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dna comment: Two actors, one stage

Thursday, 9 January 2014 - 2:05pm IST | Place: Jaipur | Agency: DNA

Statements, declarations, transfers, committees, probes -- to any foreigner turning pages of the local newspaper it would appear that a revolution of sorts is underway in Rajasthan and Delhi. The revolutionaries being none other than Vasundhara Raje and Arvind Kejriwal.

These two leaders, with origins and ideologies as diverse as diverse can be, are tied at the elbows by certain realities -- they enjoy unnerving levels of popular trust, are running against time, trying to meet unnatural expectations and are behaving like Hercules cleaning up the Augean stable.

Raje won a genuine election by a margin that could put to shame even the manufactured electoral victories of Communist parties in the former Soviet Bloc. Kejriwal, on the other hand, won second place in Delhi – but emerged victorious (he continues to get ‘votes’ even though the polls are over). The unnerving part of this reality, for both, is the following: How to use this mandate without losing a sense of proportion and how to hold on to it for dear life (for history might never repeat itself).

For both, the 2014 elections is a crucial test – hence the sprint against time. For Raje, it is delivering 25 Lok Sabha seats to Narendra Modi -- who is expecting no less, forever watching and neither forgives nor forgets. For Kejriwal, the test is akin to life and death. Is he a phoenix, a phenomenon, a blip in our long history or is he actually the man India (not just Delhi) awaits? The 2014 election results will deliver the verdict on him -- as acutely as it will for Modi and Rahul Gandhi.

With great power come greater expectations. The Rajasthan chief minister is expected to turn Jaipur into a world city and the state into an engine for growth. Kejriwal is expected to kill the water mafia in Delhi, wash clean the Jal Board and supply cheap electricity. He is even expected to stay at a modest house!

Now, the Hercules and the Augean stable part. It seems the duo is working in tandem.

Raje shuffles around 97 IPS officers and 57 IAS officers, while as Kejriwal shifts 800 Delhi Jal Board officials and seven IAS babus. Raje now stops at red lights and has cut down her security detail. 

Both have issues with their official residences, existing energy policies, corruption, past practices and the Congress. And, most definitely, with each other -- for Vasundhara Raje, the slow infiltration of the Aam Admi Party in Rajasthan is a cause for worry, while the virtual single-party system that now exists in the Desert State is not an ideal political playground for Arvind Kejriwal.

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