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Home > 2020 > Please, Sir, I Want Some More: Freeloader tells Kejriwal

Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 10 New Delhi, February 22, 2020

Please, Sir, I Want Some More: Freeloader tells Kejriwal

Friday 28 February 2020

by L.K. Sharma

Dear Shri Arvind Kejriwal,

This habitual freeloader was thrilled by your letter that came before the historic Delhi elections. Apologies for this delayed response. My open letter earlier would have been misused by the Modi Party that was determined to defeat you. I wanted you to win so that I can enjoy the promised free pilgrimages. One does not live by free water and electricity alone but needs spiritual salvation too.

Now that the most vicious-ever war has been lost and won and there is no danger of the Election Commission or the Prime Minister citing your letter in a poll-related complaint against you, I can publicly express my gratitude to you.

In a soot-laden grey and grim morning, the postman knocked and surprised me with your beautiful personalised letter printed on off-white handmade heavy paper with the national logo, your name and your address embossed in gold. Unlike a government office, you used a decent A-4 sized cover so that the letter is not folded and reaches me in its pristine condition.

I was thrilled by the very idea of the government financing my escape to beautiful temple towns from the gas chamber that is Delhi. Your spiritual regeneration project lessened the morning gloom caused by the city’s severe air pollution. The offer of free pilgrimage to all those above 60 years of age cheered up the humans, like me, as well as Gods and Goddesses to be visited by numerous more pilgrims. In order to benefit from this government scheme, many non-believers will turn into devotees of one Hindu God or the other. By one stroke of pen, you have launched the biggest mass conversion scheme.

You give a wide choice of 12 holy places, highlighting India’s diversity. The state will take care of travel, boarding and lodging expenses. Your next poll manifesto should promise to offer cash for donating in the temple and buying garlands and prasad for the idol.

You have undermined your rival BJP by fighting it on its own ground. Imagine the sarkari pilgrims travelling to Ayodhya in trains painted with the face of Arvind Kejriwal, listening to you over a hi-tech sound system.Your bhajans will be a bigger hit than Man ki Baat.

I shared the news with my friend Irfan who wondered whether his Muslim name will come in the way if he applies for the pilgrimage. I pointed out that the government does not mind Hindus opting for a pilgrimage to a Gurudwara in Amritsar. My Muslim friend wants to visit Ayodhya to pray at the remains of the Babri mosque.

Your solemn promise not to let me undergo any discomfort during the pilgrimage is so reassuring. Recognising the infirmities of the elderly people, your government will meet the expenses for one young attendant accompanying me. Your letter gives intimations of mortality but then as my senior moments multiply, I would soon forget your grave warning.

You say my advanced age qualifies me for your generous offer. On that basis, I enjoyed free local public transport in Great Britain but that ungodly government never ever thought of offering a complimentary trip to the Somnath Temple.You are a pioneering politician.

You seem to believe that politics without religion will be unethical. As a former IITian, you confirm through your letter that in India religion and S&T are two sides of the same coin. That is why some politicians present mythology as science and scientific facts as myths. A very popular temple to Saturday God is seen just outside the gate of the IIT Delhi.

As a trained engineer, you go beyond faith and give a rationale for this freebie. No justification was needed. No BJP Ministers will dare to take the electoral risk of opposing a scheme designed to serve the Divine. A Sadhvi in their ranks has made them aware of the power of curse. Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, during his interactive session with Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, highlighted the importance of spirituality for leading a peaceful and purposeful life. The President and the Prime Minister subscribe to the same view and thus there is a national consensus on this issue.

You show a strong streak of patriotism by saying that a nation that respects and serves old people makes fast progress. Your statement that you will earn the blessings of the elderly people shows how deeply rooted you are in Indian culture. You are a true Hindu beta, like Shravan Kumar who took his parents on a pilgrimage, carrying them on his shoulder. The oldies blessed you and prayed for your longevity as the Chief Minister.

Their dutiful young sons voted for you since you lifted a great burden off their shoulders. They all read about Shravan Kumar in their childhood. Doing 7/24 jobs, they are unable to accompany the parents even in airconditioned trains.They are guilt-stricken because they are deeply religious. You see young men wearing I LOVE NEW YORK T-shirts mobbing temples every Saturday.

Arvind Bhai, you can do more. Please expand your free pilgrimage scheme and foil the Modi Government’s attempt to sabotage it. Announce its expansion and pre-empt the Opposition who will promise to double the number of holy destinations. Factor in the coming announcement of the Pradhan Mantri Mandir Digital Parikrama Seva.

Make the scheme more inclusive. Do not leave out the temples of West Bengal. Include Tankara in Gujarat, the birthplace of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, in order to irritate your opponents who ignore him because he sought to reform Hinduism.

Please, globalise the scheme since Hinduism has a global presence. Take us to the Pashupati-nath Temple of Nepal, glorious Hindu temples of Cambodia, Swaminarayan Temple of London, and the hall in Chicago from where Swami Vivekananda sounded the bigule of Hinduism that was heard all over the world.

We want to visit every country where they have their own Ramayan. Your recognition of multiple Ramayans will be a befitting reply to your opponents who got an essay by Ramanujan deleted from the Delhi University’s history syllabus. Lord Ram’s birthplace has aroused mass interest and we want to see the spot where he won a war with the help of your Lord Hanuman.

The government can raise extra resources to extend the scheme to Hollywood Hindus, as V. S. Naipaul called them.The NRIs are more ardent Hindus and will gladly pay for the pilgrimage and fill your coffers with dollar bills.

Apart from internationalising this scheme, please give it a local dimension also. Delhi itself has a large number of temples. Provide free transport in vans equipped to carry wheel chairs. The vans publicising the name of the local MLA sshould take the senior citizens to the Durga Puja pandals. Visits to the river front for Chat Puja will break your opponents’ non-Punjabi vote-bank.

Let me alert you. You will face an unprece-dented demand for visiting Ayodhya which will require huge resources. The poor benefi-ciaries of Delhi would willingly surrender some of the freebies for a holy cause. In this land of sadhus and mahants, faith matters and it matters even more after a recent Supreme Court judgment.

As the brain-child of an IITian, this scheme musthave a technology component. You know information is power. So, empower the elderly people through an Arvind App. They can view the temples on the screen and choose where to go if they get the netbooks free. The wi-fi-enabled netbooks should provide for electronic havan by priests belonging to both Arya Samaj and Sanatan dharma. The tablet displaying a GIF image of sacrificial fire (no smoke emitted for the sake of environment) will have a debit card slot for offering dakshina to the priest. The Delhi Government gifts a card with your photo charged with a token amount to initiate the elderly people who will later start getting it recharged. A telecom company will gladly sponsor this scheme on the punya-sharing basis.

You got my home address from some agency and that gives me another idea on how to finance your scheme. Data is new gold. These pilgrims will yield data about the Hindu sub-groups such as Shaiva and Shakta, devotees of Lord Ram and those of Lord Krishna.The number of visitors to Pushkar will indicate that Brahma, the creator, is less popular than Shiva, the destroyer. This data will be of immense use to your party. Commercial companies will pay huge sums for tailoring their advertisements to suit the customer’s faith.

The free pilgrimage scheme has created a win-win situation for the temple priests and for you. Now no one will dare to call you anti-Hindu. If any party calls you that, you can depend on thousands of Hindus like me coming out hobbling or on wheel chairs and raising slogans in your favour. Just imagine the impact of those moving images on the voters! The preparations for the next elections begin now!

Some crib that your party had claimed to be exceptional but then joined the political mainstream. A political party is not an NGO. Your critics should know that you are up against political operators who face criminal charges and yet display their religiosity before the TV cameras. You were compelled to modify your politics. This idle chatter about New Politics could not have taken you anywhere.

You stole your opponent’s clothes and showed that one cannot be too principled in order to counter an unprincipled man. Every successful politician stoops to conquer. When your opponents asked the voters not to recognise you by your new stolen clothes, you recited Hanuman Chalisa and convinced the voters of your Hindu identity. I am glad a TV anchor challenged you to recite Hanuman Chalisa.

You must thank your political Guru who taught you that religion pays in politics. This was not a lesson that your learnt in the IIT. Please ignore your secular critics who disapprove of your belief that only poison kills poison. When the nation is on the sickbed, it needs a pragmatic person like you, not gentle theoreticians debating the malady. You realised it was no time to make a token gesture to prove your secularism. You had to rob the BJP Supremo of his monopoly over Hinduism and nationalism. Let them call you Chota Modi. Tony Blair did not mind being called Margret Thatcher in Trousers.

You had to stop a juggernaut. Your defeat would have been cited as an endorsement of the Hindu Rashtra project. Imagine how the juggernaut would have rolled crushing whatever came in its way. Perhaps Lord Hanuman realised that and, as you said, he blessed you. He interceded on your behalf and prayed to Lord Sri Ram to look away from his devotees in Delhi just on the polling day.

You won a battle but the war promises to go on. Tactics can take you only that far. Then you need a strategy. You can undermine your opponents on a long-term basis only if you mount an ideological challenge. Do not conjure up a post-ideology world. Ideology matters. Many Delhi people voted for you because they dread the ideology based on hatred, perennial low-level violence and aggressive rhetoric —an ideology designed to kill the idea of India.

A large section of Hindus remains committed to our civilisational values. We have not fallen prey to the massive disinformation campaign. We don’t want the India of Gandhi and Nehru to be turned into a dystopia.

We, the voters, are impressed by your project management. But do not see yourself only as a tyre company CEO. New Politics cannot be just about improving school education. You are equipped to fix the sewer system, irregular power supply and air quality but please understand that mental pollution is more hazardous than physical pollution. If you care for the well-being of the citizens of Delhi, it is time you started lifting the cloud of mental pollution. A poisoned polity needs attention. Remember in 2014, we all fell for the promise of Rs 15 lakhs in every bank account because we alllove freebies. So, we like free water and electricity, but we also want peace and social harmony in our own economic interests.

Since you have given so much, may I have some more?

You were made by an IIT, a premier Nehruvian institute. You owe it to the IITs to start countering the vicious propaganda against Nehru. During the poll campaign, you assiduously avoided the trap laid for you by the Modi Party to project you as friend of Muslims. So, you refrained from referring to the larger problems bedevilling this nation. Discretion was justified during the poll campaign. You had to display the soft side of Hindutva and not show your empathy for non-Hindus. Now there is no risk in coming out in your true secular colours. Don a skull cap for a day and visit Shaheen Bagh one evening. They would love to hear you reciting Hanuman Chalisa. You will find many among the Shaheen Bagh protestors who know Hanuman Chalisa.

Surely as an ordinary citizen of India, and more so as the Chief Minister of Delhi, you feel concerned about religious polarisation, demo-cracy, freedom of expression, and the Consti-tution of India. Please present a copy of the Preamble of the Constitution to the Prime Minister at the next photo-op. Perhaps you will not because you are no longer an activist, having matured as a mainstream politician.

Be brave. Talk about the Lok Pal even if that issue has lost its utility after you used it so effectively. Revive your demand for making Delhi a State. Irritate the hate-mongers and bigots as only you can. Take the message of social harmony to the people. You could not free India from corruption but you can detoxify mass consciousness a little because the Delhi people trust you.We saw two models of Kejriwal and await the emergence of the third one.

The choice is yours, Arvind Bhai, if you wish to be even more pragmatic and see profit in surrendering to the Prime Minister for a future joint political enterprise. You have made conciliatory noises and given up your earlier demands. Your noble gestures towards the Prime Minister come at a time when even Modi’s allies are distancing themselves from him.When you crusaded against Old Politics, you discredited the politicians who keep all options open. Of course, you know that we admire political craftiness. You may invite the charge of cowardice but your U-Turn will surprise none in this land of Aaya Rams and Gaya Rams!

Thanking you. A Senior Citizen

The author is a senior journalist and writer who worked in India and abroad (notably Britain) in several major newspapers. Now retired, he is a freelancer.

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