The spectacular success of the Aam Aadmi Party in the recent elections in Delhi has, unfortunately, delivered a fractured mandate bringing both the BJP and AAP tantalizingly close to the finishing line, but both have been tripped before they could breast the tape. I was one of those few who had correctly assessed the anger and mood of the people, although I did not believe that the party would win 47 seats as Arvind Kejriwal had once predicted. AK-47 would indeed have been a deadly result. Arvind Kejriwal had done his calculations well, and at one stage his prediction looked likely to come true.
The BJP, suddenly waking up from its slumber, changed their horses midway by nominating Dr. Harsh Vardhan as the CM candidate, and that seems to have rejuvenated the party’s cadre and helped the BJP in winning at least 10 extra seats. Those like Sheila Dikshit who had famously quipped that AAP was not even on their radar were left biting the dust and cartoonists from across the country were having a field day at her expense. Perhaps the radars that Sheilaji had installed were obtained by the same MOD officials who are now being investigated for the Agusta-Westland VIP helicopter deal.
Where the AAP Succeeded
I was one of those disappointed that AAP did not get a simple majority and would not be able to form the government in Delhi. From the time AAP was formed, I have been supporting the party as a beacon of hope; a party that would usher in a new era of clean and selfless politics in the country. But I was not disheartened by the results. The experiment has cleared a number of myths that have been masquerading as truth. Some of these myths are:
- That you cannot win an election without bags of money.
- That votes can always be purchased with liquor and bribery.
- That the middle class is too lazy and does not like to stand in long queues.
- That the rich will always support corrupt politicians.
- That the poor can be bought through the promise of doles.
- That religion, caste, sect, etc., will determine who an individual votes for.
- That the media has its ear to the ground and can influence voter behavior.
The Parties Post-Elections
The 2013 elections will become a watershed in the history of the Republic, and will demand a paradigm shift in the thinking of political parties. An immediate result was the BJP’s reluctance to stake a claim to form the government even though it needed only four more MLAs to get a majority in the house. Any other time it would have been a cakewalk and not many eyebrows would have been raised. But Dr. Harsh Vardhan was absolutely clear when he said that he would not be indulging in any horse trading and would not be poaching candidates from the Congress or AAP. Rarely have I heard such unambiguous statements from a politician. There was no humming and hawing from him. The leaders of the AAP were also clear in saying that since they did not have the numbers they would not be staking their claims. The Congress, of course, is in no position to do anything except create mischief, something it is quite adept at. True to character, it sought to set the cat among the pigeons by offering “unconditional support” to AAP without actually defining the “unconditionality.”
Where the AAP is failing
However, in all this I-am-holier-than-thou tug-of-war, everybody seems to have forgotten the aam aadmi of Delhi, who has been crushed by decades of neglect and the game of passing-the-buck by both the central and the state governments. For the first time AAP had given him a voice in the running of his life, only to discover, to his chagrin, that the electoral dice did not roll in his favour. How does he view the attitudes of both AAP and the BJP?
The BJP has rightly refrained from staying away from temptation by admitting that it doesn’t have the numbers, and is happy to sit in the opposition and let AAP form the government. It has offered its support and has not specified any particular demands. This is where, I believe, AAP has faltered for the first time. I have heard Arvind Kejriwal make snide remarks asking why the BJP and Congress together do not form the government, since they are both very similar in character. Then, he also said that it should be easy for the BJP to purchase four MLAs, insinuating that the Congress MLAs would be available for the right price. It goes without saying that the AAP MLA’s, of course, are handpicked and above all temptation. After all that, he sends letters to the Presidents of the Congress and the BJP outlining eighteen demands and wanting their support for them all before he would deign to become the CM of Delhi. No debate, no questions asked. Either you are with us or against. There is no middle ground. This is the classical Stalinist Marxist-Leninist argument. Perhaps the analogy is not wholly applicable, (and I hope I am wrong) but I find AK’s approach to this fractured mandate most unsettling and self-defeating.
The People are Forgotten…again
The people of Delhi want governance, not an absence of it. By shying away from forming a government and by not offering conditional support to the BJP, Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party are betraying the hopes of the millions who voted for a decisive change in the way they were being governed. By staying away from either forming the government or supporting a BJP government without actually joining it, the Aam Aadmi Party has handed the advantage to the BJP in the re-elections that seem inevitable in the next six months. The analyses of the polls have shown that many voters who voted for AAP would also vote for Modi. In the next elections there is no guarantee that they will put their stamp of approval on the jhadoo. More likely, they will go with the kamal.
As a member of the Aam Aadmi Party, I thought I should voice my apprehensions to the leaders in Delhi, and so I sent an email to the party. I do not expect a reply, but I do hope that someone responsible reads it and brings it to the notice of Arvind Kejriwal. AK28 would do much better shooting from the hip than from the lip. As the Gita tells us, there is no sin in action; inaction is the greater sin!
By Vijaya Dar