Mr K & his magic broom
Mr K & His Magic Broom, Aravind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party, Delhi Assembly Elections Results. Kejriwal doesn’t have the gift of the gab or play to the gallery. The thrust of his campaign, political or otherwise, is to root out corruption and establish clean rule.
Kejriwal doesn’t have the gift of the gab or play to the gallery. The thrust of his campaign, political or otherwise, is to root out corruption and establish clean rule.
In popular Western folklore, broom stick is depicted as the vehicle for witches. How is it identified with evil spirits is difficult to fathom out. Probably, it is symbolic and can be interpreted as a means to clean all that is obnoxious in the world with a handy tool.
But the broom’s importance in our daily life can’t be underestimated and its worthy role in cleaning our houses and streets -- even in the age of machines and vacuum cleaners -- can’t be belittled. Now, the status of lowly bunch of twigs or coconut leaf strands has gone a notch up with Aam Aadmi Party’s near clean sweep of Delhi in the just concluded Assembly elections.
The man who wielded the broom to clean the Congress stables in the national capital is AAP’s founder-chief Arvind Kejriwal. A year ago, when he chose the broom as his party symbol he was the butt of ridicule and jokes from the mainstream parties and his adversaries. Little did they realise at that time that in less than one year he would show them the strength of the broom.
In choosing the broom as his party symbol, Kejriwal had in mind more than what it stood for in public imagination: Like cleaning the dirt on the floor, his party wants to cleanse a political system that is so corrupt that it needs billions of brooms and equal numbers of dedicated and focused handlers.
To begin with, Mr K’s spectacular victory in Delhi bagging 28 Assembly seats in just nine months of AAP’s launch is no mean achievement. As every poll analyst has pointed out that the BJP with 32 seats in its kitty may be the winner but AAP has emerged as the giant killer of Congress with Kejriwal being portrayed as Goliath.
It is being widely acknowledged, even by some of the die-hard Congress stalwarts, that Mr K had done something unimaginable, a feat comparable with that of N T Rama Rao in 1983 when the charismatic Telugu cinema idol stormed the Congress’s southern citadel and routed the party. Thirty years later, Kejriwal, in a way replicated what NTR had done in this State, but with a difference.
The former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister had a mass fan following and possessed great oratory skills. His histrionics coupled with cinematic speech delivery were the two elements that sent the audience into raptures. The catalyst for the unprecedented electoral triumph of a just-born regional party was the invocation of ‘Telugu pride.” It worked like a spell on the Telugu people not only in the State but everywhere else.
In contrast, Kejriwal doesn’t have the gift of the gab or play to the gallery. The thrust of his campaign, political or otherwise, is to root out corruption and establish clean rule. His crusade is much appreciated by the youth and those who are fed up with the rotten system that moves along the beaten track carrying the discarded and dynastic baggage.
The officialdom and the political class with entrenched interests work in tandem and any attempt to change the status quo is deprecated. This explains why Mr K and his party had been looked down upon by those who sit in ivory towers and have no firm footing in reality. In other words, people who should matter have lost their voice and have no say in governance. Worse, little had been done to tackle their problems like rising prices, shortages of essentials, lack of basic facilities and services, etc.
Clearly, there is a wide gulf between the ruling class and the ruled. When that gap is filled and when someone like Mr K identifies himself, he becomes a hero of the masses. That’s his magic which has transformed his party symbol broom into a wand. No doubt, he is riding high; but can his high popularity in the national capital percolate down and throughout the country, say in six months’ time?
AAP officials claim that their units have been in place in almost all the districts and candidates for parliamentary elections will be announced once the Election Commission releases its poll schedule. That’s a welcome development; but what remains to be seen is whether it is possible to gear up the entire party machinery for the general elections, given the constraints of logistics and funds. More pertinent is AAP as of now is an urban phenomenon. Delhi Assembly poll can be considered as the party’s first test case. (It is expected to get majority if re-elections are held in case the BJP as a major stakeholder can’t form the government in Delhi).
It is reported that requests are pouring in for AAP to contest from major cities and many well-educated youths are jumping on to the party bandwagon firing salvos of idealism. Such enthusiasm is rarely seen in the present day India. But if it is only confined to urban pockets, where, naturally, the educated and young and aged professionals prefer a change in the moribund political system, the mass of the people will be left out, almost untouched. It’s not desirable.
Alternatively, untainted parties with regional moorings yearning for a change can support the efforts of Kejriwal and his party to make it pan-Indian. The proposal itself calls for millions of volunteers who can work selflessly and without aspiring for any position or pelf. The big question is whether Mr K can muster that kind of strength to challenge Congress and BJP plus regional heavyweights.
Whatever the future holds for AAP, it has made a mark on the country’s political scene and proved aam aadmi too can one day become the true representatives of the democratic system. To make it real, the onus is on the voter.
PS: A new broom is a newly-appointed person who is likely to make far-reaching changes. With allusion to the proverb, a new broom sweeps clean. Is Mr K the new broom?