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The Kejriwal Phenomenon

January 7, 2014 A new thunderbolt has hit the political scene in South Asia. The South Asian voter after decades of bein lied to and cheated by a class of self!servin professional politicians, a political class which has iven a new "eanin to the word parasite, since South Asia e"er ed fro" colonial bonda e "any "oons a o, has today seen new hope in the Aa" Ad"i #arty $AA#% &the 'o""on (an #arty) of *ndia led by Arvind +e,riwal, 'hief (inister of -elhi, who swept the polls held recently. They won 2. of the 70 seats, pushin the rulin 'on ress down to ei ht seats and the /J# to 02. The AA# was launched on 21 2ove"ber 2012. The party "ade its debut in the -elhi 3e islative Asse"bly elections of -ece"ber 2010 with the broo" as its election sy"bol and stunned -elhi4s political class by e"er in as the second lar est political party. The rulin 'on ress was pushed down to third place, with +e,riwal hi"self contestin and defeatin resoundin ly three!ter" 'on ress 'hief (inister of -elhi, Sheila -i5it. The /J# did not want to for" a "inority overn"ent in -elhi. The 'on ress wanted to 6eep the /J# out and offered AA# support. After e5tensive consultations with its sta6eholders, the AA# decided to for" a "inority overn"ent. AA# roots The AA# spran out of a ca"pai n launched by Anna 7a8are to have the anti corruption a ency the 3o6 #al law enacted after four decades of inaction and intransi ence by *ndia4s political class. They were supre"ely reluctant to have any sort of powerful a ency, out of their i""ediate control, which would investi ate alle ations

of corruption a ainst the"selves, the political class and the bureaucracy. *n true South Asian political class style, *ndia4s political class had been pro"isin , lyin , cheatin , double crossin and bribin their way throu h a rossly and inhu"anly corrupt syste" for 40 lon years. Anna 7a8are undertoo6 a fast unto death, startin Tuesday 9 April, at 2ew -elhi4s centrally located historic Jantar (antar site, later shifted to the :a" 3ila (aidan, de"andin that the 3o6 #al law be enacted. Thousands of *ndia4s educated youth, social activists, business persons and urban "iddle classes, athered to support Anna. +ishor 'hau6ar, ;5ecutive -irector of the fa"ous *ndian "ultinational con lo"erate Tata Sons, see"ed to e5press the consensus of the business co""unity, when he said< =The di"ensions of this corruption scandal are so lar e. The wron doin is bein brou ht into focus in such a lar e "anner, a lar e nu"ber of youths are sayin < >This is enou h4. To crony capitalis", they are sayin < >3et4s et rid of it4. *t will lead to so"ethin that is bi for *ndia4s econo"ic and political syste"? the people are sayin if we can de"onstrate and networ6 and we are unified then thin s can chan e.@ The a"ount of public support for 7a8are was such that the *ndian Aovern"ent capitulated even before he ot hun ryB Anna 7a8are of *ndia Anna 7a8are was born +isan /aburao 7a8are in 1C40 in a s"all villa e in *ndia4s (aharashtra state, Anna studied up to the 7th standard in school. 7e was sent to stay with his aunt in /o"bay when his father died, and due to econo"ic hardship, started sellin flowers to "a6e a livin . 7avin an entrepreneurial flair, he soon e5panded the business into a flower shop. /ut he later fell into bad co"pany and the business went ban6rupt. *n 1C10 he ,oined the *ndian Ar"y as a driver. *n his spare ti"e he read boo6s on Swa"i Dive6ananda, (ahat"a Aandhi and Acharya Dinoba /have, which inspired hi" to beco"e a social refor"er. 7e went bac6 to his villa e of :ale an Siddhi, in Aha"edna ar district and carried out a successful ca"pai n to rid of the scour e of alcoholis". 7e also "obilised the villa ers to i"prove their education level, develop a riculture and the dairy industry. 7e even convinced the villa es to eradicate the concept of caste based untouchability. The Aovern"ent of *ndia reco nised his ood wor6 and in 1CC2 he was

awarded the #ad"a /hushan, a hi h civilian national award. (oha""ed /oua8i8i of Tunisia (eanwhile in Eest Asia (oha""ed /oua8i8i of Tunisia was the deceased hero who self!i""olated in Tunisia at his frustration of bein unable to find a ,ob consonant with his educational Fualifications, and bein hu"iliated and assaulted while operatin his fruit sales cart self!e"ploy"ent venture, throu h which he supported his widowed "other and sisters, by Tunisia4s rent see6in police and "unicipal officials and bein unable to obtain fair relief for the harass"ent. /oua8i8i was publicly spat upon and slapped by a wo"an officer, the ulti"ate hu"iliation in that culture. 7e was unable to et any redress fro" the authorities and sou ht a sy"bolic way out of his hu"iliation and econo"ic repression. /oua8i8i4s suicide caused an eruption of anti dictator dissent and protests throu hout the (a hreb, Eest Asia and 2orth Africa. /en Ali of Tunisia crac6ed and bolted to refu e in Saudi Arabia, the Ar"y in ; ypt eased (ubara6 out of power to ive into the protestors in Tahrir SFuare and later too6 power itself, and the ;"ir of /ahrain with the support of Saudi Arabia troops still has a tenuous hold over /ahrain. Gadaffi of 3ibya fou ht a war a ainst his own people with the help of forei n "ercenaries to survive. 2ATH threw its wei ht behind the 3ibyan dissenters in further of the I2 Security 'ouncil4s resolution nu"ber 1C70 of 2011 to support the international hu"an ri hts law doctrine of :esponsibility to #rotect $:2#%, where a ruler wa es war a ainst his own people and abuses their hu"an ri hts, ivin the international co""unity the authority to protect the people and wa e war a ainst the ruler. Syria, Jordan, (auritania, (orocco, Al eria, Sudan, +uwait, *ran, the ;"irates of the Aulf all saw and are seein protests of one sort or the other a ainst corrupt, autocratic, rulers. /ut in Eest Asia this stru le the >Arab Sprin 4 has been sadly ensnared in sectarian strife. (obilisin public opinion Ehat Anna 7a8are in *ndia and the late (oha""ed /oua8i8i in 2orth Africa, successfully did was to "arshal the rowin public disenchant"ent with rulers who "a6e a habit of abusin their own people, throu h autocratic rule as well as unbridled corruption, into a hu e force which the rulers have had to ta6e notice of. :ulers and the political class are always reluctant to ive way to social activists who "obilise public opinion. /ut 7a8are with his "oral authority and /oua8i8i with his one desperate act have shown that rulers and politicians can be brou ht to their 6nees by

"obilised public opinion. Arvind +e,riwal The *ndian political class atte"pted another round of cheatin , and wanted to side trac6 Anna 7a8are throu h all sorts of le islative process tric6s, as they had been doin for 40 lon years. This is when there was a diver ence of views between 7a8are and so"e of his supporters led by +e,riwal. Ehile 7a8are preferred that the "ove"ent should be politically unali ned, +e,riwal and his followers felt that the failure of the a itation route favoured by Anna 7a8are and his cohorts necessitated a direct political "ove"ent, if the 3o6 #al law was ever to see the li ht of day. *n Septe"ber 2012, 7a8are and +e,riwal a reed that their differences in the approach of how to ensure the enact"ent of the 3o6 #al 3aw were irreconcilable. +e,riwal announced that he was for"in a political partyJ he was supported by several activists, and other 7a8are supporters opposed the political route. +e,riwal and associates launched the AA# on 21 2ove"ber, to coincide with the anniversary of the adoption of *ndian :epublican 'onstitution drafted by the revered -r. A"bed6ar in 1C4C. A party 'onstitution was adopted on 24 2ove"ber 2012, when a 2ational 'ouncil of 020 people and a national e5ecutive of 20 were also for"ed. *n (arch 2010, AA# was re istered as a political party by the ;lection 'o""ission of *ndia. Arvind +e,riwal, born on 11 Au ust 1C1., is the 'hief (inister of -elhi. /orn in 7aryana state, he is a raduate of the *ndian *nstitute of Technolo y +hara pur, where he studied (echanical ;n ineerin . 7e wor6ed for the *ndian :evenue Service as a Joint 'o""issioner in the *nco"e Ta5 -epart"ent. *n 2001 +e,riwal was awarded the :a"on (a saysay Award for ;"er ent 3eadership for his contribution to the enact"ent of the :i ht to *nfor"ation Act and for his efforts to e"power the poorest citi8ens of *ndia. Swara, concept The AA# led by +e,riwal states that the pro"ise of eFuality and ,ustice that for"s a part of the 'onstitution of *ndia and its #rea"ble has not been fulfilled and that the independence of *ndia has replaced enslave"ent to an oppressive forei n power only with the enslave"ent to do"estic cri"inal political elite. The AA# clai"s that the co""on people of *ndia re"ain unheard and unseen e5cept when it suits the politicians to consider the" as a to6en, durin

elections. The AA# wants to reverse the way accountability of overn"ent operates and has ta6en an interpretation of the Ahandian concept of Swara, as a tenet. *t believes that throu h Swara,, the overn"ent will be directly accountable to the people. The Swara, "odel lays stress on self overnance, co""unity buildin and decentralisation. The AA# refuses to be uided by ideolo iesJ they say that they are enterin politics to chan e the syste". Kor the -elhi election, the AA# announced four "a,or policies L enact"ent of Jan 3o6pal le islation, ivin the voter the ri ht to re,ect a candidate, ivin the voter a ri ht to recall an elected candidate, and political decentralisation. The AA# also pro"ised 700 litres of water free of char e for each fa"ily and that electricity bills would be halved. *n -ece"ber 2010, after the rulin con ress party was defeated by the opposition /J# in four "a,or State elections, in addition to bein outpolled by the AA# in -elhi. The *ndian political class was finally pushed panic stric6en into action on the 3o6 #al law after these election results. This was after four decades of inconclusive debate on how to curb bribery. Althou h Anna 7a8are and Arvind +e,riwal had throu h their public protests electrified the country on the need for enact"ent of the 3o6 #al law, the bill had been stalled in the Ipper 7ouse of #arlia"ent for two years. The defeat of 'on ress and the rise of the AA# in -elhi finally pushed the political class to "ove to set up an a ency which investi ates their own corruption. The AA# initially said they would not reFuest support either fro" the 'on ress or /J# to for" the -elhi Aovern"ent. /ut after the /J# with the lar est nu"ber of (3As but no clear "a,ority refused to assu"e power, sayin that they had no "andate and the 'on ress offered conditional support to the AA#, the AA# was taunted that they would not ta6e the responsibility of i"ple"entin the policies which they had placed before the people. +e,riwal did an about!turn after e5tensive consultations with voters and decided to assu"e power in -elhi. The 3o6 #al law The 3o6 #al law enacted by the *ndian #arlia"ent creates an anti corruption watchdo , with a chairperson and ei ht other "e"bers. *t has the power to probe corruption char es levelled a ainst public officers. *t can also loo6 into alle ations a ainst any person if it concludes that the suspect ave or too6 a bribe or conspired or abetted in relation to any offence that falls under the #revention of 'orruption Act. The 'hair"anship of the 3o6 #al is li"ited to for"er 'hief Justices of *ndia, Jud es of the Supre"e 'ourt of *ndia or an e"inent person. There are ei ht other "e"bers of

which 90M should be fro" the Judiciary. The other four should be persons of i"peccable inte rity and have a special 6nowled e and e5pertise of not less than 29 years in "atters relatin to anti!corruption policy, public ad"inistration, vi ilance and finance. 7alf of all the "e"bers shall be drawn fro" the Scheduled 'astes, Scheduled Tribes and Hther /ac6ward 'o""unities and wo"en. (e"bers of #arlia"ent, "e"bers of State 3e islative Asse"blies, "e"bers of local Authorities and #anchchayats are not eli ible for holdin office in the 3o6 #al. Also ineli ible are persons convicted of any offence, includin "oral turpitude, a person who has been re"oved or dis"issed fro" the service of the overn"ent or a State. They "ust be above 49 years of a e. The #resident of *ndia appoints the 'hairperson and "e"bers of 3o6 #al on the reco""endation of a selection co""ittee. The selection co""ittee consists of the #ri"e (inister, the 3o6 Sabha Spea6er, and the 3eader of the Hpposition in the 3o6 Sabha, the 'hief Justice and an e"inent Jurist reco""ended by the other four and no"inated by the #resident of the *ndia. The 3o6 #al has a prosecution win headed by a director and there is a special court created to try 3o6 #al cases. The 3o6 #al can refer cases to the 'entral /ureau of *nvesti ation and has the power to supervise such investi ations. The potential tar et of the 3o6 #al is wide!ran in , virtually all persons paid fro" ta5payers4 "oney and anyone else if there are char es levelled that they violated the #revention of 'orruption Act. The inFuiry "ust be co"pleted within si5 "onths, with an e5tension of another si5 "onths possible. The AA# alternative The AA# Aovern"ent of -elhi provides the possibility of showin the people of *ndia that there is an alternative to the 'on ress and the /J#. No endra Nadav, respected *ndian #sepholo ist and senior AA# "e"ber, has said that the AA# ad"inistration in -elhi =can de"onstrate what an AA# ad"inistration can loo6 li6e to the rest of the country@ in the conte5t of the 2014 #arlia"entary elections in *ndia. Hn Saturday 2. -ece"ber, Arvind +e,riwal too6 oaths before the 3t. Aovernor of -elhi, Shri 2a,eeb Jun at the :a"lila (aidan. 7e is the youn est!ever 'hief (inister of -elhi. The :a" 3ila (aidan is closely connected to Anna 7a8are4s 3o6 #al ca"pai n. Analysts have described the AA# win as a revolt of the ordinary voter of -elhi a ainst the cri"inal political class, who, once in five years, lie to the voter, pro"isin undeliverable thin s, cheat the" into votin , and after a win, retreat to their spacious

3uyten bun alows in -elhi and treat their fraudulent victory as blan6 chec6 to abuse power for another five years, in the absence of a syste" to hold the" accountable for their corrupt acts while in power. The resoundin defeat of the 'on ress #arty, rulin in the centre, in three populous states and the AA# win in -elhi, pushin 'on ress to third place, deprivin the /J# of an absolute "a,ority, panic6ed the cri"inal political class to enact the 3o6 #al law, which they has been successfully bloc6in for 40 lon years. +e,riwal sets a very hi h bench"ar6 L refusin #olice escortsObody uards, refusin an official 3uytens4 bun alow, refusin to use Aovern"ent li"ousines with flashin red and blue li hts to "ove swiftly rou h the chaotic -elhi traffic L for the behaviour of politicians in *ndia, who never ive up a privile e but if at all usually add on to their e5istin privile es to the detri"ent of the ta5payer. 2ew awa6enin of the *ndian voter The AA# is an e5a"ple of a social "ove"ent, decidin decisively to challen e the political class on their own turf, on the AA#4s ter"s and conditions of anti corruption. Social activists in all South Asia are watchin the AA# and the new awa6enin of the *ndian voter with reat interest. All South Asian countries, ran in fro" the (aldives, to #a6istan, to 2epal, to Af hanistan, to /hutan, to (yan"ar, to /an ladesh, to Sri 3an6a, have since independence been "is"ana ed, "ore often than not, by a corrupt, cri"inally ali ned, "urderous political class and their acolytes, who have been "ore interested in featherin their own nests rather than developin a nation. All these South Asian countries have vibrant social "ove"ents, who have, hitherto ta6en the line that Anna 7a8are has ta6en< >+eep out of politics,4 try to pressurise politicians to refor" fro" outside the syste". /ut +e,riwal and the AA# too6 a decisive step L they decided to ta6e the fi ht to the cri"inal political class, to the electoral do"ain. +e,riwal fa"ously said< =#olitics is "uc6, but now we have to et our hands dirty and clean up the "uc6.@ The e6el broo", AA#4s sy"bol, used by the "ar inalised sweeper Dal"i6i co""unity, sy"bolised that *ndian politics had to be cleansed. /y doin this, the AA# has shown that the voters of -elhi, indeed li6e all voters of South Asia, have within the" the latent fire and the will to elect people who will do what is ri ht, the ri ht way, at the ri ht ti"e L as a ainst a bunch of decrepit, cri"inal, politically!ali ned oons. *n other words, i"pose ood overnance. 3atent potential in all voters Eithout doubt there is this latent potential in all the voters in South Asian countries. That is why we are willin the AA# and +e,riwal to succeed in -elhi and *ndia in the

2014 elections, to e"bolden our own ho"e rown social activists to co"e out of the shadows and lead the lon !sufferin co""on "an voter out of this cri"inally corrupt political "orass we are sun6 in up to the ills and liberate the de"ocratic process to the level of ood overnance. 3i6e +e,riwal and his "en and wo"en, we need only a few, ood, co""itted people. The AA# and +e,riwal "ust not and cannot be allowed to fail in this anti!corruption crusade, if South Asia is to be saved fro" turnin into a corrupt hellish banana republic, ruled by a cri"inally avaricious, unaccountable political class. 7a8are4s counterpart /oua8i8i4s Arab Sprin has ot bo ed down in sectarian strife. Kor the sa6e of the de"ocratic liberation of South Asia, the AA# has to succeed. $The writer is a lawyer, who has over 00 years of e5perience as a ';H in both State and private sectors. 7e retired fro" the office of Secretary, (inistry of Kinance and currently is the (ana in -irector of the Sri 3an6a /usiness -evelop"ent 'entre.%