By Shobhit Agarwal:
November 26, 2012 marks an important date in the political discourse of our country. In a lot of ways, after sustained decadence and years of turmoil, the political class finally realized the winds of change and woke up to this elephant called the ‘Aam Aadmi Party.’ Framed and formulated with the intention of addressing the single largest issue facing the common man — corruption, the party was launched with great exuberance and jubilation and promised to ‘sweep’ away every malefic practice that has crippled the political system since long. It laid the foundation for an interesting political season which started with the Delhi assembly elections and will conclude with the 2014 general elections.
Ideally, I would have loved to put in the phrase ‘And the country was not the same anymore,’ somewhere within AAP’s introduction. And I would have done the same had I written this article in the end of 2013, when the whole country was gripped with the AAP fever. But alas, what appeared to be a historic march towards change is slowly turning out to be a Shakespearean tragedy — one which is rosy and benevolent in the beginning, but ultimately kills its lead protagonists in the end.
Being an active observer and commentator on the political happenings in the country, I was expected to share my views about AAP ever since it began making headlines, particularly after its impressive show in the Delhi assembly elections. I had every intention of writing about the same, but somehow I managed to delay finishing the article. It was titled ‘AAP — Why its success is critical to India’s future!’
Through the article, I was trying to bring out the fact that AAP gave hope to an everyday common man that he too could participate in the country building process and bring about transformation at a time when problems plagued him by the dozens. AAP showed that one could hold a position of significance strictly on the strength of one’s work without having to practice the art of appeasing to usurp power or being born with a particular surname. I wanted to bring out how AAP had all the political parties on its toes, waiting in anticipation for its next move, because if AAP were to become successful as a concept in Delhi, it would for sure usher in a new wave of governance across the country and would question the very existence of the seasoned political parties. The so called veterans could no longer hide behind their ‘it is easy to do commentary from outside the system, it is a different world within it’ line to justify their glaring incompetency.
And just when I thought I would finish the article, I got the news that the Arvind Kejriwal government had folded after 49 days in power. Although I must mention that by that time, AAP had lost quite a bit of its sheen, thanks to its politics of dharna, open endorsement of anarchy, infighting among members and its law minister’s unresisting need of wanting to spit on opposition leaders’ faces. Everyone felt that AAP was losing the plot and the transformation that needed to be made from being in opposition to running the government was found severely wanting in AAP’s case. The goodwill and the brand value that AAP had created, particularly among the young and the educated masses had taken a hit.
AAP had been on some kind of self-destructing spree ever since it came to power on December 28, 2013. It seemed that the decision makers were trying to catch a last minute train, in the process, hell-bent on implementing any and every policy at the earliest, without thinking through its repercussions and impact. Delhi presented AAP with the wonderful opportunity of demonstrating to the political class as to how governments should be run in the country. But it wasn’t to be and in the end, the political system came through with the final laugh. Moreover, making the hasty decision to fight for the general elections in 2014 might just do further damage to AAP, and in the worse-case scenario, might be the final nail in the coffin.
Our future would have been in better shape had AAP not planned on setting its foot in the parliament in 2014 itself. Imagine this — AAP running a solid and efficient government in Delhi for 5 long years, undoing all the damage which 15 years of Shiela Dixit government had befallen on the national capital, setting forth a benchmark for other state governments to follow and then building up its base and organization across the country to contest for the 2019 national elections! The 2019 elections would have then made it clear which way the country needs to head as by then three facts would have become crystal clear —
Is Narendra Modi just about his PR machinery or he actually has some teeth?
Does Rahul Gandhi have any kind of political acumen to turn around the negativity associated with Congress?
Does AAP, the common man’s party, have it in them to make a case for strong governance?
But whatever it was — an impulsive, brash move or a well thought out strategy, AAPs decision to contest for more than 300 seats in the 545 member Lok Sabha is severely highlighting the structural incompetency of the party and if it continues, soon the common perception won’t stop from putting it in the same bracket as the other national parties.
The most famous start-up by an IITian seems to be floundering and not all appears rosy for it at the moment. But given its roots and origin, all we, the common men and women, can hope for is that this start-up doesn’t shut its shop anytime soon, as that would mean a wait of another 70 years to see a revolution like AAP happening in the political ecosphere.