This is very common in life – that noble ideas take root in social life and as they start taking shape they start loosing their very soul, the very principle they had stood for. In the end they become a burden like a dead corpse. It happens at all levels, all fields – same pattern everywhere. There comes news of floods, cyclones, earthquakes and the calamity that follows. People make donations to the relief funds in their capacity. Months later the problem of rehabilitation remains but comes the news of relief fund scam. The very idea of helping fellow humans in distress is outright killed! We read about announcement of IPL, India’s grand Premier League, we say yes – we will make a statement to the world now, what we get to see instead is Tamasha full with scams, betting, loss of ministry and a possible murder! In the beginning of last decade, started coming the news of India on the way of becoming Software giant. The Indian software engineers reached every nook of the world, creating a reputation of their own. In the process we saw rise and rise of new Indian Software Multinationals. A decade later we find that the giant cannot think beyond customer satisfaction, cannot drop its service mindset – and the Software Multinationals which were once expected to give world some new ideas (like Facebook, Twitter, i-Pod etc.) are thinking of innovative ways of cost cutting in order to increase their profit margin! People simply shrug and go back to their businesses. The list is long, but pattern is same – there rises a wave and cannot sustain itself at its peak, so falls invariably.
The Janlokpal (JLP) – people’s movement
But then something different started happening 3-4 years ago. The small, tiny, unnoticeable droplets started coming together – fast, rapid, in masses. Their existence had long been forgotten. They themselves were oblivious of the existence of others, they themselves didn’t know together they would rise so high, roar so loud, and and even change the directions of wind – but they did come together nevertheless. The result took the whole country to storm, what the world saw as the Janlokpal Andolan (JLP). It was spearheaded by Anna Hazare. But anybody (of course with certain credibility) would have done. The agitation was for passing the Janlokpal bill. But any valid excuse would have sufficed. Because the people were fed up of the system! More than that they did not have anybody to listen them. Not the rulers of course; but even the opposition seemed only engaged in proxy war with the ruling party. Media? Either they were owned by politicians, or were dependent on them for their revenues (from Ads or paid-news – whatever), and then there was TRP (which was found in ample amount in Abhishek-Aishwarya wedding, or Deepika Padukone’s relationships). Courts? Well, its beyond a common man’s reach and capacity. The rulers had thus pocketed all important pieces, sealed all the exits for the common man. There began the suffocation of the ordinary – he wanted to retaliate somehow… anyhow, and along came the Janlokpal agitation. One tiny outlet to vent your anger, your plight against the rulers, the system. Many hadn’t heard about Anna Hazare before yet they flaunted “mein bhi Anna” caps on their heads; many started reading about the idea of Lokpal (Ombudsman) later than they started participating the movement. Anna and Janlokpal was secondary, people’s anger and restlessness was primary.
The movement sustained all the tactics of the rulers be it power or deceit, woke up the opposition from their hibernation, claimed the prime-time of media and made the whole parliament dance on people’s tunes (though for a short while). This was the success of the movement – and there started the danger!!!
For success and sustainability of a people’s initiative like Janlokpal – two things are extremely important – the participation of people and the leadership. Only one cannot make it to the end, both are needed. Just one Shivaji, one Gandhiji or one Subhash Babu couldn’t have done it without his followers who laid their lives for the cause of the leader. At the same time a leaderless act of people subsides sooner or later – like the First war of Independence in 1857. The leader stands for the very cause, the people are fighting for. He is the embodiment of it, he is the force that makes people get up and fight for. That is why leader’s integrity is extremely important, because it is the integrity of the very cause. And no mass movement can stand, if the cause is defeated, if it’s integrity suffers!
Now the movements may begin first with leader and later on his followers joining him; or it may be started first by people in due time finding their leader; or both more or less simultaneously – but in any case they both are mutual to each other. Coming back to Janlokpal, it started primarily as people’s movement, and like the people came in from all directions, so did the leaders. The collective leadership then, that happened more in matter of fact way consisted of many heterogeneous people like Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejariwal, Bhushan duo, Kiran Bedi, Baba Ramdev and many more guest appearances. The success of Janlokpal gave rise to potential danger, because like in any win the credit went to this collective leadership which was more of an accident.
The JLP, the AAP and real common man
The version 2 of Janlokpal was our beloved Aam Aadami Party. But now the erstwhile leadership of Janlokpaal was more or less sent home, starting from Anna himself. That leaves Kejariwal primarily as the heir of all the achievements and goodwill of people. There is no wonder that people have such hopes from Kejariwal, because he is the one now who reflects people’s triumph and hope that they got primarily during Janlokpal. He himself has to be credited for this, because he made a political party capitalizing on the fresh memoirs of Janlokpal, he successfully eliminated his rivals from the top post and most importantly he kept the momentum all these years. The AAP decides to contest Delhi Assembly Elections.
Mr. Kejriwal at the center-stage
Here begins the second part, where the concepts, the causes start taking shape. The hope of common man – that one such common man among us would sit on the CM chair – had been finally looked in sight. The common man had dreamed enough, now he was going to open his eyes and see his dream in reality. This is where the integrity of the leadership, his commitment to the people’s cause comes into picture. And there lies the key… at first place the common man looks at Kejariwal as an answer to all their hitherto problems, because the JLP movement was actually stood not just for JLP but for all the problems of common man!!! If JLP is the answer, be it! If bringing black money back is the answer, be it!! So Kejriwal, though can really claim authority mainly on Janlokpal, yet sooner than expected became a possible solution of all the problems. An honest person here would have tried to clear this confusion, or at least should have taken his time before trying to address other problems of common man. And solving their problem requires time, patience, understanding and experience – but Kejriwal is an ambitious man. He capitalizes on the hope and faith of the common man – he makes all kinds of promises to the Delhi electorate – from inquiring Sheila Dixits’ corruption cases to free water, electricity or whatever. Of course making promises is one thing, keeping them is another. But Mr. Kejriwal is yet to come there.
The most critical moment
The elections are over, AAP gets an impressive seat share, directly catapulting Mr. Kejriwal to the Delhi CM’s throne. This is the most important time – these are the critical moments when the weight shifts from the people to their leader. The people do their job and now it is their leader’s turn – to reaffirm the faith of his people, to show his integrity to the cause and thereby the integrity of the cause itself, to live for their ideal and if needed to die for it – for the ideal is above all. Jesus has to get crucified. Shivaji has to risk everything achieved in last 10-15 years and fight a duel with an enemy double his size, Afzhalkhan – either to kill or to be killed. Bhagat Singh has to take a ‘strategic decision’ of himself throwing the bomb in assembly, which would ensure his way to the gallows! These are the make or break situations for the leaders, they have to go through it, time and again – no substitute, no bypass.
So comes that moment for Kejariwal too – the moment of delivering his promises. Although it’s not a live or die situation for him, yet he is no short of challenges. But who isn’t? This is where integrity of an individual (if he has any at first place) comes into play. When Shri. Lal Bahadur Shastri was PM of India, we were on one side fighting with Pakistan and on other side with food scarcity. Two of the most severe problems for a nation – Security crisis and Food crisis! And what kind of solution he comes with against the food problem! A solution which many would find bizarre, many management books would rather not speak about it, and many of the gen-next guys would find it out of the world – but he did. He requested his countrymen to observe one day fast in week – and very very few leaders had that kind of authority to make such request to his people. The authority that comes from one’s character, one’s integrity, one’s sincerity to his task. And people obliged – not just obliged, some of them followed it as a rule for their entire life.
So the point is, in demanding situations also a leader of character, honesty and sincerity can find his way out – for his very virtues in such situation can get the best out of his people. But when Mr. Kejriwal is made CM of Delhi, instead of thinking of people’s problems, he thinks of escaping them. In nearly two months time, he runs away without any worthwhile reason. The common man was going to rule for next 5 years, but in mere 2 months everything was over. (Of course, the common man has not been told so, he has been shown some bigger dreams and given new promises)
The reasons behind his exit, his future strategies and who stands to gain from them etc. has been enough discussed in the columns and blogs. For me, the Kejriwal story ends here. When CM Kejriwal resigned from his post, people’s Kejriwal ended and politician Kejriwal started.
It has been quite some time since Kejriwal has resigned, and there have been new developments happening ever since (literally) every day. The post resignation story is not of much importance to me – when it was doomed to be failed, it will – one way or the other. (Many would like to disagree here about ‘doomed to be failed’, but to the least they can concede the ‘runaway bride’ job of Kejriwal)
What is more important to me is, what I have explained in the very beginning of this article. That is, why do the initiatives started with people’s goodwill, faith and hope normally end up in disaster, disappointment? The answer would largely lie in the leadership, that is the leadership failing to do it’s duties, or taking undue advantage of people’s faith. But then again the leaders also come from the people. So, what do the people miss about their leaders? Well, to me certain points have repeatedly occurred.
- In the beginning, trying to frame opinions about the leader based on insufficient information. e.g. Manmohan Singh is a person of great honesty and integrity. When he became PM, nobody knew really why it was so, but everyone assumed.
- When the leaders gain popularity, becoming either completely for or against the leader/party. The tendency to see the leaders in black or white rather than shades of gray. Best example – Narendra Modi followers vs. haters
- Unwillingness to reassess opinions about their leaders from time to time. Once good is forever good and vice versa. e.g. Justification of AAP by it’s followers, although the party’s behavior has been questionable on more than one occasion
Hopefully this post leads the readers to think of their leaders in more pragmatic way and less romantic way – thereby putting more thought to the process of Elections and saving himself from the future disappointments.