his favour with Congress NAC , as he fail to make stage gor entry of Rahul G as “GAME CHANGER “.

     

    I Rest my case.

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  • Anonymous

    It is quite possible that the Sangh Parivar which provided crowds for the Anna Fast now sees Kejriwal’s party as a threat. They see Kejriwal cornering a bit of the opposition space. Hence their indifference to Kejriwal. This only strengthens the hypothesis that it was indeed the Sangh Parivar that used its cadres to supplement the crowds at Anna’s fast.

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