Thirukkural tells us that “not to fear what should be feared is foolishness and to fear what should be feared is the deed of the wise man”. Gone are the days when national leaders were able to travel in open cars waving to the crowd. Times have changed so much that the Prime Minister has to deliver the Independence Day message from within a bullet-proof enclosure. Arvind Kejriwal should be prudent and accept the security offered to him, even if as just a precaution. He should understand that the security is being given to the Chief Minister of Delhi and not to Mr. Kejriwal, the individual, alone.
It is good to see apolitical persons gravitating towards the Aam Aadmi Party. Mallika Sarabhai is neither a mass leader nor has she participated in any major movement (apart from opposing Narendra Modi). She is, therefore, not connected to any brand of politics. In such a case, her joining the AAP will be a shot in the arm for the party.
Even though the Bharatiya Janata Party has formally condemned the attack on the Aam Aadmi Party’s headquarters, it appears, nevertheless, to indirectly support those who were involved in the act of vandalism. The Gujarat riots episode is still fresh in today’s context, what with Narendra Modi having been unable to shed that baggage yet. There is no denying that the AAP’s emergence has created an impact on major national parties.
Palayamkottai, Tamil Nadu
I am partly amused and partly saddened by the selective outrage over Prashant Bhushan’s suggestion for conducting a referendum on the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Jammu and Kashmir. In J&K and the northeastern States, the AFSPA is seen as an instrument of protection for armed forces personnel who have committed grave offences against civilians. Our dismal track record in terms of delivering justice to the victims of such crimes strengthens this perception. Brushing these concerns under the carpet certainly does not seem to be the best way to go about it. It is also ironic that those dismissive of the concerns over the AFSPA are themselves usually far removed from its troublesome shadow. Mr. Bhushan deserves to be commended for attempting to initiate the debate, and not to be bullied into submission.
BangaloreThe advent of Mr. Kejriwal’s AAP, which rode in on the back of the anti-corruption slogan, reminds one of V.P. Singh’s rise in the 1980s, when he too started his Jan Morcha with a single issue — the Bofors scandal. Mr. Singh’s first press conference had indicated that he had very little idea about how to improve India’s general well-being. Yet, he ruled the country for over two years and could do little about Bofors. Mr. Kejriwal — he took up the corruption of Sheila Dikshit’s Delhi government, as well as other scams — has had a similar impetus. Upon becoming Chief Minister of Delhi, he may have doled out expensive freebies under the comforting notion that his Cabinet may be short-lived and somebody else could find the resources to pay for the subsidies. Having realised the importance of Congress support for his party, he seems clearly to have put corruption cases on the backburner now.
Amid the ill-considered subsidies that the AAP has taken to dispensing recently, it is also seeking to increase the quota of reservation. The party must spell out its official stand on caste-based reservations. Politicians have regularly used the issue of reservation to gain votes, and it is hoped the AAP will not take recourse to such measures. But it needs to clarify its stand on the issue before contesting the Lok Sabha polls.
We should not treat Kashmir as a real estate issue. Rather, it is a human issue that is crying out for a people-based solution to the decades-long situation that has affected locals greatly. Only by looking at the issue from a human angle, as Mr. Bhushan has proposed, will we be able to find the right answers. The government should understand that draconian laws will only alienate the masses.