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The mirage that is the Aam Aadmi Party

By Aditya Shah and Aadit Kapadia
December 03, 2013 18:19 IST
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Arvind KejriwalAAP has been vociferous since its inception and has mainly raised issues pertaining to corruption. A political party must have crisp and specific standon all issues which concern the nation not just corruption or secularism; and AAP has failed to deliver on all these counts, says Aditya Shah and Aadit Kapadia.

April 2011-- It had been a week since India had won the cricket world cup. The country was still in the euphoria of the win; after all it had been 28 years since India had seen such a day.

But no one could have foreseen the events that started a week later and culminated into a majestic mass movement that would capture the eyes of the country. A 70 year old ex-armyman-turned-social worker (Anna Hazare) was making a fervent appeal through mainstream and social media about a rally at the Ramlila maidan in Delhi regarding a bill that only a few people had heard before -- the ‘Jan Lokpal Bill’. This bill, if passed, would facilitate the appointment of an ombudsman who would effectively be a watchdog over government’s policies and through the provisions in the bill could take action against the guilty through speedy trials.

A strong feeling of anti-incumbency and displeasure had developed against the incumbent government in India in the preceding years. The government was reeling under multiple scams and public anger was on an all time high.

Then came the Jan Lokpal movement led by Anna Hazare whose team comprised of Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and many others. This movement had captured the people’s attention in just under a year and out came angry Indians on the street desperately looking for a credible voice to speak out against corruption. The movement became symbolic in the people’s fight against an oppressor who was indifferent to its own. The government was forced to invite them to the negotiation table to discuss the bill. But just as things were starting to go in the right direction, it all went wrong. Horribly wrong.

The movement fizzled out due to its unconstitutional and impractical way of functioning; Kejriwal who had already gained some mileage due to Anna’s movement decided to take personal advantage and form a political party (which he was staunchly against since the very beginning). The whole movement was against politicians of all colors and they had at one point termed politics as murky and an area they would never ever step into.

But alas, they feel headlong into the same murk they were criticising sitting on a pedestal. Some of the prominent supporters of the movement (before it turned political) notably including Kiran Bedi and others left the movement. The final nail in the coffin was Hazare himself deserting Kejriwal and sticking to his principle of being an apolitical anti-corruption movement.

Thus in November 2012, a new and ambitious party came into being under the steerage of Kejriwal and many left leaning intellectuals. ‘Aam Aadmi Party’ also decided to contest the elections in 2013 at a state level. Riding the public wave and then forming a political party was a smart thing to do; the hidden politician in Kejriwal finally did overpower him.

Since their inception; AAP seems to have mastered the art of hit and run accusations; at making unsubstantiated comments against established political players and then letting media play the judge and jury even before any legal proceedings was contemplated by either party.

If they really had any evidence against an individual or an entity; the ideal thing to do would be to file a case in the court just as Dr Subramanian Swamy does all the time. Dr Swamy has been very successful in doing so and has proven time and again that corruption can be dealt with the help of current laws and by staying well within the limits of the Constitution.

AAP has also begun playing secular politics; another dangerous and stealthy way of dividing the nation along religious lines. Questioning the Batla House encounter is one such sordid example.  Delhi police inspector Mohan Chand Sharma was killed in an operation against terrorists and questioning the entire operation is a grave insult to his sacrifice. The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (both known for devious secularism) had already demanded a judicial inquiry for this incident; but AAP went one step ahead and filed a Public Interest Litigation.  

This was done by Prashant Bhushan whose views on plebiscite in Kashmir are very well known. Bhushan, a senior Supreme Court lawyer, has also been criticised for questioning the Supreme Court judgment on Sardar Sarovar Dam alongwith well known leftists such as Medha Patkar and Arundhati Roy. Manish Sisodia from AAP is known for his links to leftist groups inside India.

Meeting Maulanas whose communal views are well known isn’t helping their cause either. Maulana Tauqeer is well known for issuing fatwas; one of them being a reward to anyone who could behead the Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen. If the AAP was truly secular it would be equidistant to religious figureheads from all religions or would be equally rubbing shoulders with all of them. It does neither and therein lays a diabolical and sinister thought process.

And finally, one of their most sensible voices Yogendra Yadav was a member of the National Advisory Council in 2010 of which Sonia Gandhi is the chairman.

These facts and the past associations of the AAP members raise a lot of eyebrows. Such things cannot be ignored and must be taken into consideration by the Indian public before voting.

Kejrwal had also regularly claimed that while selecting candidates for Delhi state elections they had gone through a rigorous selection process including comprehensive background checks. In spite of these tall claims there are many candidates in the fray who have criminal cases registered against them. Recently a lot of questions were also raised on AAP due to a sting operation which showed some of its senior leaders in bad light. Currently, the Election Commission is scrutinising the tapes and results are awaited soon. 

In summary, apart from these issues; when it comes to issues that concern the nation, the AAP seems to have no views or opinions regarding national and international issues.

Issues pertaining to India’s foreign policy, the communal and targeted violence bill, economic policies, public health, relations with Pakistan and China etc. are of utmost importance. Yet AAP chooses to be silent or seems to have no idea what these issues are. All they seem to know is either hit and run accusations or simply claiming to be better than the rest of the electoral candidates.  

With the increase in infiltration from Pakistan, constant terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, China’s incursions, price rise, inflation and devaluation of Indian rupee; one expects a politician to have strong views and ideas to counter such pressing issues.

Recently in an interview with a news channel it was very evident that Kejriwal had no answer when the anchor asked questions related to burning national issues. He instead was keen to talk only about Delhi elections and candidate selection.

AAP has been vociferous since its inception and has mainly raised issues pertaining to corruption. A political party must have crisp and specific stand on all issues which concern the nation not just corruption or secularism; and AAP has failed to deliver on all these counts.

India at this stage cannot withstand one more political party as this weakens governance and our ability to firmly deal with pressing issues. Eventually, it is for the people of India to judge and decide whether to vote for AAP or not, but with these opportunistic stands and questionable conduct of the core committee members, I am not sure if they will be able to prevail and sustain in the long run.

AAP will run out of steam soon enough.

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