COLUMN: Is Arvind about to get ‘Kejriwaled’ by Siddhu?

awaz-e-punjabWatching Navjot Singh Siddhu launch his new political party Awaz-e-Punjab even as Arvind Kejriwal is busy doing campaigning in the traditional way, one can be excused for suffering a sense of déjà vu – a sense that this has happened before.

Indeed it has, and Kejriwal was right there in the middle of it.

Siddhu speaking on live TV — using his characteristic wit and humor to criticize all political parties — reminds one of Kejriwal when he was not yet the chief minister of Delhi: When he was the challenger, the outsider who connected with the masses, who understood the absolute rage and despair that they felt towards the existing political set up.

Like Kejriwal, Siddhu offers hope — of ‘better days’, of a clean break from the politics of decay and cynicism.

Like Kejriwal in his challenger role, Siddhu has no district committees, no pradesh councils and no organizational machinery with which to challenge his infinitely more organized opposition.

But he uses what he has well — the power of the media.

Without the media, Kejriwal would still be a relatively unknown anti-corruption activist. And without the media, Siddhu’s dreams of being chief minister might as well be those of Mungerilal, the timid day dreamer of Prakash Jha’s serial in the late 80s.

But 2016 is not the 1989. It is the age of the mass media, buttressed by social media.

It is an age when you don’t need committees and panels in every mohalla to operate a political party.

It is a time where all you need is a leader who resonates with the people, a leader that people feel understands them. A leader, ultimately, that people trust.

Practically everything else can be overlooked (though not forever, as Kejriwal is realizing now.) A good leader can get you the CM chair, or even the PM chair as the BJP found out to their surprise.

Of course, whether you’re able to keep the chair and make something of your victory depends on a lot of other factors.

But for now, it looks like Kejriwal is about to get Kejriwaled by Siddhu and that Siddhu’s Awaz-e-Punjab will trump its rivals just like AAP came out of nowhere to beat the BJP and Congress in Delhi.

And that perhaps, is Kejriwal’s punishment for becoming CM, but failing to be the leader he projected himself as.
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