King the Con

There is almost a daily dose of comically simulated high drama animation on TV channels, especially in that cacophonic cartoon TV which claims to be ‘your channel’
Amit Sengupta Delhi

The irony about Arvind Kejriwal is that his propaganda adrenaline and ‘I am the only Prophet’ aphrodisiac are driven by panting television channels which are as ‘educated’ as this former Indian Revenue Service bureaucrat. There is almost a daily dose of comically simulated high drama animation on TV channels, especially in that cacophonic cartoon TV which claims to be ‘your channel’. Even some self confessed commodity ‘brands’ in the print media, either unilaterally driven by advertorials, or page 3 vicarious voyeurism or, by their self righteous, conservative Tam-Bram instincts, have been going gaga over Kejri – the King of Kong, in trade-mark half-shirt, his style statement. Even the cameras floated endlessly on the ‘I am Arvind’ caps, so uncritically replacing the ‘I am Anna’ caps which arrived as the Great God of the Great Indian Revolution that Failed.

Indeed, in trying to be one up in the competitive race on the pompous high morality brigade in the media, sometimes they publish not one, not two, even three pictures of the Kangaroo Court crusader, even while the ‘Gandhian messiah of the masses’, after a luxurious stint in a luxurious nature therapy centre in Bangalore run by a big business family with VHP links, has comfortably withdrawn to the de-addiction of Ralegan Siddhi where he once upon a time flogged or threatened to flog boozards, tied to a fascist pole.

So addictive is this new Harpic-induced soul-cleansing conditioner, that Kejriwal might actually start getting pathological stomach cramps if he chooses to stop his ritualistic bad mouth let loose in front of TV cameras, even as he chases the Limca Book of Records for the umpteenth number of press conferences held in the shortest era of Hobbesean India. After Magsaysay, and all the Ford Foundation etc., big money, this does not sound too bad, does it? No wonder everyone is singing that sexy cuddly-doodly-parody all over town: Kejri Kejri Kejri mujhe log bole… Hi Kejri, Hello Kejri kyo bolein…

Like the paradox of compulsively celebrating the lowest common denominator of the stuttering Indian salvation, you take away the salivating, flattering, hectoring TV cameras, and the parody goes dud, and so does the King of Kong. So if Kejriwal has Anna’s photostat picture stamped all over his heart (as he announced soon after the messiah decisively ditched him for the saffron pastures of RSS-front Ramdev), is Narendra Modi too stamped on his Xeroxed heart? Unfunny, uncanny, isn’t it? In the entire campaign from Anna Part I at Jantar Mantar and Ramila Ground in Delhi, to the super dud show in Mumbai, to the multi-dud box office super flops thereafter all over the country, did you ever hear a whimper whispered against the muscle-man with thick bloody red lips who master-minded it all in Gujarat 2002?

This is because Kejriwal discovered Nitin Gadkari and the Sangh Parivar too late. That too, after having strategically used all the fronts of the Sangh Parivar at the Ramlila show in the first instance. And the fact is, Gadkari was ‘re-discovered’ by Kejriwal’s latest loyalist, Anjali Damania (pray, whatever happened to IAC superstar Kiran Bedi?), who reportedly inherits a long inheritance of RSS family loyalty. Innocent as she was, she basically went across to Gadkari, asking for logical help because she thought he was part of the same ideological family! Gadkari backtracked, according to her, tacitly aligning with the powerful uncle and son of Mahashtra: “Char kaam hamare woh karte hain, char kaam unke hum karte hain…”

That is how, she, the current crusader of purity, found her imminent revelation, under Gadkari’s enlightened Bodhi tree nourished by all the damned waters of Vidarbha, haunted by thousands of debt-stricken farmer suicides. Earlier, indeed, did she not write a letter asking the state government to spare her land, and concentrate instead on adivasi land when it comes to displacement? Is that how her heart and her mentor’s IAC heart beats for the adivasis, even as countless land struggles stalk the country, most often led by emaciated rag tag armies of the adivasis against the armed might of the State and corporates?

So, will Kejriwal please tell us, whose photo is printed on Anjali Damania’s real estate heart? And indeed, as YP Singh, his former comrade, has alleged, “Why did he and Anna go soft on Sharad Pawar on Lavasa? Why?”

You don’t have to be on ‘your channel’ to know that Team Anna, since the first day of its immaculate conception into a divine television incarnation, or earlier, decisively chose to sidetrack all the innumerable people’s movements stalking the Indian landscape, against massive corporate and State repression, from Nandigram, Singur, Lalgarh, to Posco, Kashipur, Niyamgiri, Jaitapur. Even the brief Kudankulam stunt by Kejriwal was an aberration, a pseudo after-thought, as quickly vanishing into his blabbering on television. So why is Kejriwal given so much play and not the fighting Indian masses on the ground who take up cudgels against the neo-liberal State in remote, invisible, difficult terrains of this ravaged landscape?

Ask Abhay Sahoo, leader of the protracted anti-Posco struggle. Ask him about his notes from the prison. Ask him about how undernourished women and children made human chains on the ground, holding on to the soil of their homeland, blocking armed police, not once but several times, beaten, jailed, hounded.

Ask SP Udaya Kumar, writer and activist, how did he and his comrades sustain the anti-nuclear plant struggle on earth, on the sea, across the coastal villages, where the cops went berserk, entering churches, beating them black and blue, with hundreds trapped under sedition charges?

Or ask the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA) based in Delhi, how difficult and dangerous has it been to take on the notorious Special Cells of the Delhi Police and elsewhere, even as young and old Muslims are tortured, hounded, jailed, and killed in fake encounters, many of them condemned as terrorists – and released after years of abject condemnation inside prisons, because of stunning lack of evidence!

So why does the media eternally chase Kejriwal and his prosperous foreign-funded NGO, and his discredited bunch of nobodies, even when he is completely disconnected from the ground reality of India, chasing his own megalomania, obsessed with TV grandstanding, without a history of mass struggles, resistance or sacrifice?

Why is it that when some Delhi-based Johnny-Come-Latelys, who have betrayed or ditched their comrades in the faction-ridden Team Anna, flaunt their half-baked political party with a handful of supporters, it suddenly seems like a great revolution to all ‘your corporate channels’?

And when thousands march or protest, fight stoic and infinite battles, across the invisible Indian landscape, why do the channels and newspaper brands go blink?

It is because we have become collective morons. A nation of prime time morons. We hate the complex realism or resistance of India. There is no leap of imagination in this tyranny of mediocrity. We love this low level, high decibel spectacle.  It dumbs, numbs our minds and senses. It’s our anti-catharsis. It television’s own catharsis.

Our saviour has arrived, another bad-mouthing fascist with a pole: King the Con!

First published in Kindle magazine, Kolkata, November 2012