Tuesday, March 2, 2021
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

Dr B R Ambedkar’s grandson claims PM Modi took vaccination from Christian nurse as he does not ‘believe in Hindu nurses’

Prime Minister Modi on Monday took the first dose of coronavirus vaccine in Delhi's AIIMS. He was administered the dose of made-in-India Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN.

Rahul Gandhi has made his choice: He prefers street power to political power

Congress, the Left and ISF have now formed a 'secular' alliance to fight the Bengal polls and are in the process of finalising their seat-sharing formula

A woman molested, a father murdered, a Samajwadi Party leader accused: Here is all you need to know about the Hathras case

"Aatankwadi hain woh", Hathras victim Pooja exclaimed, expressing her angst against the SP leader for killing her father

Ajay Maken becomes one of the first party leaders to take COVID-19 jab even as Congress maintains silence over vaccination drive

Congress leader Ajay Maken, along with his wife, mother and mother-in-law took the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine this morning at Guru Gobind Singh Hospital in Delhi

FIR against Aam Aadmi Party MLA Abdul Rehman for molestation, assault, was earlier booked for anti-CAA violence

Abdul Rehman, who is a legislator from the Seelampur constituency, claimed that the allegations against him are 'false' and 'baseless'.

Dissenting Congress leaders plan to hold another event in Haryana, question party’s election strategy in West Bengal

Hitting out at the Congress, G-23 leader Anand Sharma questioned the decision of the party to forge an alliance with radical cleric Abbas Siddiqui's Indian Secular Front (ISF).

Recently Popular

‘Inserted her hand claiming she was planting a tree’: LGBT activist Divya Dureja accused of sexual assault under pretext of shamanic ritual

A popular LGBT activist Divya Dureja has been accused of sexual assault by Elodie Gendron under pretext of a Shamanic ritual.

The Hindu ‘journalist’ Suhasini Haidar puts out misinformation about ISRO satellite launch: Read details

Suhasini Haidar, National Editor of 'The Hindu', put out false information on social media in attempt to mislead the public.

Gujarat: Ahmedabad woman Ayesha commits suicide by jumping into Sabarmati River, last video message goes viral

A video has gone viral on social media where Ayesha, a young woman, can be heard announcing her decision to commit suicide.

US President Joe Biden casually drops the N-word during Munich Security Conference, accused of racism on social media

The N-word is considered as one of the hateful words that were first uttered in the 17th century. Its origin can be traced back to the Spanish word 'negro', which is often used by white supremacists to deliberately offend the African-American community.

Rashmi Samant, president-elect of Oxford Student Union resigns after online attacks over her Hindu roots and old social media posts

An Oxford University staff member dragged Rashmi's parents in the controversy, using their display picture which had Lord Ram's photo.

Australian media slam Justin Trudeau for abstaining vote against China, calls his government the most pathetic in the history of the Five Eyes

Sky News Australia host called Justin Trudeau government the most pathetic in the history of Five Eyes nations
- Advertisement -

 

Connect with us

253,147FansLike
521,262FollowersFollow
23,800SubscribersSubscribe