A role model for Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal? Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica
Arvind Kejriwal’s housing issues bring to mind Uruguay’s Jose Mujica. Not because the Uruguayan president had the same sort of dilemmas as Delhi’s new chief minister. But precisely because he did not.
Mr Mujica, a famously austere leader, lives in his own one-room house with his wife of eight years, has just two plainclothes officers for security, flies economy class, declares a net worth of a few thousand dollars and gives 90 per cent of his salary away to good works. As The New York Times’s Simon Romero reported at the start of 2013 and The Guardian’s Jon Watts wrote at the end of the year, Mr Mujica is one of the world’s most humble leaders, shunning the opulence of the presidential mansion and following a “practiced asceticism” that is based on the principle that democracy can only function properly if elected leaders are taken down a notch.
It is inconceivable that Mr Mujica flip-flopped (like the Delhi chief minister) on the question of housing after his election to high office. For the Uruguayan president, there was never any question that he would stay on at the farm where he previously grew chrysanthemums.
Mr Kejriwal, in contrast, first said he wouldn’t take a grand residence; then appeared willing to move into a swish duplex two-flat complex and now says he won’t take it (because the people are advising him not to).
Why not just stay on where he is – in Kaushambi? And get on with the business of good governance? After all, Jose Mujica has shown the way.