Kejriwal Varanasi drama

A great actor simply makes you forget he is acting. A great comedian makes you laugh even as he stays calm, even serious. A great secret agent or spy is inconspicuous. Once your mask has slipped, game is essentially over.

Arvind Kejriwal, unfortunately has made drama and theatrics so brazen and overused, he is now seen as a stuntman and fake even if he is saying something serious.

Hence his dip in the Ganges river and the usual drama over ink pots and eggshells (which amazingly he alone seems to attract) has not gotten as much media attention as he must have hoped.  The arrest of IM jihadi chief spoiled the show somewhat. The absence of large crowds must have also mattered.

It should be obvious to anyone that he went to Varanasi on Tuesday his mind already made up to contest, for better or worse. So all this talk of ‘referendum’ was nonsense but his honeymoon with media looking for anti-Modi sound bytes ensured all that was forgotten.

We don’t care to predict if he will make a difference to the Modi campaign juggernaut. It is obvious he doesn’t care, all he wants is his continued presence in the TV screens and prime time news. Short of dancing naked in the streets, he is perfectly willing to do anything to get that. Who knows, he may even try that.

Is the baby still in bath water?

But the more serious question is, what does it mean to the campaign against corruption which is supposed to be the main focus of Kejriwal as well as his “Aam Aadmi” party?

His frequent flip-flops, hypocritical criticism of others even as he demanded and continues to enjoy perks like bungalows and chartered plane trip, business class flights by Yogendra Yadav, rabidly racist assault on african immigrants by his sidekick Somnath (who has an interesting track record and past, to put it mildly), have all contributed to the decline of AAP in middle class perception in recent weeks. Just as Pakistan needs constant bomb blasts and nuclear threats to stay in news, AAP seems to need constant flow of nautankis to stay relevant. Not surprisingly, many respectable founders and senior members have given up on the whole idea and quit.

There is a genuine risk that he is not just damaging his own prospects, but the sustainability and relevance of the entire anti-corruption platform by his words, actions and pathetic track record. In fact, the damage may have already been done.

His choice to fight against Modi, whatever his other faults arguably the least corrupt of the leaders in today’s politics, not just sucks up his personal time, which can be better spent campaigning elsewhere, trivialises the anti-corruption plank. It also marks yet another U turn of his policy not to field any existing Delhi assembly member in Loksabha polls. Looks like he exempted himself from any policy or law.

May be it provides him a convenient excuse to stay clear of Delhi, where he may be called to explain his running away from delivering on his lofty promises.

It is sad, but anyone coming out with a anti-corruption agenda will now be seen through the prism of examples set by Kejriwal and seen as a quack and non-serious. Real reform of the system has to wait. For the arrival of another messiah who will have a much steeper hill to climb.