Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressing a rally in Delhi. Photo: Courtesy Aam Aadmi Party

Dear Rahul Gandhi: I am a proud citizen of India. I walk, talk and fight every day so that the founding principles your great-grandfather, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, espoused, my forefathers supported and I believe in are protected. In the process, I am insulted, humiliated and called a “Pidi” after your pet dog by detractors who only look at all conversations from a narrow prism. You can read a bit about my opinions in this article.

We all raised our voices when democracy and the people’s mandate were vitiated in the states of Mizoram and Goa, where your party was denied the right to form a government despite being the single largest party. It is these voices that may have played a small part in keeping anti-democratic forces at bay in Karnataka. It is these same forces that will come to your aid in 2019, too.

But our support is neither unconditional nor can it be taken for granted. We want to see you standing for the right people, for the right issues, on the right principles. We want you think like us, the people, rather than as a politician. We want you to look at India not through the lens of a political party.

You, as the leader of the grand old party, have an opportunity to set the right discourse for the country. You can surprise politicians by not behaving like one. You can be the breath of fresh air India is looking to breathe in this claustrophobic environment.

As a young leader, you can set the discourse, direction and debate that India can traverse over the next two decades. We understand that being a politician comes with its own compulsions. But at times if you don’t unshackle yourself, the victory you attain could be worse than a defeat.

And this is where I have been severely disappointed. Your silence on the Delhi government, held hostage by a unelected official like the lieutenant-governor appointed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is shameful. This is a murder of the people’s mandate, which elected the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government with an overwhelming majority. The Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government has been harassed by Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal at every stage, not allowed to make decisions, his powers snatched away illegally, and is now facing a constitutional crisis, where bureaucrats refuse to cooperate with elected ministers.

The so-called unity of the opposition parties to save democracy cannot be selective. Despite the hatred espoused by Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken, you can be seen as taking a stand and speaking up. Your victory cannot be by cutting others to size. You cannot be a tall leader by making others look small.

The Delhi fiasco is an opportunity that walked toward you so that you could emerge as a leader beyond partisan politics. This was a case of you standing up for good governance and rise above petty politics.

This isn’t about the Indian National Congress or the AAP. This isn’t about Goa or Delhi. This isn’t about you or Kejriwal. This is about India. This is about democracy. This is about federalism. This is about people’s mandate being vitiated, molested and lynched every day – bit by bit, every minute, every day. And you are a silent spectator.

The Congress party’s behavior is appalling. Your silence is crying out. And every passing day, you are falling by not speaking up against this blatant murder of India’s democratic tenets by a vengeful central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This is the opportunity. Either you are the leader India is looking for, or you are like any other politician seeking power. Don’t win the battle for Delhi while losing the war for India. Who do you want to be? A leader for India or a politician as we all know them to be?

The choice for now is yours. But in 2019, it will be ours.

Regards
Humanist
An Indian
A Delhiite.

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world's first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now. 

Maheshwar Peri

The author is a chartered accountant by training and the chairman of Careers360.com, a magazine on issues related to education.