ByÂ Anshul Kumar Pandey:
Whether you belong to the right or the left side of the ideological spectrum, or find yourself stuck in the middle, you will all agree that Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti’s recent midnight vigilante raid in an affluent South Delhi neighbourhood branding all Africans as drug traffickers and prostitutes was outrageously, shamelessly and mind-numbingly racist. The irony of a Law Minister himself flouting the law was not lost and there is a fair sense of unanimity even among the supporters of the party that he should be sacked from his post. Coming on the heels of the Devyani Khobragade affair, the episode could have snowballed into a major diplomatic crisis had the Ministry of External Affairs not rushed to placate their UgandanÂ counterparts.
However, this single incident and the dharna that followed, has given all those cynical and dismissive of the potential of this party, a stick to beat it with. There have been many a sighs and many other ‘aha!’s in the television studios for the past couple of nights, trying to rub their “I told you so” expressions in the quintessential AAP supporter’s face. The barrage of negative media coverage that has dominated both the newspapers and the breaking news cycle is simply astounding for the single reason that in no other case of corruption or mal-governance have you seen so much of bleeding-heart concern for our oh-so-dear capital. For a media that rarely ventures out of the 10 KM radius of National Capital Territory, the theatrics of the AAP government provide ample fodder to boost their TRPs and point their accusing fingers to snobbishly teach lessons in Political Science to a naive Delhi populace which has elected these representatives to power. I am apprehensive while switching to a news channel or picking up a newspaper or a political magazine these days as every issue and programme is about the Aam Aadmi Party because obviously the farmers committing suicide in Vidarbha and BundelkhandÂ can wait and sitting through the whole experience makes me feel like an 8th standard kid being rapped on the knuckles by a teacher who never passed 5th.
Let me make myself clear. I am not a blind supporter of AAP. However, I am not an armchair cynic either. Kejriwal is not the ideal Chief Minister. However, he is also not the worst. I would any day prefer a Kejriwal over a Rabri Devi.
What those wringing their hands and shaking their heads in disgust need to understand is that the Aam Aadmi Party is not your everyday political party. It is described as a social movement against corruption and like every other social movement; it has inherited some serious flaws which it will have to correct if it has to stay relevant. The very fact that even within the party there are voices of disgust against the utterances of honourable Law minister provides ample proof of the fact that unlike any other political party today in the Indian political arena, this party allows its leaders to speak their mind. There is a cacophony of voices and a lot of digressing chatter out of which a consensual party policy emerges. For me, this is something new. But the irony is that we have been so used to hearing party spokespersons regurgitate the ‘high-command’ diktat on our television screens, that a total break from that manner not only escapes our comprehension, but in fact it bewilders us.
This radical way of approaching political questions has bewildered some of us to such an extent, that they now consider it as their solemn duty to trash the party for their every new demand. Consider the question of bringing the Delhi police under the state government. A lot of talking heads have expressed their alarm over the dharna staged outside the Home Minister’s office asking whether a ‘diplomatic solution‘ by legislative means could not have arrived at, over the issue. To those of you in agreement with this logic, let me rewind the clock to December 16, 2012. After heading the state government for 15 years, Chief Minister Sheila Dixit expressed dismay over the ‘Nirbhaya’ gang rape incidence, citing the lack of authority over the Delhi police as the main reason for the occurrence of such a tragic incidence despite repeatedly having asked the central government for the same. Remember that Mrs. Dixit belonged to the same party which was ruling in Delhi and at the centre. If despite, 15 years of nagging (as she claimed) a diplomatic solution could not be arrived at, how can one reasonably expect a minority AAP government in achieving the same? If one cannot trust the state government with the police force, then one should also stop holding them responsible for the crimes against women that occur in the capital. Let us also stop comparing them with other state governments which have the police force under their control.
These are the early heady days of the AAP government, and one should give them some amount of time in order to judge their performance in all fairness. Or as Bollywood would say, “Picture abhi baaki hai”.