“All Utopias are fed from the sources of mythology; the social engineer’s blueprint are merely revised editions of the ancient text” wrote Arthur Koestler in the book “The God that failed” in 1949, as he along with five other disillusioned revolutionaries came out against their previous faith named Communism.
Today, as has been many times in the past few months, Arvind Kejriwal is yet again in the headlines. This time, refusing to pay a bail in a defamation case and thereby choosing to go to jail. We are yet again in a shrill, pitched battle between the fans who see in his every move the manifestation of the impending revolution and his critics who see in his “antics” a compulsiveness to be in the media glare, or a desperate tactic to hold on to the public mind space. The adulations and criticisms have focused on individual moves. But what lies beneath these actions? What is the larger philosophical context in which they are being played out?
So far, we have tended to look at instances such as Aam Aadmi Party’s support to the Khap Panchayats, the vigilante justice offered by its leaders, Arvind Kejriwal’s anarchic ways and his selective referendums, as tactics imperative to political positioning or as exasperation accompanied by disruption of conventional wisdom, depending on which side of the political spectrum one belongs to. As somebody who has been a critic of the AAP’s politics as also having had a soft corner towards the movement and the political party, I too have internally juggled between the two. But clarity did emerge when (a few months ago) I read what was touted as AAP’s philosophical statement – Arvind Kejriwal's book ‘Swaraj’. Reading the book gives that ‘aha’ feeling. You are suddenly able to connect the dots between these incidents and the basic philosophy that drives them. The link, the causality, the big picture, everything starts to fall in place. It starts becoming clear that AAP’s adoration of the Maoist style kangaroo justice, its reluctance or unease with the idea of governance and its preference to agitational politics may not be accidental but representative of a political narrative that its founder leader professes.