Because he says so

For Kejriwal and his crew,political targets are guilty until proven guilty

Written by The Indian Express | Published: October 16, 2012 3:06 am

For Kejriwal and his crew,political targets are guilty until proven guilty

After launching a scorched-earth campaign against Law Minister Salman Khurshid,accusing his NGO of skimming off lakhs of rupees from funds for the disabled,and demanding nothing short of his immediate resignation,arrest and incarceration,Arvind Kejriwal has abruptly called off this round. His next event,a fresh set of “exposes”,has been set for October 17.

For over a week now,Kejriwal has kept the public discourse spinning with allegations of corruption. He levels charges and puts the burden of proof on the accused. He demands an investigation on his terms — everything else is a bad-faith compromise. In Khurshid’s case,Kejriwal alleged that the UP government was not likely to set up a trustworthy probe,because that’s how favour-swapping,corrupt politics works. Then,he shifted the focus to suit him,from embezzlement to bad book-keeping to shoddy delivery. He declared Khurshid’s evidence invalid and suggested that witnesses will inevitably be influenced,because after all,the law minister can “break anyone and force anyone to say anything”. In other words,Kejriwal closes off any possibility of fair scrutiny,and those he declares corrupt must be so because he said so. He is waging a war of impressions,and proof is besides the point. He is talking to those who who share his radical distrust of politicians and political institutions,who assume the worst based on scanty information. This cynical strategy counts on those who cannot be bothered to press further,who are swayed by resonant details. In this,he has been aided by a media that prefers to go along with his reality show,staging TV trials between the political defence and the prosecution,rather than verifying his claims. They must consider where they want to take this relationship,if they don’t want to become a soapbox for Kejriwal.

Meanwhile,Kejriwal himself should realise the diminishing returns of his strategy,of accusing one target after another while hoping to set his party up as the righteous counterpoint to the swamp of mainstream politics. Public attention is famously fickle,and sooner or later,he will have to go beyond mudslinging,stunts with electricity cables and fielding disabled candidates against Salman Khurshid (by the way,“differently-abled” is a better term). He will have to provide some answers of his own. Without Anna Hazare’s moral leadership and Justice Hegde’s intellectual weight,Kejriwal will have to demonstrate what he has to offer the people.

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