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An open letter to Arvind Kejriwal on high moral ground and other slippery slopes

Sunday, 22 December 2013 - 6:56am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
  • Uday Mohite DNA

Dear Mr Kejriwal,

It is Sunday morning and I wonder if you will have time to read this letter, given that you may be still sorting out the lakhs of missives sent by the Delhi electorate to help you decide whether you should form the government or not.

My letter though germane to the issue, is about other things, namely: morality, human error and er, the choice of one’s headgear.

But let me begin by congratulating you sir, on your fine performance and victory.

I, along with many others had watched the Anna Hazare agitations for a corruption-free government with mounting exhilaration; the massive crowds, the rousing speeches, the promise of hope for the ordinary Indian; who could not have been moved by it all? Against the cynicism of many of my peers, I had cheered for you, and the triumph of good over evil. Who could fail to be moved by the sight of your rag tag army of men and women taking on the collective powers of State machinery? Who could fail to think of David and Goliath and the poetic justice of such morality tales? I had watched your rallies with a lump in my throat and a song in my heart. (But then I must caution you about my gauche sentimentality — I also am known to have wept in Manmohan Desai movies. Yes sir, even Amar Akbar Anthony!)

My reasons for writing to you Mr Kejriwal are not to bring up past hopes and present concerns, it is to articulate some other matters that have been troubling me lately,  and prime above all is this: can any leader who covers himself with the mantle of morality, ever live up to his public image and self-claimed ethical standards? Simply put, I’m asking if you are frightened of being hoisted on your own petard?

Look at the long and inglorious list of fallen heroes Mr Kejriwal: eminent bankers, crusading journalists, renowned judges, celebrated management stars, even your own party colleagues, erstwhile and present. Isn’t the high moral ground too slippery a slope on which to predicate one’s career and life’s mission? What I’m asking Mr Kejriwal is in this age of sting and spin — can any leader who carries the sword of righteousness bear up 24X7 to public scrutiny or the standards that they have set for themselves?

In the great paradigm of right and wrong and black and white, would you concede that there are shades of grey, and this is where most — if not all — of us live our lives?

We are  after all poor souls trapped in human bodies that live, love, desire, covet, yearn,  aspire and fail. Who can deny that even though we all aspire towards goodness and greatness we are mortals, born to fail, pick ourselves up,  fail again in an endless game of Maya;  and that high morals are the prerogative of those who can afford them? Who can deny that the mantle of self-righteousness can smother even the sweetest smelling amongst us?

What I’m trying to say Mr Kejriwal is that now that you have reached this far, the time has come to divest yourself of the self-righteousness and sanctimony that you have so far displayed. The hour has come to get off your high horse and walk the talk for the rest of the journey. To get your hands dirty in the ebb and flow, the cut and thrust of realpolitik.  To take the plunge, embrace the risk, seize the moment.  Any thing less will be seen as cowardly.

As for the cap and muffler — time for you to fold them  up and put them away.  Along with the halo.

Have a thoughtful Sunday!

Yours sincerely etc

Malavika Sangghvi

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