By Anusha Sundar:
In the city of Delhi on a cold December morning, one man rose with a ‘jhadu’ in one hand and a Jan Lokpal Bill in the other. Within a few months to come, he captured the eyes and the attention of 25 million Delhiites. The Congress and the BJP were silenced, the common man was awestruck and the country watched. Our media tagged this extraordinary zeal that Mr. Kejriwal and his team produced as the ‘AAP effect.’ Routing the decadent Dikshit administration after 15 long years, the Aam Admi Party formed a minority government at New Delhi after emerging as the second largest party. The AAP had confirmed the power of an empowered citizen’s vote and established the might of a Democracy. They had a golden opportunity and they threw it away. Now with calls for re-elections in the national capital, the AAP hopes to regain its lost foot. However, a closer look at the politics of AAP seems to point towards their exit. Here are a few reasons why the AAP might have to close its chapters:
While AAP’s rallies and fasts might have touched the common man in all of us, its abundant overload is not only irksome but also revealing of a very stubborn and silly mentality. Fasts and protests are a very powerful medium to express one’s dissent with the government and several examples from History stand testimony to this fact. However, its thoughtless exploitation is only suggestive of AAP’s failure to understand this influential instrument. Kejriwal must know, after his few hundredth fasts that the Government is not a tired parent handing over sweets to a howling baby. One would at least assume that after having become the Chief Minister, Kejriwal would prefer discussions and dialogue over dictates and demonstrations. We are growing tired of dharnas, Mr. Kejriwal. Are you not?
The Debacle of 49 days
After having been hailed as a change long needed for the Indian political system, Kejriwal quit the Chief Minister’s office in just 49 days in a spectacularly foolish move. His reason – the Jan Lokpal wasn’t supported by the other parties. Not only was Kejriwal’s resignation a reckless move, considering the hopes Delhi had pinned on him, but also revealing of his one track mind. Sometimes, pet projects don’t come along but that doesn’t mean we stop dead in our tracts.
Fortunately, the AAP did not prove to be a total waste of votes. Within their brief stint as the ruling government, the AAP managed to broadly cover important sectors such as water, electricity and education. Although they seemed to have got the priorities straight, the AAP government was directionless to develop efficiently on these priorities. Promising 20Kl of free water to all Delhi residents for three months was slightly problematic considering most homes do not even have pipeline connection. Transporting water via tankers would only add to the whopping cost already incurred by the government. Similarly, by defying security and entering public places only causes chaos and mayhem. Although it is admirable that they were efforts at demoting VIP culture, Kejriwal must be realistic enough to understand that changes of this magnitude cannot happen overnight.
While the AAP simplified the VAT structure, provided night shelters for the homeless, slashed the electricity rates for users with low consumption in half and launched an anti-corruption helpline, much of what they proposed such as procuring 100 new ambulances, fund allocations for school infrastructure and many others remained merely on paper. Had they been smarter, they would have stuck around to see their policies implemented. Kejriwal on the other hand, struck out at the sight of the first hurdle instead of persuading his opponents to fall in line.
After the party performed poorly in the Lok Sabha 2014 elections, all hell broke loose. The party’s top brass Shazia Ilmi and Captain Gopinath resigned after slamming Kejriwal and accused the AAP of having no internal democracy. Ilmi stated that the AAP had been reduced to a ‘crony clique’’ which takes ‘impulsive decisions.’ Yogendra Yadav, an academic and key strategist for the AAP, warned the party of ‘falling prey to personality cults.’ Not only have the statements of these senior party members affected the public image of Kejriwal and his administration but also seriously questions the ideals of the party itself. Why would Delhi vote for a divided, dysfunctional house?
What exactly does Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party offer to the people of Delhi? Although the singularly strong anti-corruption stand brought them to the corridors of power, it is hardly expected to do the same this time. The Aam Admi Party has lost its relevance and needs to rethink and reinvent itself according to the needs of the people. The AAP must also remember that it is not a rallying crowd but a political party that must have solutions to the holes they find in the system. The party must also wisely learn from its brief period in power and chose deliberations over demands.
With this disastrous debut, an apology from Kejriwal to the Delhi public is highly unlikely to do the trick. The AAP needs to focus on a substantial agenda that addresses the necessities of the people, learn how to respond to the media like professionals and incorporate their experience as a ruling government to ensure an efficient implementation process. It seems like a long bumpy road ahead for the party and with the BJP at the national and municipal levels, their prospects don’t seem bright.