(Captain GR Gopinath founded Air Deccan and is considered a pioneer in the low-cost airline sector.)
Arvind Kejriwal has sounded the war bugle again. On hearing that the Congress may stall the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill by invoking some obscure rule of the union Home Ministry, he thundered, "I will go to any extent to get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed." By now, the Congress and BJP should know it is no idle threat. You can bet every penny that Kejriwal will be as good as his word. He will keep them guessing on his next move and catch them off guard again.
What has possessed and driven Kejriwal is the Jan Lokpal Bill. The Anna movement gained traction and momentum, captured the imagination of youth of this country and became a watershed moment in Indian politics. Kejriwal was Anna's lieutenant till they parted ways. He was the General of the movement under Anna's leadership and its main driving force.
His Aam Aadmi Party was born out of that movement and the Jan Lokpal was its raison d'etre. And AAP swept to power on that very plank. So Kejriwal will go to any length to have the Jan Lokpal Bill passed. He must. The AAP's credibility and survival depends on it. Everything must be subsumed to achieve that goal. The people who voted for him and his party were sick of corruption in government and high places, and the promise of the Jan Lokpal was given primacy by them. They will forgive everything to get it. All the indiscretions of AAP's leaders in the last month will recede into the background once the Jan Lokpal Bill, the AAP's shining armour, sees the light of day. Sure it is not a panacea to all our ills, but it is probably the first and most important remedy in a long battle to lift India out of poverty and march toward a just society.
So where's Rahul Gandhi hiding!? There's not a whisper from him on the AAP cabinet's approval of Jan Lokpal even though his stage-managers have been projecting him as the true crusader against corruption since he tore up the ordinance protecting convicted politicians from being evicted from parliament.
He suddenly popped up from nowhere after two years of apathy and tried to come out blazing as the true crusader against corruption by taking credit for the Jan Lokpal Bill that was tabled and passed in parliament recently. While the sycophants and party-faithful hailed him as the only champion against corruption, the others ridiculed him saying he has suddenly woken up like Rip van Winkle and the media poked fun saying, "As always, it is too little too late by Rahul." All these posturings are gimmicks and won't wash with the public. Why did he not throw his might behind the bill the first time when Anna, Kejriwal and others like Kiran Bedi protested? If he had, the AAP might never have taken birth.
And once again he's conspicuous by his silence and seems unable to sense and seize the moment. This was the time for Rahul and Congress, which is giving external support to the minority AAP government, to show solidarity on issues on which they had expressed common concern. And if a Home Ministry nod was required for the 'AAP-initiated bill' against corruption in Delhi Assembly , knowing the party's High-Command culture, a simple phone call from Rahul would have made the Home Minister bend over backwards and do his bidding. Once more Rahul may spring to action belatedly, and he and his party may have egg on their face, and come out looking poorly when they find themselves pushed into a corner by Kejriwal.
It is not late yet. Rahul can save his party and himself some embarrassment and help pass the Jan Lokpal Bill. Politics and one-upmanship apart, India needs strong anti-corruption bills and institutional changes to bring in accountability.
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First Published: February 10, 2014 11:17 IST