Beware of this Rottweiler
I am no supporter of Arvind Kejriwal but I must say in recent months he is the sole politician on the Indian scene to have had the courage to take on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.
For months now, I have been raising exactly the same questions that Kejriwal now asks of Modi only to be dismissed as some kind of perverted Modi baiter – to even an average mind it should have been clearly visible that Modi’s claims about prosperity in Gujarat were too good to be true. Modi has got away with those claims essentially because Gujarat is either full of those who blindly support him or those who fear him too much to raise the right questions and it is clear that Kejriwal neither loves Modi nor is afraid of the man and so Modi will eventually have to answer those 16 questions on Kejriwal’s list.
I recently met a bureaucrat who told me the bureaucracy in Gujarat, too, is sick to death of Modi and is just waiting for him “to get out of the state”. They will be sorely disappointed if he fails to move to New Delhi. Even students of mass communication from Bombay who have visited Gujarat on assignment could spot the fact that the state was shining only for the crony capitalists — indeed health facilities are very poor in the state, pollution of natural resources is at an all time high, Punjabi and Sikh farmers are being harassed out of their lands and even Gujarati farmers too are being forced to give up their land to industry. But then – here’s the funny part – even small and medium scale entrepreneurs are moving out of Gujarat to neighbouring Maharashtra because, as many of them told me, “Gujarat is only for the Big Three, the Adanis, the Ambanis and the Tatas.”
It is very true that people have to pay double the rates that the Tatas pay for their electricity, water comes to the villages once in three days and even the high rises of Surat and Baroda have to wait almost all day for tankers to arrive and hastily store up the water for the next day’s supply.
Modi has been able to sweep much of these under the carpet because people have been taken in by his Rambo acts and his empty boasts of a vibrant Gujarat – even there most of the MoUs have not materialised and the indices on practically every social sector are not much to write home about.
So, suddenly, a fun quotient has been brought into this rather one-sided election by Kejriwal who can be expected not to let go once he has got his teeth into Modi’s ankles – and Kejriwal is no poor puppy to be crushed under the wheels of Modi’s vehicle. Rather, he is as persistent as a Rottweiler and, I believe, with a similarly sharp intention that never fails to get its victim in the end.
Kejriwal may well follow Modi to wherever the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate might want to contest the polls from – and one thing is almost certain. Even if he does not defeat Modi the manner in which he slayed Sheila Dikshit in New Delhi, Modi will have his task cut out for him and this election is going to be no cakewalk for the Gujarat chief minister.
If he decides to contest from outside of Gujarat, he risks failure to impress a new electorate. If he sticks to Gujarat, he might still get confined to his own election because after my travels though Gujarat, I noticed people in that state have been waiting just for someone like Kejriwal to come forward and take on the man, his empty boasts and his less empty threats The Congress which was the only alternative to Modi in Gujarat all these years was incapable of swinging the vote not only because Modi crushed everybody underfoot but also because many of the party’s prominent leaders have come to their own arrangments with Modi whom leaves them alone so long as they do not upset his apple cart.
But now suddenly Kejriwal has nothing to lose by taking on Modi – in fact he can only win even if he loses the vote in actual terms. I am wondering how Modi will now take on Kejriwal and how well he might be able to combat Kejriwal’s truths about Gujarat – for, indeed, he has nailed the truth in his 16 questions to Narendra Modi.
Now the ‘chappan ki chhaati’ might well deflate to its original size and if there is one thing the people might realise at these elections is that India perhaps has no use for the politesse of gentlemen like Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram or even Rahul Gandhi on the political firmament. They also, of course, do not care for goons and thugs or else the country would have long been taken over by a certain kind of people from a certain significant state which sends a lot of MPs to parliament.
Perhaps we have need of a gentleman-guerilla. And call him urban anarchist, Maoist, Naxalite or whatever, Arvind Kejriwal certainly does not lack in gumption and courage. Modi should bolt his doors before Kejriwal has cut the horses loose. Or else he will stand well and truly ambushed!