The politics of symbolism, despite its pretense to be that for the Aam Admi, is really the politics of the elite. By its very nature, politics of symbolism is vacuous and therefore depends completely on favorable spin by those controlling the narrative setting medium – the media and the intelligentsia. This perforce makes the practitioners of politics-of-symbolism hostage to the interests of the elite – the media and the intelligentsia – for without their positive spin, the practitioners of symbolism would evaporate in thin air.
The common man, for whom this politics is purportedly meant for, gets the symbolism – the wearing of the skull cap, the ride in the metro ( for a few days) by the ministers, the junta durbar – but none of his real world problems are solved and a brighter future is most certainly not built. Indeed it is almost certainly imperiled.
We have to look no further than Rahul Gandhi and his meal eating sojourns in Dalit homes – what could be more symbolic than sharing a meal with the poorest? Yet, as we have seen in the last few years, that poor has not only seen his income erode due to stifling inflation but has also seen the scary reality of his future looking even bleaker due to slump in growth.
What Kejriwal is practicing is exactly what Rahul Gandhi did all these years, only with slightly more media savvy. Rahul Gandhi did not make the poor, in whose homes he ate his meals, richer and did not solve the problems of the farmers cheated in Bhatta Parsaul. Arvind Kejriwal, quite like Rahul Gandhi, will not solve the problems of chronic shortage of electricity and will not solve the problems of corruption. But it is not their intent either to solve these problems. For had it been the intent of Kejriwal to really solve problems, would he have not completed at least one task before moving on to the next? Jan Lokpal not delivered but moved on to forming a political party, not one issue of corruption case raised by him taken to logical conclusion ( unlike say Dr. Swamy in 2G ) and yet moved on to allying with same forces, governance not yet delivered in Delhi and already moving on to national stage?
Presenting below a series of 10 tweets I wrote on the Politics of Symbolism and its effects and why we must choose wisely in 2014.