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Politics And The Common Man
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Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi represent two sides of the political spectrum. While the former is an IITian and former IRS officer who has the following of NGOs, socialists and secular forces; Modi is an RSS karyakarta turned PM-in-waiting whose following includes the saffron patronages, hi-tech leaders and business majors from the corporate.
The ideological bases of the two are worlds apart yet they both represent a common trait being pioneers in terms of their breaking the molds of political lineages and directly enmeshing with the big shots of the political world. Their fearless presence and actions have become a good for the incumbent government to pay heed to their every word. A recently conducted CNN IBN survey confirmed their perceived roles after the coming elections. While Kejriwal was highly favoured for the post of the Delhi CM, it was Modi who was preferred for the much coveted post of India's prime minister.
The youth brigade seemed to have highly favoured these two on the social media sites professing their support to Modi's uber persona and his claim to take on the 'shehzada' in his fight against dynastic politics in India. For Kejriwal, his IIT background with his astute analysis of the most complex of issues plaguing the country and his stress on transparency and accountability has been the charm. Both dwell on an anti-establishment image that has struck a chord with the common man.
One listen to their speeches and the plethora of images created by them becomes amply clear. If Modi is braving the rich and the mighty with his humble upbringing then Kejriwal is showcasing himself as the 'aam aadmi' who seeks social justice and wants to wipe out corruption from the root. Both these leaders depict themselves as the common men who are out to get the corrupt and bring in a sense of good governance in the country.
The growing traction for outsiders in the political cycle has been an obvious offshoot of the changing political dynamics across the globe. Since the election Obama in the USA, a fairly unknown but qualified candidate to one of the most powerful offices in the world has fueled the imagination of the talented everywhere. Moreover, in India, with the disconnect between those governing and the governed have significantly increased in the last decade and a growing sense of helplessness has seeped in the minds of the people. The people no longer seem to want a replacement but active governing people who are in touch with the ground realities. The "us vs them" sentiment is resonating like never before in Indian politics now.
Both Modi and Kejriwal also seem to draw their support from different voting groups. For Kejriwal, his support is the strongest amongst the low-income groups and the marginalized. His basic policy tenets largely cater to this section of society. For Modi, his support arises from the group who have significantly benefitted from economic liberalization. These two groups have largely felt betrayed by the recent bouts of large-scale corruption, inaction and misadventures by the ruling Congress party and fear that another term may significantly alter the growth process of the country.
Modi and Kejriwal have followed a similar pattern in their leadership style as well with their personality driven campaigns. Both have made greater and effective use of social media to leverage an advantage over their rivals.
Now the question that needs to be answered is will these two leaders succeed in their respective goals. Politics is a complex circle and even the fullest proof plans have gone astray at the last moment. At this stage, one would need to be patient for the Election Day to gauge how far these leaders have been able to understand the ground realities and convert public ire into parliamentary success.
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