Can Kejriwal be PM
Col (Retd) Bhaskar Sarkar VSM
A question that has been raised by some elements in the media and the established political parties is, “Does Kejriwal have the experience to be Prime Minister or even a chief minister? To answer the question all one needs to do is to look at history.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
What was the experience of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru when he became Prime Minister on 15 August 1947? A big zero. During periods when he was not in jail, he did lead the Congress Party. But he could have no experience of ruling any part of India because India was then under British rule. He was well educated and had vision of a great India. Except for being a supporter of corruption (e.g. jeep scam of 1947 involving V K Krishna Menon) , nepotism (e.g. making infamous General B M Kaul Corps Commander in 1962 leading to Chinese debacle) and crony capitalism (e.g. Dalmia Case of 1956; Mundra Scam of 1957; Jaynti Dharam Teja Scam of 1962 where Daram Teja’s company with a paid up capital of Rs 200 got a loan of Rs 200 crores on Nehru’s recommendation) and a neglecter of India’s defence preparedness, he did a pretty good job. He laid the foundation of a vibrant, modern, technology savvy and industrialized India. In fact his entire cabinet was without any experience. Yet most of them, except for a few like Mr. Krishna Menon, performed very well. Their assets were intelligence, knowledge, dedication and love for the country. It is because of Nehru that India has IITs, IIMs, AIMS and is a nuclear power and has sent a mission to moon and Mars.
What experience did Rajeev Gandhi have when he became PM? He literally parachuted from a Boeing aircraft of Indian Airlines into the prime minister’s chair. Except for his handling of the Anti Sikh riots and the misadventure in Sri Lanka, he did as well as he was permitted by his unscrupulous council of ministers. Mr. Clean was snared into the Bofors and other scandals and the Shahbano Case and lost the election that followed. But he had the vision to introduce “Panchayeti Raj, integrate the villages into the national telephone network and brought in computers and to start information technology. His vision helped India to progress and become the world’s leading IT power.
Barack Obama, the current US President in his second term was a first time senator before becoming the US president in 2009. His executive experience before becoming president is nil. Yet he did well enough to win a second term.
Unlike the most inexperienced national leaders listed above, the most experienced Prime Minister after Indira Gandhi, Mr. Manmohan Singh, has been a total disaster. As a result of his weak character, (the only time he shows resolve is when it comes to hanging on to his chair), poor governance and benign tolerance of all pervasive corruption, he has brought the century old Congress Party close to oblivion. What use is experience when ones vision is restricted to finding corrupt ways to stay in power, when your leader has no pride in his nation and no control over his ministers? Why the Congress party chose him to be Prime Minister and persisted with him remains the most intriguing political mystery of our times.
Narendra Modi claims that he has experience for running the country. Does he? He has been the Chief Minister of Gujrat for over 10 years. But does that qualify him to be Prime Minister. As a Chief Minister he has the power to sack any of his ministers. He does not have to tolerate dissent. Does the Prime Minister have the power to sack a Chief Minister? A Prime Minister has to live with dissent and have the tact to still implement his agenda. Narendra Modi has dictatorial tendencies. His home minister, Mr. Haren Pandya with whom he had differences was assassinated. He has a convicted criminal in his cabinet and has a benign tolerance to corruption. He is a master at crony capitalism. He is close to the Adani Group and has granted them all kinds of sops. He refuses to make his relations with the Ambanis and his stand on doubling of gas prices clear. Yet, if the opinion polls are to be believed, he is India’s most favoured Prime Ministerial candidate. I am unable to understand whether Narenra Modi has been able to hypnotise the Indian voters with his election campaign and rallies (the source of the funding of these expensive political events is of course a closely guarded sectret) or the modern day youth is as dumb and gullible as their illiterate parents and grandparents.
Mr. Rahul Gandhi is unofficially declared as the Congress Party’s nominee for the Prime Ministership. His experience in government is zero. He is well educated and appears honest. He does not appear to be power hungry. Is that enough to make him a better Prime Ministerial candidate than Kejriwal? The fact of the case is that no senior leader in the Congress takes him seriously. He is having difficulty in getting anti corruption laws passed. He is unable to have the corrupt punished or even prevent them from getting party tickets for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. He is not in a position to explain the source of funds for his rallies or clarify his stand on doubling the gas price at behest of Mukesh Ambani.
Kejriwal, as an ex bureaucrat has some firsthand knowledge of what goes on in the corridors of power. Kejriwal is intelligent (IIT graduate and IRS), honest and down to earth. He is not after money. (As income tax commissioner he could have made tons of it but quit to form an NGO). He is not power hungry. (He would not have resigned as CM of Delhi if he was). He is accepted by his party mates and the people as their leader. He is media savvy. He is fighting against corruption, nepotism and crony capitalism. Is he not likely to be a better PM than Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi?
A successful Prime Minister has to be a leader of men. He must passionately love his country and be ready to make sacrifices for his country. He must have the courage of conviction to stand his ground in national interest against foreign powers and domestic business and religious lobbies. He, like Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi, must be loved and respected by the ordinary people of India. He must be a man of vision capable of taking long term decisions which will benefit the country. He must be a man of compassion for the poor and down trodden. He must be the prime minister of all Indians, rich or poor; over privileged or under privileged; regardless of sex, religion, caste, community or political leaning.
We have many to choose from. We have the power hungry Narendra Modi and the petty leaders of regional parties who will fight amongst themselves when the time comes. (Have we forgotten that Chowdhury Charan Singh stabbed Moraji Desai in the back to get the chair in true Indian tradition? Have we forgotten that Chandra Shekhar stabbed VP Singh for the chair? Have we forgotten the miserable short reigns of Deve Gowda and IK Gujral? We also have Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal.
May we have the wisdom to choose the right person and his party.