India is going through one of its periodic bouts of exuberance over prospects of better ties with Pakistan. Islamabad&rs..
DNA of Aam Aadmi party: Disruption, Nepotism & Anarchism?
Overwhelmed at the sheer diversity and apparent chaos of India, American economist and envoy John Kenneth Galbraith dubbed it “functionary anarchy”, a description that has evoked smiles over the decades. It has taken less than a month of the Aam Aadmi Party to turn the national capital into a dysfunctional anarchy. One can only shudder at the fate of the nation should the party’s karmic trajectory transport it to greater heights.
The AAP’s opening move of distorting its electoral promise about the water crisis was bad enough; the subsequent incidents of vigilantism and the brazen dharna at Rail Bhavan have caused disquiet in many quarters. By ridiculing and threatening to derail the Republic Day celebrations, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal failed to appreciate that he was no longer a disgruntled activist (recall his attempt to stage protests at the residences of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and then BJP president Nitin Gadkari in August 2012), but was holding a constitutional office. The universal values of justice and fraternity had already taken a battering with the racist attacks on Uganda nationals, on grounds that proved to be false, and shamed India before the African Union, besides making us the laughing stock of the world.
Little wonder that President Pranab Mukherjee (who as a Union Minister had disapproved of Anna Hazare’s fast over the Lokpal Bill) used his annual address to the nation to caution that, “For those in power democracy is a sacred trust. Those who violate this trust commit sacrilege against the nation”.
Agreeing that corruption is a “cancer that erodes democracy,” the President reprimanded, “Equally dangerous is the rise of hypocrisy in public life. Elections do not give any person the licence to flirt with illusions. Those who seek the trust of voters must promise only what is possible. Government is not a charity shop. Populist anarchy cannot be a substitute for governance. False promises lead to disillusionment, which gives birth to rage, and that rage has one legitimate target: those in power”. Explicitly debunking the AAP’s governance model, the President added that aspirational young Indians would not forgive betrayal.
Stripping the AAP’s aura as a pro-poor party of well-meaning do-gooders, President Mukherjee in a brief but politically loaded speech cautioned against forces that might work towards a fractured mandate in the forthcoming parliamentary election, and leave the nation “hostage to whimsical opportunists”. Ever since the AAP exposed its national ambitions, many believed its real purpose was to win enough Lok Sabha seats to checkmate the ascent of Narendra Modi. The Presidential disapproval of such a perverse game-plan naturally sent shock waves along the political spectrum.
Although the Congress tried to minimize the significance of the address, the Rashtrapati Bhavan incumbent made clear his anxiety - “2014 is a precipice moment in our history” - that India might lapse into anarchy if she “does not get a stable government”; he emphasised the responsibility of each voter not to let the nation down. As the Republic Day speech reflects the President’s personal opinions rather than those of the Union Cabinet, observers read it as an indictment of the ruling coalition at the Centre and a yearning for single-party rule.
The President’s early warning is most timely. After projecting itself as a party of the articulate and aspirational middle classes, supported by slum dwellers desiring accessible and accountable leaders, the AAP quickly shed its benign mask on assuming office. Founder-member Prashant Bhushan called for a referendum on the Army presence in Jammu & Kashmir, an issue for which he was once bashed up in 2011.
Shaken by the backlash, Arvind Kejriwal quickly distanced the party from this opinion, but much damage was done. Pakistan’s Minister for Kashmir Affairs & Gilgit-Baltistan, Barjees Tahir, said India should heed the AAP and conduct a referendum in J&K. Prashant Bhushan, meanwhile, went on to demand a referendum on the deployment of security forces in Maoist-affected areas. Not surprisingly, Binayak Sen, found guilty of colluding with Maoists and sentenced to life imprisonment by a Raipur court in 2010, is a prominent member of the AAP.
Political scientist and psephologist Yogendra Yadav, possibly the party’s eminence grise, has a disturbing connection with Naxalite groups. Yadav was one of the main speakers at the Third Vinod Mishra Memorial meeting held in December 2002; Mishra, as is well-known, was general secretary of the CPI-ML and the brain behind the ‘red terror’ on West Bengal campuses during the 1970s.
As the Ford Foundation (Is India safe... What is Ford Foundation?) has awarded some of the leading lights of the Lokpal movement, part of which morphed into the AAP, discerning observers feel the party is being used to engineer a coloured revolution in India, at par with western attempts to destabilise sovereign independent countries, of which Ukraine is a notable current example. This would explain the migration of prominent anti-native, pro-western elites to the AAP.
This is the crux of the matter. Arvind Kejriwal, the AAP, and their band of fellow travellers are simply an amalgam of all the variants of the old Left who are viscerally opposed to native ideas and institutions. Schooled in the old colonial ideas by successor trainers in India and/or the west, they are generously funded by the neo-colonialists through awards and grants to their NGOs. The AAP is best understood as a primal asuric force drawing together all anti-national forces to stymie the rise of a home-grown leader like Narendra Modi.
Nevertheless, there is no need to exaggerate its appeal. India’s civilisational ethos shuns mindless violence, which is why contrived violent revolutions cannot succeed here. The AAP attracted a Delhi electorate opposed to a corruption-ridden Congress and largely somnolent local BJP, which nevertheless emerged as front ranker due to the charisma of Narendra Modi. The AAP made an impressive debut with 29 per cent of the vote, but this cannot translate into seats that can checkmate the BJP at all-India level unless it makes seat sharing arrangements with other parties, particularly the Congress. Once this happens, the AAP will lose its shine as the party of anti-corruption crusaders.
The AAP’s governance record has already triggered anger among MLAs who hoped to govern Delhi and oppose the plan to use the city as a springboard to catapult to the national stage for an altogether different agenda. Faster than anyone could imagine, the bells are already tolling for the Aam Aadmi Party…
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