This article is dedicated to all the people, who were enthralled by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and taken in by its discourse and precedented success. These people are now disillusioned because AAP has started becoming a real political party. Firstly, in your support of the AAP, you got carried away too easily by an emotional exuberance and latent rage against the system that you impotently harbored for so long.
It showed you a glimmer of hope, very adroitly exploited your emotions and overwhelmed you with its rhetoric. It was your fault to form such high expectations from a few people to change the system. No system was ever changed from above and Arvind Kejriwal is certainly no exception to that rule. Even if all his talk is about inclusion of people and increased democratization with a decrease in corruption, he cannot do it without a profound change in the ethos of the people which cannot be achieved this quickly or easily.
It is because you formed irrational hopes from a political party which is ultimately not free from the logic of such entities. Now you are disappointed on seeing the AAP actually becoming more of a political party instead of a rogue movement. Temper your desires and give it time. Rome was not built in a day and India’s problems, which are way more systemic in nature than merely the result of the capricious will of a few politicians. These problems are not going to be solved without traveling a long and arduous path of perseverance in the face of entrenched opposition and persistent setbacks. To be already disillusioned by the AAP just shows impatience and fickleness of character.
Secondly, the AAP is only now beginning to be a political party. Before this, it was merely a movement of dissent. To expect it to completely change the essential nature of political parties is great folly. To expect it to not have immense troubles in this transition is naïve. Gandhi realized the problems that a movement has to go through when it becomes a political party in the establishment. He warned his fellow congressmen of the opportunists that will join the congress if it successfully fights the elections in 1936.
The congress at that time had similar problems with a dilution of its ethos and dissent from opportunists who thought they had received lesser power than they deserved. The congress dealt with the problem by abandoning the political process in a couple of years and becoming a national movement again but it was helped in doing this by the circumstances of the time.
AAP might not be so lucky, it might not get to just be a political movement, because the legitimacy of the Indian democratic state is much higher than that of the British colonial state and so legitimate change has to be effected from inside. It has to cement itself as a viable political alternative, there is not going to be a world war or an inordinate increase in exploitation by the existing power holders to enable it to be effect a revolution from outside. This is why this test is so much the more important for AAP and its supporters.
The first moments of real trouble are the moments when the AAP will mature as a political party. No political party can escape from the logic of power and democracy that they operate in. How the AAP deals with the dissent from within and disillusionment from without will show us its potential to effect real change and will also set its tone and mode of solving political problems in the future.
This time will also separate the real supporters of the cause espoused by AAP from the mere opportunists who saw it as a vehicle to gain power. So if you are being disillusioned now, you do not have what it takes to effect political change. By the very nature of institutional inertia and path dependence, change is very difficult to affect and it is a very long process.
A profound change in the way of thinking and doing business is required and this is resisted tooth and nail by the status quo. So check your disillusion and try to be more supportive of what is essentially a change for the better. It is hard, but then the truism holds that nothing good is ever achieved without difficulty.
By Akshat Jain
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