The latest opinion polls predict a surprising debut for the broom brandishing Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Delhi has always been a prize to win only between the Congress and BJP, but for the first time Arvind Kejriwal seems to have given this age-old electoral contest a good jolt. For this itself, due credit must be given to the AAP but at the same time a lot of questions remain unanswered. What happens if they are elected? What does it promise to deliver which makes it truly an element of change?
The AAP was formed approximately a year ago with the best of intention, one must admit. It was continuously highlighted that there was an absolute necessity for change since the entire current system was faulty and needed to be disposed off and uprooted. The Aam Aadmi Party was fresh and new and was for, from and by the common man. The broom not only stood for letting the ‘aam aadmi’ relate to it, but also for the glorious promises of sweeping out all that is bad and rotten in Indian politics, irrespective of every obstacle they face. It promised a new kind of governance. In fact, last year in October during his party launch, Arvind Kejriwal went as far as to say that he will fix the major issues this country faces within 15 days of him coming to power.
But if one looks very carefully, all these promises are just as hollow as the next party’s.
Hollow promises and Unanswered Questions
Promises of their fortnight-clearance of all ills of the country sound dubious when one notices it took them two months to name their party after its launch. Their one resounding promise is of removing corruption and that’s about it. The only feeble proof we have of their ‘new style of politics’ is the way its representatives are elected. Agreed, it has a transparent process of selection of only squeaky clean members who won’t indulge in the symbolism that usually comes with being a politician; of lal battis and bungalows on Race Course. But is that it? There is more to a ‘style of politics’ than how a party is managed and what cars they drive in. What are their views on open defecation and what do they plan to do about it? What are their plans to provide clean drinking water? What are their views on Siachen, Kashmir, Pakistan, Iran and the US? How do they plan to handle the electricity generation of the country? Is anybody there? I guess we just have to be happy with the broom with a side of silence, please.
And even this slight change comes with its own share of dubiousness. Yogendra Yadav, a member of the AAP was sacked from his post of academician at the University Grants Commission (UGC) for having a ‘conflict of interest’ and giving him ‘scope for future politicization’ of academic decisions taken by the apex body. Agreed, the UPA government went out of its way to serve notice to him about his removal, but that does not hide the fact that Yogendra Yadav was at fault. When he became a part of the AAP, he should have quit the UGC. He says he offered his resignation but this happened and then that happened; the real change or new politics would be if he has vehemently insisted on stepping down from the UGC.
Public Display of Affection
A new style of politics means a visible and honest movement away from the usual class-caste-religion-community based politics which have become the historic truth as far as Indian polity is concerned. But AAP could not escape the lure of easy but divisive vote banks. At a public gathering with a substantial amount of Press, several prominent Muslim leaders and alumni of the Aligarh Muslim University were honored with a AAP cap reading ‘mein aam aadmi hoon’ on top of their skull-cap. Ironically enough, Kejriwal went on to explain how ‘Muslims need to brought to the main stream’ to ‘demolish vote bank politics of the established parties’. I fail to see this media-hogging stunt any different from Rahul Gandhi ‘breaking protocol’ and walking towards the Muslim families who witnessed the recent Muzzffarnagar riots; followed by bodyguards and blinding cameras of course. New politics would be less tokenism and more action; it would be if the Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Christian divide actually started fading out. Instead, it seems to strengthen with every press conference these parties hold on how they plan to unite us as a country.
Magnificent, Unrealistic Dreams
Lofty promises are nothing new to us, Indian citizens. We love to fall for every Utopian dream the parties show us only to settle for reality after elections. The Congress promised to tame inflation and the BJP is promising Guajarat-esque development for the entire nation. So why should the AAP remain behind? Its list of promises include an exclusive commando force for women in Delhi, giving a certain amount of water a day for free to every family and reducing electricity bills by half. But the best promise for me has been that the people will decide the price of all essential commodities such as gas, diesel etc. Seemingly ignorant to the concept of balance between demand and supply in a market; how do they plan to make that work? In an interview,Kejriwal, when asked for his opinion on inflation and RBI’s monetary policies was quoted as saying “Money supply kam kar di, zyaada kar di, kuch samajh mein nahin aata”. Now that’s what I’d like my winning party to say.
In reality, this country is far from seeing a new kind of politics. With illiteracy going deeper down into the grass-roots than these parties care to see, the majority of the country is easily swayed by favors and incentives to blindly vote for whoever makes their life comfortable even if temporarily. And the literate minority of the country seem to be projecting their altruistic desires for taking a step to better the country by ‘undoing’ everything that is wrong with the Indian polity and translating it into supporting this apparently different party whose only major achievement has been the nation-wide support it managed to gather during the India Against Corruption movement. Perhaps the Aam Aadmi Party sees that and in reality is doing nothing but passing off the same old tricks in the hat by new marketing gimmicks.
By: Pallavi Prasad