Imran Khan’s guru

Arvind Kejriwal can claim tuition fee from Khan, and had Anna Hazare applied fairness cream and screamed with his fists clenched, he would have been known as Qadri

Imran Khan’s guru
I often struggle to start off an opinion piece with phrases and lines that have a certain flourish. Because that’s how I like analyses and narrations to read: sophisticated. Or, humorous. While penning this piece mentally, I was writing, re-writing and throwing away the crumpled sheets of paper into a mental trash can. My trouble eased when a friend and I were watching Imran Khan’s current political tamasha that has held Lahore-to-Islamabad ransom. This friend said in his typical Lakhnawi style: Abey, ab ismein bhi humari hi naqal karengey (Will they copy us in this field too)? The reference was to Pakistan copying India in one way or another. This came up when we heard Khan call for civil disobedience a couple of days back to his “seeming millions” (not “teeming millions”), advising them to not pay electricity and gas bills. Taxes. We were instantly reminded of a phenomenon once known as Arvind Kejriwal.

Kejriwal can claim guru dakshina from Khan. Simply put, a tuition fee. In chaste Hindi. Sanskrit, on second thoughts. But that’s offered and accepted when the guru and the chela (disciple) are physically together. However, the flexibility and magnanimity of Hinduism notwithstanding, it also provides for an in-absentia tuition and hence, its fee. Kejriwal could demand that from Khan.

Anna Hazare poses with a child
Anna Hazare poses with a child

Kejriwal had in 2012, advised his frenzied followers to not pay electricity and water bills. You ask why? Because he made the frenzied crowds believe that the recent hike in electricity bills was only going to make the then Delhi chief minister, Shiela Dixit, and the private power companies laugh their way to the bank. And when he became chief minister of Delhi, he even rewarded those who had obeyed his call to not pay bills to that “corrupt” government. A 50 per cent rebate was given to the 24,000 households which complied. The brunt was to be borne via a subsidy amounting to Rs 6 crore. The matter went to the Delhi High Court via a PIL and the court announced the government had no surplus money to account for this subsidy. As a result, people hailed his call to commit what I think is no less than a crime, adhered to it, got their electricity and water connections cut off, and got penalised. Last month, someone in the Congress party told me that a man of meagre means came complaining inconsolably against Kejriwal for this damaging instruction to the innocent, politically unaware people who thought he would make life easier for them. He produced a bill plus penalty of Rs 35,000 payable to the power company. The poor man had a huge family and Rs 35,000 perhaps meant a year’s food supply.

[quote]Even though Khan sahib is super handsome, he is dim[/quote]

Such instructions are unlawful. They abet crime. They are discriminatory towards those who are on the right side of the law while encouraging and saving the skin of those who find it easy to shred. The likes of Kejriwal and Khan, and more importantly, their followers need to understand that leaders are born, not manufactured. Kejriwal was manufactured by India’s media. Khan, by Pakistan’s media and you-know-who. By that theory, they are not leaders. At best, call them crowd pullers. In populous and excitable societies like India and Pakistan, pulling crowds is no biggie. We are driven by religion, politics, cost of living, cricket, cinema, India-Pakistan, Sunny Leone (or her acts). And Khan/Kejriwal specialise in many of these areas.

Religion, yes. Take Tahirul Qadri. Prefix Dr or Allama according to gravity of the threat you perceive from his obsequious “fidayeen” followers. I hear they are mostly women. Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi also had female bodyguards. No wonder Gaddafi Stadium and Minhajul Quran headquarters are in Lahore! Had Anna Hazare, India’s mild-mannered, peaceful Gandhian protestor for all seasons, applied fairness cream and screamed like an epileptic with his fists clenched, index fingers upturned and given a call for the murder of a family of politicians, he would have been known as Qadri. Anna, in the name of Bharat Mata, managed to get a crowd of 10,000 (claimed they were several lakhs) at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan in 2011 in the India Against Corruption movement. And mind you, when Bharat becomes a mother (as in, Bharat Mata, ha!), Muslim support is next to none. Because for most of us Hindus, Bharat and gaai (cow) humari mata hai, aage kuchh nahin aata hai. But politics knows and goes beyond rhetoric and hyperbole. Anna sat on a two-week fast against the backdrop of the RSS’ Akhand Bharat map which includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh. Anna received copious help from Baba Ramdev, who makes no bones about his rigid views on Hinduism.

[quote]The devout, conservative middle class gets mobilised by public figures like Qadri and Anna because such icons stir their emotions[/quote]

Trouble is, our masses largely follow one religion. So the Babas and Allamas can polarise them as easily as a knife can run through butter. Unassuming, innocent but politically ignorant people easily get swayed by their hollow yet impactful speeches. Mostly the devout, conservative middle class gets mobilised by public figures like Qadri and Anna because such icons stir their emotions, which are anyway brimming in our part of the world, due to the challenges of day-to-day survival. Their vacuous yet moving words cause the brimming cup to overflow. And when Allah and Bhagwan (or Bharat Mata, in the case of India’s Hindus) are brought in to help “awaken” the “sleeping” masses, the masses are all the more ready to sit up, take notice and even endure sleeplessness. Because they’ve been promised “change”?. And this change keeps changing with the changing tide. So when Kejriwal led the Aam Aadmi Party and became Delhi CM, Anna changed for him and abandoned him. And now that he has resigned from the post that he quarrelled for, his aam aadmis have also changed: they disowned him in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and speak in a tone of disillusionment.

Most people may think the Azadi and Inquilab marches in Pakistan are meant to lead the PML-N government to the gallows. I disagree. Mian Nawaz Sharif sahib, you have a blessing in disguise. Kejriwal and Anna timed their agitation/politics strategically towards the end of the Congress-led government of Manmohan Singh and saw them off. Even if the government wanted to make amends and turn the tide in their favour, they didn’t have much time left. Fortunately for you, even though Khan sahib is super handsome, he is dim. Your government is only 14-months-old. You have all the time and resources entitled to you to prove K-Q wrong.