Dear Mr Bhushan,
this letter is in response to your interview in The Wire http://thewire.in/53243/kejriwals-character-made-everything-go-wrong-says-prashant-bhushan-tell-interview/ .
Mr Bhushan I have absolutely no quarrel with you or others who split off from AAP. You may well have some valid reasons for being upset with Arvind Kejriwal (for brevity’s sake will refer to him as AK). My reason for writing is also not to defend AK, he can do that very well himself, but to explain to you why we support AK, AAP & it’s leaders and that I, like thousands of Aapians, love Arvind Kejriwal.
In the interview you said, “But it was Kejriwal’s character that made everything go wrong. I didn’t quite realise that he was so unscrupulous, that he was willing to use any kinds of means to achieve his ends. Of course, political power can be useful, but it can’t be an end in itself, political power is only a means for doing something in public interest.”
In order to explain why we feel so passionate about this party I have to go into the backdrop of our experience of Indian politics and the governments in the last few decades.
For years, we have watched, with helpless incredulous rage as Congress ministers and their cronies have pillaged this country—all the scams, the corruption, going on unabated, year after year. The punishment to offenders, if any at all, was ridiculous. The slow and passive pace of development, the failure to provide even basic necessities to millions after 60 odd years of being in power.
Also MMS, undoubtedly a decent man and a brilliant economist was in my opinion a very poor leader, who as we know did nothing as PM to stop his party members from looting the exchequer and Indian tax payers.
So when it looked like Narendra Modi was coming to power so many of us felt hopeful for the first time in decades. We were blown away by his oratory, dazzled by his promises, his grasp of the pulse of people, how desperately starved we were of leadership, of a government that could shut down the scams and focus on development.
In fact, although I did some phone canvassing for Kumar Vishwas for Amethi elections, I didn’t for AK as I thought it was too huge a jump for him, for AAP and some part of me wanted Modi to win.
The day Modi was sworn-in, my mother-in-law blind but very clued into current affairs, asked “aloo na bhav ghati gaya che su?” Such was the expectation from a man who we now know has turned out to be a con-man extraordinaire!
Again, we watched and waited for a response from him when we heard remarks like “haraamzade” for Muslims from his party members, the absence of any true vikas, the jumlas, the outright unabashed admission of false promises and of course the millions being siphoned off in ways direct and indirect to Modi’s fund providers.
The scams if anything have gone worse and bigger, the hatred and communal divisiveness has metastasised like cancer , the attitude towards women, the saffronization—really I could go on and on about why I despise Modi and the BJP.
What blithering idiots he made of us and how absolutely he has disempowered us now.
So given these conditions, so many of us are being instinctively drawn to AAP and AK as the answer to Modi and Congress. Not because AK is perfect as a leader and convener of AAP but because Arvind Kejriwal is a “good enough” leader.
In psychology, there is a concept of “good enough mother” derived by psychologist D. W. Winnicott. Basically I see it as the idea that mothers & fathers can give up the need to be perfect parents, they just have to be good enough. Because when their children grow up they will find lacks in even the most beloved parent.
Human beings are flawed, Mr Bhushan and I believe “perfection is the enemy of getting done.”
As you yourself have said, “Yes, he’s bold in taking on the Modi government and one must grant him that.”
I don’t just see AK as just bold Mr Bhushan, I see him as virtually fearless. This is the stuff heroes and saviours are made of. I think the reason for AK’s popularity is that he mirrors us, that we identify with him and we see in him qualities we so want to grow in us.
For instance, I suffer from chronic low grade anxiety, or fearfulness and so for me, AK’s fearlessness is a priceless quality and source of inspiration. The manner in which he confronts Modi, the most powerful man in India, AK encourages me to not be so timid in my own life.
We follow a political leader because we hope he will make our lives and living conditions better, who will at least lessen the corruption, who will focus as AAP does on specific areas—like health, education, water, electricity—Basic Fundamental rights of every person. (I’d really like AK to add women’s empowerment and Population control to that list, as critical areas).
You say AK is “unscrupulous”, I find that sometimes so am I and I bet so are you occasionally.
I feel ashamed when I have to bribe cops in Goa but I know it is not just expected but without it what I need from them (to do their duty), wouldn’t happen.
Yes right now I agree any partnership with Congress or BJP, more so BJP would be unacceptable but Mr Bhushan I also believe that political power is critical to effect any change! So who knows what I might do to have power, if I were in that position.
Each of us has an ethical line we won’t cross, certain values and principals we stand by but even I know that in politics this line has to be somewhat flexible. Not abandoned but elastic.
AK is a bit or very autocratic you suggest. Maybe he is but I think success and achievement depend upon performance and most successful people like to be in control of factors that influence their performance.
Besides, AK was seen as weak when he was practising a more consultative style of leadership.
The purpose of an idea or organisation can and must change and grow as necessary—so yes tackling corruption is critical for AAP but in the meanwhile providing potable water is also essential part of a government’s duty.
You said, “Take the mohalla clinics – the agreement is that doctors will be paid Rs 30 for seeing a patient, so some useless doctors have been randomly picked up, those who just have an MBBS, and these doctors prepare a list of a large number of patients seen and not seen to get money, and the government has a list of patients to show. Then, for further medical investigations, the clinics have tied up with private companies where considerable amounts of money are being paid for blood tests, and typically, a lot of useless blood tests are being ordered that are not required. Then, a lot of contract labour are being employed in government hospitals, and other departments, where agencies are hired and given large commissions, and so on.”
In NHS (government) clinics in England, for most routine conditions these days we are actually seen by a nurse, or a senior nurse not even a “just have an MBBS doctor”.
So yes likely that some unscrupulous doctor is making a fake list of patients and sending them for unnecessary tests—but there are other doctors serving with dedication, patients being helped, patients now have an option they haven’t ever! So should the mohalla clinic be scrapped because some of them are not working the way they could or should.
When you say Congress would be a better government for Punjab, are you also not guilty of supporting a party you abhorred for it’s fostering of corruption—given that you were so disappointed with AK for wanting to form a government with them in 2014.
If AK is as dishonest as you think, he will unquestionably be exposed, just as Modi has been.
But for now there are growing numbers of us who see in Arvind Kejriwal a leader and a man we can follow and emulate.
Mr Bhushan, since the time I started supporting AK and AAP and have been getting to know various other leaders of AAP, I’ve begun to feel less despair about governance in India. I feel they’ve given us something akin to hope, also a channel and a way to serve and make a contribution in any way we can.
Arvind Kejriwal may not be perfect, but is a “good enough” leader for me and for all those Aapians I am sure I speak for.
Also given the state of siege that this sanghi-controlled government is trying to impose on the country, we need someone with the determination and fortitude of Arvind Kejriwal to stand up to it.
In the meanwhile, I truly hope you go ahead and create the party you envision. It’s a large, complicated country and all good people are welcome.
Thank You for your time
“If in the darkness of ignorance, you don’t recognize a person’s true nature, look to see whom he has chosen for his leader.” Rumi