rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » The Yogi arrives: A warning for Narendra Modi

The Yogi arrives: A warning for Narendra Modi

Last updated on: December 10, 2013 20:16 IST

'The Congresswallahs will hope that Arvind Kejriwal's oratory and confidence will be the anti-aircraft guns to Narendra Modi's airwave-capturing force.'

'Both Kejriwal and Modi speak Hindi well. Both are supremely self-confident about their agenda and vision. Some of their catch-phrases -- 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' -- are identical.'

'Both are inspiring figures for their cadres. Both are not hesitant at all to wear their faith in Bhagwan on their foreheads on public platforms.'

Sheela Bhatt believes the 2014 election will be a Kejriwal versus Modi battle.

Arvind KejriwalElections in India are like the country -- a study in complexities and contradictions. Sure, there is a lot to cheer about India's democracy, but there are points to ponder over, too.

For starters, heed the message emerging from the successful leadership change in New Delhi and Rajasthan in the state elections.

The two leaders who have emerged as the faces of a national tide are as different as an ornate royal palace and a measly broom.

Political pundits say that in Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje's charisma worked as much as the anti-Congress wave.

Let us put this charisma under the microscope. What do we see?

In a 'Socialist Republic' that abolished royal titles 44 years ago, Raje is an exuberant maharani, perennially sporting exotic laharias -- maybe it helps her praja feel she is fit to rule over them.

She travels within Rajasthan in chartered aircraft -- be it for devi darshan or whatever. She holidays in exotic European locations.

She owns family properties worth billions of rupees, lives in luxurious palaces. She is inaccessible after 8 pm for the public -- whether she is in or out of power.

Her body language is that of someone born to rule. Her expressive face expresses her anger clearly, even on a public platform. No fuss about it.

She benignly presents herself as a leader fit for the caste-ridden Rajasthani society, which has a long history of well-entrenched feudalism.

She created history on Sunday, December 8, by trouncing the Congress, which won just 21 of the state's 199 seats.

In neighbouring New Delhi, an opposite kind of charisma was responsible for slaying the Congress.

The man of the moment in India's capital wears ill-fitting trousers, lives on his wife Sunita's salary, and mostly uses public transport. He is also diabetic.

His party's symbol, which swept the ground from underneath the Sheila Dikshit government's feet, is the broom -- as common as it gets.

Arvind Kejriwal wants to be seen -- and remain -- as ordinary.

After his speeches, he usually sings a Hindi film song. He recently recited Hindi poet Dushyant Kumar's poetry (Watch it here, external link).

When all over India people asked if the AAP experiment would succeed and if it would cut into the BJP and Congress votes, Kejriwal took time off to see Krrish-3 with Sunita -- as soon as he found the time from the election campaign.

He is quite the yogi in the middle of a crowd. He is the middle-class family man who wants to lead society.

And just how much he has succeeded in making the ordinary extraordinary is evidenced by the fact that even voters of Amrita Sher Gill Marg, the New Delhi lane with India's most expensive real estate, voted for the 'broom'.

Kejriwal and Raje are both achievers. Both used the anti-Congress mood in the country. But how differently!

Another not-so-debated nugget that emerges from this election is that ideology is over-rated.

Kejriwal is a leader without a clear-cut political ideology beyond battling corruption. In his public meetings he uses nationalist catchphrases like 'Vande Mataram', but speak to him and he will tell you he has no political ideology.

His Aam Aadmi Party shone in Delhi's reserved constituencies. The AAP won nine out of 12 reserved for scheduled caste seats. It is the kind of success that would be a Marxist dream come true.

In fact -- and no matter how the bhakts try to window-dress it -- the Bharatiya Janata Party, a party with a highly-pronounced ideology, was halted in its tracks by Kejriwal's non-ideological smart talk.

The AAP won eight out of Delhi's 10 urban assembly seats. It won from elite areas like Greater Kailash, and also from Dalit areas -- with equal elan.

Another nugget that emerges from Kejriwal's rise is that his credibility among the masses will help the Congress in public debates.

With each passing day, it is being proven more conclusively that the Congress does not have the credibility to take on Narendra Modi on issues of development, corruption and probity.

In just one year, Kejriwal demolished the credibility of a chief minister who gave India's capital vastly improved infrastructure.

Kejriwal exposed Sheila Dikshit's handling of water and power distribution. He unearthed evidence claiming how she had not been above board in fixing the prices of power, and how she had messed up Delhi's water management.

The BJP -- which emerged as the single largest party in Delhi -- also gained from Kejriwal's genuine and relentless blitzkrieg against the Dikshit government.

Now, the Congress will hope that Kejriwal does to Modi what he did to Dikshit.

The Congresswallahs will hope that Kejriwal's oratory and confidence will be the anti-aircraft guns to Modi's airwave-capturing force.

Both Kejriwal and Modi speak Hindi well.

Both are supremely self-confident about their agenda and vision. Some of their catch-phrases -- 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' -- are also identical.

Both are inspiring figures for their cadres. Both are not hesitant at all to wear their faith in Bhagwan on their foreheads on public platforms.

Both can address their audiences directly, convincingly.

Both are adept at harnessing the new power of social media.

Both are anti-Congress.

The 2014 Lok Sabha election was being seen as a Modi versus Rahul Gandhi battle. Verdict 2013 shows that another man is waiting to enter the ring.

He does not have the paraphernalia of security guards. He does not have corporate India's backing. But he has turned those ordinary traits into signs of extraordinary resolve and promise.

Forget RaGa versus NaMo. We are in for a different final.

Willingly or unwillingly, if assembly elections are held again in Delhi, it will be Arvind Kejriwal versus Narendra Modi.

Sheela Bhatt