Growing up, the six-year gap between my sister and my ages had serious implications. The physical difference in our sizes converted into a smack or two to my smaller stature whenever our parents’ backs were turned. Her argumentative skills as a thirteen-year-old seemed unbelievable honed compared to mine. She was quick to dismiss my attempts at seeking justice from the powers that be (parents) with astute observations on the farcical elements of my version of events, resulting in raised parental eyebrows at my capability to concoct. The system of power in our family was askew, and my repeated pleas for reparations received little more than a rap on the knuckles for my sister and a bit of coddling for myself. All this changed with the arrival of a superior judicial power in our midst: our grandmother. As my parents continued to participate in their diplomatic engagements of the time, my grandmother, omnipresent as she was, ruled with an iron fist, causing a downward spiral in sibling warfare, and simultaneously causing an upward jump in my sister’s perennially dismal grades. Shocked and awed, my sister submitted to the new system reluctantly, as did my parents, who now saw my squeaky tales anew, accepting recalcitrantly the obvious positives of the new regime.
Once again, I apologize if my anecdotal tone seems irreverent to the raging debacle that has consumed Delhi in the last few days, but, somehow, the political maelstrom that is the capital today appears to me as little more than an old establishment crying foul over a new one’s demand for change. Meanwhile my milieu constituting a socialist bourgeoisie, is questioning the methods employed in the hope of bringing about transformations that it is still immensely desirous of, from the precarious edges of carefully upholstered wing chairs and on the treacherous battleground of social media.
We educated elites are great practitioners of the art of mélange. We mix and muddle, potpourri with reckless abandon, and then marvel at the mess that is the eventual mosaic. Therefore, the reckless actions of an over-zealous Somnath Bharti are capable of consuming the larger issue of the Delhi Police’s accountability. Yet, when a woman is raped in our capital, we are quick to blame the state government for the abominable state of female safety in our city. The catch 22 is apparent to me. In effect, Delhi’s police, by owing allegiance to the central government, will find itself in this tug-of-war every time powers are not aligned between state and union.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, besides being an enduring embarrassment to the government and polity alike, has done little besides placing his unbelievable large foot in his mouth on numerous occasions including, but not limited to, his nod to lathi-charging citizens protesting the gang rape of a medical student in December 2012. For this ‘honorable’ minister to not consider action against errant policemen on the request of the Chief Minister of Delhi is political spin-doctoring at its best and reflective of the muck that has settled on our political institutions and members alike.
But there is a lesson in here for Kejriwal too. The fact is, self-described anarchist or not, Delhi’s Chief Minister is just that, the veritable head of our capital state. Anarchy is by definition a condition of mayhem decidedly outside the purview of political engagement. You cannot don the cap of head of state while simultaneously leading political demonstrations. Unfortunately, the rules of engagement change when you enter the arena as participant. So, Serena Williams may be capable of handing any male tennis player a resounding defeat in practice matches, but when she’s officially on tour, she has to play the ladies. Demonstrations and picketing are tools of the people; for Kejriwal and his fellow mango men and women to effect change they will have to come to the party well prepared, and engage in political warfare within the dictums of democracy.
Change is in order, not just in our governance, but also in the conduct of our people and our representatives. For Kejriwal the challenge ahead is in proving that his party is capable of governing effectively, while the unstated goal of the established political heavyweights is to prevent AAP from doing just that, and bringing about the metaphorical death of this aam anarchist. The Aam Aadmi Party has to be cognizant of the political maneuvering that its opponents are capable of; an anti-social element or two to rile up a protest, a smart-alecky cop proficient in aggravating an already miffed minister, are all but chicken feed to experienced political strategists. Not surprisingly, the talking heads of the two big cheeses can be seen recklessly dismissing the demonstrations at the Rail Bhavan as riotous ribaldry and anti-constitutional, and a weak polity, still confused by what it envisions as sweeping change, has responded in the affirmative through sarcastic statuses and treacherous tweets. Yet, I am certain, that on the inside, the BJP and the Congress, are quite literally shaken and stirred by the disquieting anger of the common man; the common man who has stood alongside Kejriwal and his band of activists, in support of his stand, and not the socialist bourgeois dipping chips in salsa while watching mainstream media ‘covering’ the event.
© Ayesha Sindhu 2014