Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Arrogant Aadmi Party

Politics is transient in nature. What goes up in politics also comes down. The Congress party, has received a scathing defeat in 4 out of 5 states in the recently held assembly elections, one force which has emerged in these elections and is the current darling of the media is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)

There is no doubt that AAP germinated from the ‘Anna-Hazare Movement’ and most of its identity is based on the Lokpal Bill issue. Taking a cue from India’s political history, an interesting analogy can be built. In the 90’s the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) came up to forefront of Indian politics on a polarizing issue- The Ram Janmabhoomi Aandolan. It is safe to say that for the AAP, Lokpal Bill issue represents the same. 

Let us consider the reactions of Arvind Kejriwal to the current political discourse. AAP has won a good number of seats in the Delhi Elections- 28 of them; they have come second in atleast 20 constituencies. Certainly editorials are being written on them in newspapers, they are being featured in weeklies, and the star television anchors are going ga-ga over them on prime time. 

The celebratory mood in the party is slowly now turning into that of shear arrogance and hypocrisy. The Congress party has given them unconditional support of its 8 MLA’s in Delhi, the BJP also has approached them with issue based support, so that they can form a stable majority government in Delhi. Yet, AAP has written impolite letters to both the Congress and the BJP President’s providing a list of 18 issues, which they want to implement in Delhi. They extracted 10 days from the Lt. Governor of Delhi to work out a solution for government formation, but shamelessly released Radio ads which request people for a “Purna Bahumat” (Full Majority) 

The pertinent question  to ask is that, if one is being offered “unconditional support” to form a government, no new political outfit should deny the support, for the simple reason that, if that “unconditional support” is withdrawn by the Congress later, the people would again punish the Congress for instability. 

The next question to ask is that, if one is offered “unconditional support” then one cannot put forward conditions from own side. This is absurdity to the maximum levels. 

16 out of those 18 issues (as correctly prompted by Congress legislator Arvinder Singh Lovely) are issues to be implemented by the executive. If the AAP under Arvind Kejriwal, has any political understanding, they should know that executive decisions does not required any support from the Vidhan Sabha. They are decisions taken by the CM or the ministers, and does not even require consent of the ruling party MLA’s. 

Issues such as giving 700 litres of free water can simply be done by the Delhi Jal Board, which is headed by the Chief Minister of Delhi. Issues such as reducing tariffs of electricity can be done by the appropriate ministry. One does not require any kind of support from the legislature in building schools or hospitals of houses for the poor. These are all issues promised by the AAP in its manifesto. They owe it to the people to implement it. Why should the Congress (or any supporting party) who is supporting you from outside have any role in implementing your own manifesto? 

Arvind Kejriwal should also know that, once he gets the confidence of the house, the next no-confidence motion can only be brought in , after a period of 6 months, and if the Congress withdraws its support after 6 months, people will only punish the Congress. 

The mere fact that, AAP may get a chance to milk its success of the Vidhan Sabha elections in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and get MP seats in Delhi, is clearly reflected in the body language, facial expressions and the language of Mr. Kejriwal. 

AAP is simply running away from responsibility, and people have already started asking this on ground.

They will definitely reply back when they get a chance in the Delhi elections. 

The second important issue which depicts the arrogance of AAP is the whole Lokpal Bill issue. Anna Hazare, the symbol of the movement is now sitting on a fast in his village at Ralegan Siddhi. The UPA Government has already introduced the a new version (which accepted almost all recommendations of the Select Committee of the Parliament) in the Parliament. Most political parties, including the opposition have expressed their support for the present version. 

Mr. Kejriwal who has now become the epitome of struggle and sacrifice could not take a flight to go and meet a fasting Anna Hazare. The reason given was- viral fever.  It may be rather crude to put it, but a 76 year old Hazare is fasting in this age since 5 days and a 45 year old Kejriwal cannot visit him, using fever as an alibi tells a lot. Perception in public life matters. The entire attitude of “Team Kejriwal” changed since the day he was thrown out of “Team Anna” and formed his own party. 

Earlier also, on several occasions Anna has publically rebuked Arvind Kejriwal by forbidding him from using his name in AAP’s campaign and manifesto. Infact AAP had to spend extra lakhs on the “JanLokpal” hoardings which said that “AAP will pass Anna Hazare’s JanLokpal, if they come to power”. 

The present version of Lokpal has been accepted by Dr. Kiran Bedi- Congress government’s bitter critic. She promptly suggested that, Arvind Kejriwal has not read this version of the bill, and he wants to keep this issue alive for his own political survival. It seems that this is slowly becoming true.

Arrogant Kejriwal wants to sustain this issue in public memory to politically milk this, if a repoll takes place in Delhi or to spread his political outfit in other parts of the country. This is also his political compulsion- since AAP doesn’t has a defined ideology, a stand on economy or foreign affairs and is solely banking on corruption. 

Much as people dislike Anna Hazare for his ‘pseudo-Gandhian’ style and approach, he is the only person in this entire movement who has kept the debate civil. He has written letters to the Prime Minister, Congress President and other leaders with great civility. Kejriwal- his team which has people like Manish Sisodia, Kumar Vishwas, Shazia Ilmi etc have been impolite and abusively dismissive of the political class. During the Delhi campaign, a star member of the AAP had publically used cuss words against the Home Minister and Shazia Ilmi stood laughing along his side, later the MTV host had to apologize. 

The dismissive attitude of Arvind Kejriwal was showcased, when a lawyer like Prashant Bhushan couldn’t successfully punch holes in the Government’s version of the Bill supported by Hazare.

Kiran Bedi who was such a strong advocate of making the CBI independent and autonomous has accepted the provisions of the Bill. Why this hypocrite attitude by Mr. Kejriwal?

In all this, Congress Vice President has come as breadth of fresh air. He in a Press Conference strongly advocated the need of all political parties to pass a Lokpal Bill in National Interest. Accepting that, political parties may have some differences on the Bill, but it is almost reached its culmination- The finishing line, he said “We need this Lokpal Bill, This Bill will help India. We have been trying this since long to build consensus”

He is right. We should shed arrogance and pass the Lokpal Bill.

Is Arrogant Mr. Kejriwal listening?