Can Kejriwal do a Bal Thackeray?



It is a historical fact and long forgotten bit of history but then history has a way of repeating itself if we forget it, don’t they say? Friends are telling me that the 1960s are too far back in time and have no bearing on today’s situation but those who have lived through that era recall the similarities between the two movements and how the Shiv Sena had come as a breath of fresh air in the jaded post-Independence era as AAP has done so many decades later.

Thackeray too has built his movement on a single plank – justice to the Marathi speaking people — and swept the Bombay Municipal Corporation elections against all conventional wisdom, emerging as the main opposition within two years of its formation. But soon he ran out of steam and was in danger of extinction, and so had to reinvent himself with a focus on Hindutva by the mid-1980s and fell prey to all the shenanigans of the established political parties and became one with their culture.

Thackeray was lauded as a similar giant killer when he helped to defeat then union defence minister VK Krishna Menon but was soon a paper tiger before he went rabidly communal to keep himself relevant to the changing political times.

I wonder how Arvind Kejriwal will reinvent himself if he fails to reduce electricity tariffs or keep onion prices low for good administration is much more than populism. Already the man on whose charisma AAP seems to have ridden to victory has made it clear that there is no room on his platform for AAP as was evident from the ugly spat between Anna Hazare and members of AAP over General VK Singh’s remarks at Ralegan Siddhi where Anna is on fast.

Even General Singh is proving to be a flip flop man like Bal Thackeray was, not very sure which side he is on and where he really wants to go. But Anna too does not have the capacity to sustain the momentum – I have observed his movements for over two decades and I notice these are always run by one caucus or the other quick succession.

Anna, frankly, is too much of a simpleton to be able to judge their motives correctly and has been let down many a time by his so-called supporters as he is now accusing AAP of doing.

But if one is on comparisons, Bal Thackeray swept Bombay in the 1960s and changed the character of the city forever – and not really for the better. I wonder if Delhi will go through a similar transformation in its ethos though it is not possible for any one party or personality to lay claim to the national capital as Thackeray did a la Bombay.

Still the Delhi verdict is welcome because I believe the Congress needed bringing down a peg or two and Narendra Modi needed putting in his place firmly, both of which Kejriwal seems to have accomplished with flair. Modi now knows there is no wave in his favour, for AAP has gained in a majority of the constituencies where he campaigned and cannot be unaware of the fact that Shivraj Singh Chauhan of Madhya Pradesh has bettered his own record — he had dropped seats after the Gujarat elections last year, much as Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh has done this year.

So even in that regard he is neither unique nor exclusive. The Congress too will have to introspect about what went wrong despite their good governance at least in New Delhi — democracy in that sense is really a true leveler.

Why the people always know best is once again reinforced by the Delhi verdict – they have left no room for the BJP to repeat an operation Lotus. With four Congress MLAs being Muslims and four committed party men and thus in n mod to play ball with Modi, the BJP is caught in a cleft stick – the only independent offering support wants to be made deputy chief minister and that brings with it all the insinuations that has brought AAP such a spectacular victory.

Even AAP is unlikely to accomplish much with its numbers but I do wish it had got a little more to prove to us that politics could really be practised the way they are advocating.

Meanwhile, I would like to know why it is wrong for Bangaru Laxman of the BJP to take cash for his party and okay for Kumar Vishwas of AAP to do the same for his own personal use.

There should really be no room here for charlatans but then this is Indian democracy. There is room here for everyone as even Bal Thackeray was surprised to discover about himself. May Kejriwal have better luck.

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