Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Home Opinions Aam Aadmi Party and the demise of hope

Aam Aadmi Party and the demise of hope

Aam Aadmi Party was born of hope. The Lokpal movement of 2011, led by Anna Hazare, was a watershed event in India’s recent history. A diminutive mild mannered 70 something former soldier and social worker, Anna caught the nation’s imagination and inspired following like only Mahatma Gandhi had before him.

It was half-way into the second tenure of UPA government, and each new day brought with it news of another scam, each bigger than the last. Amounting to digits so big that an ordinary citizen had trouble figuring out the number of zeroes in it. Things came to such a ridiculous level that one union minister while refuting allegations of corruption against another argued that the amount involved (71 Lakhs) was too small for a minister.

To add to people’s despair, there didn’t seem to be any viable alternative in sight. Leadership of the principle opposition party BJP was ageing and ineffectual, apparently incapable of providing strongly taking on the government even when issues were handed to it on a platter every day.

So when Anna began a fast undo death in Delhi against the rampant corruption, people came out and joined him in thousands in a groundswell of active support. These were ordinary people – office goers, teachers, lawyers, students. People who had probably never actively participated in politics beyond casting their votes, if even that.

India Against corruption
Team Anna – genesis of hope

When Arvind Kejriwal, who was seen as one of the primary lieutenants of Anna, announced the formation of a political party for the Aam Aadmi, or the common man, he got instantaneous support of Anna’s huge follower base. This, even though Anna himself was not in favour of formation of a political party, preferring to keep his movement away from electoral politics. Maybe this was because he had the wisdom to foresee what would eventually happen.

Aam Aadmi party emerged as a symbol of hope amidst the depths of despair. The ideals and principles that Kejriwal lay down for the party seemed to be just what the country needed. He promised politics with a difference – away from the trappings that the people have come to associate with it. He promised clean, transparent governance delivered by ordinary people who wanted to make a difference.

So when AAP decided to contest Delhi assembly elections, people across the country, imaginations fired by a vision of change, came forward to offer support, resources, money and even their time towards furthering the cause. This phenomenon led to victory in the polls. Numbers didn’t allow AAP to form a stable government, and despite several U-turns by Kejriwal, the people of Delhi returned them with a mind boggling majority in the consequent re-elections.

Crowd at Jantar Mantar during Anna Days
The common man – the aam aadmi – was optimistic

But almost two years down the line, there is an overwhelming sense of disappointment amongst the people who had believed in the vision shown to them by Kejriwal. Although it’s still early days to conclusively evaluate the government on results, the sense people are getting are that the government has been delivering excuses instead of performance, passing on the blame to interference from the central government.

What’s worse is that the promised ‘politics with a difference’ is not visible. Party leaders have been quick in adopting the trappings of power despite prior promises of remaining as ‘Aam Aadmi’. High personal expenses (as per an RTI reply, the expenditure by the six cabinet ministers on tea and snacks has been Rs 1 Crore in 18 months, with Rs 47.29 Crores being spent at the CM’s office and residence alone), nepotism and frequent foreign jaunts.

What is even more disappointing is the way the party and government resources are being used to build the personality cult of Kejriwal himself. Till a crackdown by the courts, the Delhi government was regularly placing advertisements in regional newspapers across the country, particularly in states where the party is in the fray for the upcoming assembly elections. The arbitrary announcement of a monetary grant of Rs 1 Crore to the kin of Subedar Garewal who committed suicide recently in protest against OROP, despite the fact that he wasn’t even a resident of Delhi, is another example of the ‘outward’ focus of the Delhi government.

What shocked people even more was the vehemence with which Kejriwal has opposed the demonetisation move by the government. Since he has come to power on the primary plank of anti-corruption and clean politics, he and his party should have been the first to welcome some definitive action on this for the first time. However his opposition to it raises suspicion whether it has affected the party’s plans in the forthcoming elections in Punjab. Another reason for his pique could be the huge political advantage that BJP and the PM personally has got from this resolute action.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that all the actions and resources of the party and the Delhi government seem to be geared towards fulfilling the Prime Ministerial ambitions of Kejriwal. While ambition in itself isn’t bad, but the manner in which the hopes of millions of voters who elected him as CM are being trodden upon for its sake is. If the people of Punjab and Goa cast their votes for AAP, they must be clear that they’re doing so to just another political party, and the only difference it has to offer is the lack of administrative experience and acumen that the Delhi experience has shown. However, if the inputs from the ground in Punjab are to be believed, AAP has lost the edge it had over the other two parties/coalitions it had just a few months ago.

It would be a pity if this hope dies a premature death with the AAP joining the ranks of other political parties instead of being the party with a difference it started out to be. And that is on its way towards happening, primarily because of Arvind Kejriwal and a handful of key members – while the party still has a large base of professionals and common people who still believe in that dream.

Ideally, there should be an internal cleansing in the party, with this second rung who still believe in the core ideology, purging the party of people like Arvind Kejriwal and keeping the hope alive.

Full Disclosure – the author was a founder member of AAP, having joined the party at its launch at Jantar Mantar on 26 Nov 2012. The photographs in this post are from that event. He parted ways from the party when Arvind Kejriwal resigned as Delhi CM and decided to fight parliamentary elections. This was first posted on my blog.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

rohitagarwalhttp://www.rohitagarwal.in
A former Army officer, now a Learning and Development consultant, Author of 'Delhi Durbar 1911 - The Complete Story', 'Riding the Raisina Tiger', 'Brave Men of War - Tales of Valour 1965', 'In the Line of Fire' and 'Academy - Bonded for Life'. He was also part of the panel  engaged by Ministry of Defence for writing official history of India's participation in First World War. Follow Rohit on Twitter @ragarwal

Related Articles

Trending now

Punjab’s new Agriculture Laws are hogwash meant to fool gullible farmers, violates the constitution: Read how

The Essential Commodities Act passed by the Punjab govt contravenes the constitution, adds opacity and infringes on the centre

How do Customs officials remove gold concealed in the rectum of smugglers? Things you never thought you’d want to know

Customs officials convince the smugglers to eject the gold from their rectum, or extract with the help of doctors

21 October 1943: Netaji Subhash had formed the Azad Hind Government, India’s ‘declaration of independence’

On October 21, 1943, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose announced the formation of the 'Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind' or the provincial government of free India in Singapore and had declared war on the British Empire.

No, going to Dubai to buy the new iPhone 12 Pro is not cheaper than buying in India. Here is how

Dhruv Rathee criticised the 'Indian Tax System' by claiming that travelling to Dubai for buying an iPhone 12 Pro is cheaper than getting it from India.

Is somebody paying the “experts” to spread spurious narratives on Atmanirbhar Bharat?

A more self-reliant India, with a bigger industrial base, with lesser trade deficits was the need of the hour. Who could object?

Rahul Gandhi to help PFI member and Kerala-based ‘journalist’ Siddique Kappan who is accused of attempting to instigate violence in UP

The Congress leader met a delegation at Malappuram, Kerala on Monday and promised them to look into the issue of the arrest of 'journalist' Siddique Kappan.

Recently Popular

UK: 37-year-old paedophile named Rehan Baig jailed for raping chickens to death while his wife filmed it

Rhan Baig's wife had also joined him in the videos and at one point he alternated between having sex with his wife and the chickens.

Anti-Trump legal analyst of CNN and The New Yorker contributor suspended after masturbating on Zoom call

Jeffrey Toobin has offered an apology for masturbating on the Zoom video call and said that he thought he had put the video and audio on mute.

During 26/11 Mumbai attack, Param Bir Singh refused to be on ground and take on terrorists, then Mumbai CP Hasan Gafoor had said

Hasan Gafoor, who was the Mumbai Commissioner of Police during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, had accused senior police officials, including Param Bir Singh of not taking on the terrorists.

‘Comedian’ Agrima Joshua, who calls herself ‘feminist’, passes offensive sexual comments against woman due to political differences

Agrima Joshua had earlier found herself in a controversy after insulting the Shivaji Maharaj memorial during a performance.

Hyderabad: Hindu woman confronts boyfriend Syed Mustafa over marriage promises, stabbed to death by him and his brother

24-year-old Hindu woman was brutally stabbed to death by her lover Syed Mustafa and his brother on Saturday night at Rein Bazar neighbourhood of Hyderabad

After Chinese phones blocking weather data for Arunachal and Ladakh, now Twitter shows Leh as part of China

Security analyst Nitin A Gokhale found that Twitter has labelled Leh in Ladakh as part of People's Republic of China (PRC)
- Advertisement -

Shahabuddin was a powerful ‘pawn’ under Lalu-led government in Bihar: Read how he dominated Siwan during the jungle raj

Shahabuddin was fearless because of the backing he got from Lalu Yadav, and in return, he made sure Lalu got votes in the elections

Maharashtra: Uddhav Thackeray government blocks CBI from investigating cases in the state, withdraws general consent

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday passed an order withdrawing its consent for the CBI to probe cases in the state

Punjab’s new Agriculture Laws are hogwash meant to fool gullible farmers, violates the constitution: Read how

The Essential Commodities Act passed by the Punjab govt contravenes the constitution, adds opacity and infringes on the centre

Paris: Two Muslim women stabbed under Eiffel Tower by white women shouting “dirty Arabs”

Two Muslim women were stabbed repeatedly under the Eiffel Tower on Sunday night by two white women who called them "dirty Arabs".

How do Customs officials remove gold concealed in the rectum of smugglers? Things you never thought you’d want to know

Customs officials convince the smugglers to eject the gold from their rectum, or extract with the help of doctors

Fake news peddler Prashant Kanojia granted bail by Allahabad High Court

Kanojia was also arrested last year for postin derogatory tweets aimed at spreading hatred.

Youth Congress chief spreads misinformation about Modi govt’s Bihar package, distorts statement of BJP chief JP Nadda

Youth Congress chief uses only a part of speech of JP Nadda to spread misinformation about Modi govt’s Bihar package

21 October 1943: Netaji Subhash had formed the Azad Hind Government, India’s ‘declaration of independence’

On October 21, 1943, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose announced the formation of the 'Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind' or the provincial government of free India in Singapore and had declared war on the British Empire.

China fines dairy company for ‘incorrect’ map of its territory in an advertisement, the company issues apology

China penalised Bright Dairy and Food for not showing 'complete and correct territory' of the country, which is a violation of laws

No, going to Dubai to buy the new iPhone 12 Pro is not cheaper than buying in India. Here is how

Dhruv Rathee criticised the 'Indian Tax System' by claiming that travelling to Dubai for buying an iPhone 12 Pro is cheaper than getting it from India.

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
465,592FollowersFollow
18,800SubscribersSubscribe