A psychotherapist’s open letter to Arvind Kejriwal

In an open letter, a psychotherapist tries to psycho-analyse Arvind Kejriwal—in a clinical yet compassionate way

You dared to care for the country; I dare to care for you!

Dear Mr. Arvind Kejriwal,

Who are you?

Gandhi? Bhagat Singh? Robin Hood? Hitler? Charlie Chaplin? The Messiah?

The television images of your small frame moving swiftly in procession with your followers, appears not unlike the ‘Dandi March’ of Gandhi to me.

While you try to play the quintessential political underdog and sympathy-seeking victim of the system, your comical attire of the topi-muffler-jhadoo combo replete with your trademark moustache and cough, makes many view you as a ‘political Charlie Chaplin’.

The remarks and behaviour of your coterie reminds one of the mythical Robin Hood and his band of Merrymen. The way you’ve threatened the administration, demanded your way at gun point, sorry! I meant dharna point, ignored the judiciary and disregarded every norm while fighting ‘for the country’ is akin to Bhagat Singh. And you have your very own Rajguru [Somnath Bharti] in tow.

There are many who view you as another Hitler with your Gestapo in the making, intent on a ‘class cleansing’ with your ‘Aam Aadmi’ vs. ‘Khaas Aadmi’ agenda. He was so sure he was doing the right thing and the rest of course is history…

Your promise of a new political system to replace the old and your message to all of ‘follow me and my Lokpal bill, as I am the way’, has shown suffering Indians the dream of a new dawn. It has given them the hope of a corruption-free India. So then, are you the Messiah and the saviour that this country has been waiting for?

So Arvind, should we admire you, pity you, fear you, or revere you?

From what I have seen in media reports, you have often been described by the media as:

Arvind the agitator: due to your dharna politics at the cost of inconveniencing the public.

Arvind the arrogant: due to your selective disregard for systems and processes, including your recent unwillingness to furnish the bail bond, blatantly ignoring the judicial system and due process.

Arvind the anarchist: due to your own declaration. You are abetting anarchy by asking uniformed officers to give up their jobs of maintaining law and order to join you in your mission.

Arvind the adamant: due to your unapologetic and inflexible stances on all matters, remaining unyielding and unwilling to negotiate with anyone over anything.

Arvind the antagonist: due to your rigid, bull-headed and undemocratic way of functioning within your own party. You are unwilling to be open to a view other than your own, thus antagonising the likes of Shazia Ilmi, Anjali Damania, Capt. Gopinath and several others.

Arvind the accuser: due to your sensationalist, defamatory statements and your over-generalising view of all politicians and those who do not toe your line.

Arvind the actor: due to your meticulous brand-building of a clean and righteous political underdog. You are trying to portray the aam aadmi [ordinary man], with the perfect costume of the jhadoo [broom], muffler and topi [cap], while camping on the perfect location of the cold Delhi streets to fight for the ordinary Indian.

Arvind the absurd: due to your flip-flopping over forming the Delhi government with Congress support. This was followed by the referendum game with the public, pouting over the Lokpal bill and walking out of government…only to return once again and wanting to form the government. This can only be called the theatre of the absurd.

Arvind the argumentative: due to your unwillingness to acknowledge and apologise until pushed to do so; but you can justify your stances and argue relentlessly.

Arvind the angry: due to your impulsive and irresponsible threats as C.M. about filling the Rajpath with your followers and not allowing Republic Day if your demands are not met.

Arvind the abusive: due to your view that Khap Panchayats serve a ‘cultural purpose’. Thus you indirectly endorse their harsh treatment of women. Also you justified the unlawful behaviour of Somnath Bharti and his cronies toward the Ugandan women in Delhi.

Arvind the aggressive: due to your words when you were C.M. saying that any irresponsible media should be thrown into jail. And also when you flexed your political muscle demanding police officers be dismissed without due process.

Arvind the abandoner: due to your betrayal of the trust of the people of Delhi. They placed their faith in you by giving you their valuable vote. However you abandoned the administration of the city over a Lokpal pout.

Arvind the addict: due to your addiction of getting your daily fix of featuring on prime time television. You resort to any and every antic to get your 15 minutes of fame in a news slot… preferably every day.

Arvind, tell me something. What’s with flouting every norm and every rule in the rule book? Don’t you know the folly of throwing the baby with the bath water? Aakhir Arvind Kejriwal ko itna gussa kyun aata hai?

I fully accept that sometimes, some structures have to be demolished and out of the box thinking needs to be employed to find solutions and for liberation from mediocrity. But to rebel without any discernment about which structure to break and which to maintain is foolish and might I add, counter-productive. You are not starring in Rang De Basanti; this is not ‘reel life’ but ‘real life’ with ‘real people’ seeking ‘real and sustainable solutions’ from someone who lives in and accepts ‘reality’.

When I look at you on television, I see you as a genuine and sincere activist gone astray.

Many who emulated you, used angry protests through the streets and being satirically abusive as a ‘fashion statement’. But your subsequent antics have made it no longer fashionable to be associated with you. Activism is healthy and even necessary, as it seeks to constructively negotiate solutions. But your arrogance and obstinacy is neither healthy, nor necessary, nor helpful and can only be counter-productive.

It’s time to admit that being a ‘verbal terrorist’ has not always served you well. While you and your eloquent orators started enjoying the sound of your own voices, you didn’t once realise that you were being too smart for your own good. Using verbal ammunition with arrogance on news channels; neither you nor your party once stopped to think that the ‘ends do not justify the means’.

You created a class war by naming your party the Aam Aadmi Party, and pitted yourself against whoever you chose to call the Khaas Aadmi. Don’t you get it, that in a democracy the duly elected representatives of the people are in fact the aam aadmi? And that floating a parallel democracy in a democratic country can only meet the fate your party has recently met in the general elections?

Those who originally admired you but subsequently disagreed with some of your ways were also labelled as ‘elitist ‘ by you.

You justify taking to the streets every now and then and call it a ‘superior way’. Preferring to administer from the streets than from an air-conditioned cabin, you can be accused of creating a dangerous class divide.

But remember Arvind, the streets you are proud of are the same streets where the Delhi gang-rape happened. And it is from air-conditioned cabins, from which rich philanthropists donate for social causes and do a lot of good work. And it is from such cabins that your party too has received much support.

How can you brush aside the intelligentsia of those who have a differing point of view about your ways? Kiran Bedi, Captain Gopinath and Chetan Bhagat have all tried to give you constructive feedback.

How are you different from the arrogant Americans who said, ‘If you are not with us, you are against us’?

Your unholy sense of righteousness and attitude of ‘my way or the highway’ has made many of your early supporters sadly leave you. When you defend that which cannot be defended, no right thinking Indian will continue to support you.

The Khap Panchayat in Bengal sentenced a woman to a gang-rape under certain circumstances, whille Somnath Bharti and his men sanctioned a gang-raid and gang-chase of Ugandan women based on a Mohalla Comittee’s insistence. You can surely be asked, how then is AAP different from KHAP? And does that not also reek of racism against Ugandans?

When Somnath Bharti and you choose to be prosecutor, judge, jury, and hangman, do you really think you are being democratic? To me it seems more like a ‘democratic-sounding  Taliban’.

You have allowed those from your inner circle like Kumar Vishwas to get away with gender and region bias under the garb of humour. His crass comment on dark-skinned nurses from Kerala, have not been punished. Tell me Arvind, how can a sexist, colour-biased party ever protect women’s rights? Which is not only about protecting women’s bodies but also about protecting their self-worth and self-esteem!

So when you are seen as sexist, classist and racist why does it upset you?

As for me, I see you as an impatient and impulsive yet innocent child, who is intolerant of perceived injustice and insistent on instant gratification of your version of justice.

Arvind, I do acknowledge that your original desire for a corruption-free India has merit and validity, but your ways are leading your dream awry.

Your belief is that you must have what you want when you want and how you want it. You clearly have entitlement issues, a very low impulse control, very low frustration tolerance, a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude. Your unhealthy sense of righteousness is coupled with the need to over-generalise and punish those who differ from your views. You are also closed, rigid and inflexible, which makes it impossible for you to see reason. Therefore it’s impossible for anyone to be able to negotiate solutions with you.

Arvind, you need some therapy and a prolonged Vipassana retreat before you self-destruct and/or behave in ways that defeat your own goals. There is so much potential in you, so much energy, yet so little that is getting actualised because of your unwillingness to think more rationally, emote more moderately, relate more reasonably and behave more functionally.

I am not a politician, nor a social worker, nor from the media, just a well-meaning observer of your socio-political journey. However, I do believe that the wellbeing of sincere and dedicated people like you is imperative for the wellbeing of our great nation.

Therefore I urge you to introspect and deeply reflect on all I have said before it is too late. I can see that the midwife [the media] who helped give birth to you is standing by to crucify and cremate you.

Here’s wishing you an inward journey of soul-searching and reflection and hoping that you actualise your great potential.

— Dr Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, Consulting Psychotherapist

[The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Complete Wellbeing magazine or its editors and publishers.]

Minnu Bhonsle
Dr Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, is a Mumbai-based consulting psychotherapist and counsellor. She conducts training programmes in Personal Counselling [Client-centred Therapy] and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, and also workshops in Stress Management, Art of Listening, Couple Therapy, and Communication Skills. Minnu has co-authored the book, The Ultimate Sex Education Guide along with Dr Rajan Bhonsle.