Aam Aadmi goes to Party!

It might come as a jolt to prime time TV junkies who like their revolutions outsourced, but there are solid reasons why the newly constituted Aam Aadmi Party is destined to oblivion -and discover that electoral politics is no party!


As a fervent advocate of community action, I have witnessed with growing disappointment the dissolution of the potent anti-corruption campaign and its metamorphosis into a partisan, splinter group which barely resembles its original avatar and then, more tragicomically, its face saving catharsis into a political entity. As someone who took the same route into politics, and has no business criticizing them, I am dismayed by the dilettantism of its leaders and their abject mimicry of the precise kind of politics they set out to replace.

I speak from the benefit of experience, not conjecture, having been responsible for actualizing this theory in Gurgaon under similar conditions in 2004. Large swathes of the new middle class, resentful of what they had paid for and what they got, unified under a banner, formed a new political outfit, conducted primaries to select a candidate, fought an election and lost handsomely with the only solace that we ruled the tabloids and broadsheets while we were at it. What I have learnt could have been instructive to our young friends, but alas! the pleasure of reinventing the wheel… So, if they look a bit like Don Quixote, forgive them, for although they may have the wrong sort of apparatus to attack the problem, they do have the right intention. At least, that seems to be the refrain among a number of sensible people around who argue that the Aam Aadmi Party is the answer to India’s ills and an imminent threat to the established political order, particularly in Delhi where they intend to chance their luck.

There are solid grounds to dismiss the challenge that such initiatives pose, not least that these are not based on tangible concepts. Corruption is an issue but it can’t be the nucleus of any long term formation simply because it cannot be monopolized by any party or group. Even if we keep aside the right of all parties to claim corruption as a key ingredient in their vote catching strategy, the fact is that corruption is also not a permanent state of being. It is transitory, perceived as less and more at different times of history and politics and can actually reduce over time as transparency is injected into the system making the basis of association around this theme redundant. Those that argue that it could be the start of something meaningful as time progresses forget that time in politics is a harsh taskmaster and more often than not, such boutique parties do not survive the vagaries of time for a number of reasons organizational, electoral, pecuniary and out of the limitations of  human resolve and faith.

The bigger threat to AAP, however comes from within. Leaders of parties that coalesce around an individual have more often than not exhibited tendencies that border on the dictatorial, even megalomaniacal. Since such parties are designed around an undemocratic template in origin, they progressively fall prey to the insidious rot of the egomaniacal behavior of its leadership. More often than not, such individuals exhibit their weaknesses early in their careers and one way to evaluate this is to check on their behavioural antecedents.  You will find that they are anti-establishment and have an aptitude for breaking out of and tearing down organisations rather than building them. They are loners, not social aggregators and of a nihilistic orientation rather than of amenable nature. Their belief system is not synchronous with cooperation but derives its energy from rejection, disruption and disturbance – all wonderful attributes when you want to break a mould, none when you want to build anything.

For evidence one only needs visit the original team structure of the anti-corruption group IAC and draw a vector of its transformations. All you will come up with is a record of broken partnerships, misled and mistrustful allies; antipathy and animus; splinters and jabs; associates leaving mid way and leaders leaving for good. Worse, its leadership acquitted itself poorly when it continued to shift goal posts, change course mid-way, drop objectives and shift gears constantly, solving nothing but providing a chimera of actions that just emitted prime time smoke to stay in the news. Once out of the limelight they whimpered like children and blamed everyone and their uncle, forgetting that useful adage that all noise is sound, but all sound is not music.

It is a seminal contradiction of electoral activity that it is only when people are angry that such movements and initiatives crop up and yet this anger itself ensures that such initiatives fail the test of votes. This is because when people are angry they do not vote for, but against, a regime – and in that they vote for the best established player capable of unseating the incumbent. In Haryana, when people were angry with the Chautala regime, they conspired to vote them out overriding all caste combinations. Similarly, when UP had had enough of Mayawati, traditional caste and religious interests intersected to ensure that the best placed to unseat the BSP was voted in. Nothing new that I am suggesting, except the principle that voters are intelligent: they don’t waste their votes and that votes are cast to defeat and unseat rather than anoint and appoint in such circumstances.

Since the first part of the analogy holds – that the AAP is a flower of the anti-corruption movement and a result of the angst of the people at the serial scamming by the UPA, it stands to reason that an angry people will follow that other part of the equation too – they will vote, to vote out the Congress. Delhi is traditionally a bipartisan citadel. No third entity has survived to any reasonable degree. In that scheme, the AAP is a hindrance for the angry voter, a liability, not a panacea because it compromises the chances of voting out the Congress by splintering the vote. Logistical realities cannot be overtaken by romantic  promises of poetic possibilities. Vote gathering is a serious enterprise and it follows rules like any other practice.

There are many reasons to fault the AAP as it has mutated into a political entity. It came out of a truly broad based movement and yet it suffered repeated assaults from minorities, later caste banks and finally its core constituency was reduced dramatically from what it was earlier. The simple math is that it shed its support base by the bushels by the time it became a political movement. From a campaign that we all owned, and wanted to be a part of, it became the pipe dream of a few followers of a pied piper.

 To top it all, a series of gaffes, antics and attempts to corner media attention misfired. An electricity reconnection exercise in South Delhi slum came back to haunt the poor man they set out to make a model of bravado, when he was slapped with a case of illegal re-connection and attempt at theft. A 14-day protracted fast to garner support from people to not pay their power bills fizzled out without a whimper and no support. The Lokpal is all but forgotten. Nothing that was started ended. Nothing promised was delivered. Zany antics, crazy solutions and ad hoc ideas make for good distractions, but wannabe politicians with such high octane dreams do not a dependable party make.


This post has appeared in the Pioneer op-ed columns on Saturday 4th May, 2013  in an abridged form.


13 Responses to “Aam Aadmi goes to Party!”
  1. Dishee says:

    I m also agree with Anurag AAP party’s biggest achievement is they won poor ppl heart n hope…..poor ppl have hope from one n only AAP it’s proof 6 year old girl rape case n than many case coming to AAP they r not going to directly police n not even going to other parties….n before criticising AAP first think about other parties congress bjp sp bsp n others what they have done from 65 years what we have got reach corruption population pollution inflation loosing goodwill in world by increasing rapes n other crime, ppl of india r not happy what we got in 65 year just tell one thing than criticise AAP…….Khud kuch kar nahi sakte jo kare uski tang Kese khiche aap jese reporter se puch le……ager dusri partiyo ne kuch kiya hota AAP ke peda hone ki nobat nahi aati

  2. bikram says:

    Dnt agri with article.
    AAP is a honest mission which is worth trying irrespective of whether it succeds or not

  3. the frustrated indian says:

    Perturbed indian has given a right answer to this article. And moreover, advertising here will make embarrass you in future.Only if your soul is not corrupt then.

  4. AK4PeopleMovement says:

    Poor chap Kaul has written poor article with ROGUE mentality. Anyways this shows at least that AAP is a BIGGEST threat now for all parties.

    Long live AAP & Arvind Kejtiwal.

    BTW I forgot to tell that this poor chap Sanjay Kaul is from paid IT cell of BJP whose specific role is go malign AAP but they won’t succeed.

  5. venkatesh says:

    Reading the article by Mr.Sanjay Kaul who also is a good orator seen during TV debates shows how a wise man when steps out to defend the indefensible & false hood makes a mockery of a knowledgeable individual. The problem of BJP their Netas & supporters is they feel being in power is the ultimate change what the Nation needs & that change is BJP.This just shows they are just for power and not really interested in systemic changes.
    2ndly Mr.Sanjay Kaul also is seen contradicting him self & his party’s response in various times shows their fear for loosing.The eg of a new party which was formed & how they lost only shows how narrower is their thinking and seeing things only through the prism of winning elections.
    Mr.Sanjay Kaul should know it is for the political class challenge to fight elections win and bring legislation was the reason for AAP being formed but once AAP emerging as major force in politics
    brings the same political class crying foul.
    Mr.Sanjay Kaul should also know Every fight is not won by winning in the end but there are some fights which is won by the impact one creates.Now how can we expect the political class to understand this kind of impact fight when they see through the prism of power by winning elections and that’s the exact reason why AAP has become more powerful since AAP has nothing to loose by loosing a election but the political class have lot at stake to loose if they loose elections!
    Aam Aadmi Party never believes that by just changing faces in power is the only change but are there to change the way politics is practiced by the political class.Already AAP has been able to shift the political discourse of the Nation and is setting the agenda for the political class to follow.This is seen by the Nation as a victory of AAP. Yes AAP is already winning with out even fighting elections so if they are in power what other work they can do is the thinking of the Nation.AAP is providing solutions to issues and not doing postmortem as the political class has been doing for last 65 Years.AAP is the only hope for systemic changes to take place.If BJP wanted to be there they did have their moments which they squandered for eg Strong Lokayukta Bill in Gujarat,Passing of the Janlokpal bill in parliament.One more eg inducting & promoting criminally charged candidates like Radadiya and Amit shah.
    Acceptance of a problem can only lead to solutions but if BJP has a Ostrich like attitude god help them!

  6. Karnataka poll booted out u sir…ppl of karnataka ruled out…Election has tell the truth very soon.

  7. perturbed Indian says:

    I am a commoner, decently educated and do not hold the ability to augment the weight of what I write with fancy words, like you, the author.
    So I would rather KISS (KEEP IT SIMPLE SILLY), unlike you.

    What you wrote does make logical sense, no denying that. But what, at all can a commoner like me is left to resort to?? People do not vote in a Govt, they vote out a previous one, okay, agreed. But if the next man standing is as rotten as the one we want to vote out, what option are we left to at our disposal??

    You are a well read man and in my opinion do not come from a long standing political back ground -I bet if you can lay your hand on your heart and face yourself in the mirror and utter- “BJP, the one I am allied to, is the right political alternative to ease the suffering millions of my country”

    It takes guts and fearlessness to resort to the path the protagonist of AAP has taken. Him and You perhaps belonged to similar, if not same, socio-economic background- both are well educated, he was the IT commissioner, you were an advertising guy, both perturbed by the state of affairs in the country, both resorted to agitation and people’s movements in various domains. After a series of movements and experiences, both of you realized that to actually bring about a change that is inclusive, a change that is radical, you need to be a part of the government. But then aroused the difference- you chose the easy alternative of joining an already established, but equally corrupt and incapable political outfit, while this other guy dared to raise things from ground up.

    But in your heart and mind, it is clear to you aswell- he may not be able to assume power. You are more likely to do so, but even if you assume power, there is hardly anything you’ll be able to achieve!! You too shall be forced to act and speak to the wish of your commanders- the party high command, and continue be-fooling the poor public of our poor nation.

    You may end up alleviating your ownself, roam about with a red light atop your car, gunmen escorting you everywhere, but at the end of the day-you still would remain an impotent polictical leader who speaks impeccable English, wears fancy suits and just portrays all the great things he is doing, but at the inside, there is nothing much in his hands actually. And you are an advertising guy anyway. You know the game of lying rather well. You’ll be able to carry off the profile with panache I am sure.

    Good luck to you and your political career.

  8. Shirish says:

    very nicely analyzed! its a group of communist who are known as opportunist. First Arvind ditched Anna, as Anna was no longer of use and he got enough publicity. Then he ditched supporters by only Khulasa’s but no actual action, those Khulasa’s were themself dubious. 2 failed fast until death, I am not asking him to die, but you should think before you act. His rush to reach power and arrogance will kill this all movement. No ground work, no thinking, nothing constructive, all arrogance. Recently he was seen with cap in Urdu, so he is now playing communal (sorry, secular) card as well. Voters know that in case he is able to win some seats, he will join congress, with excuse to be in system to clean system. This bubble is going to burst, but its sad at the same time, coz this all started for a good cause and goal, but this opportunist nature killed everything!!!

  9. corporatefilmsdelhi says:

    They were asking a change from you !!! And you didn’t do it … That’s why they have to form a new party …moreover election will tell the truth very soon

  10. Anurag says:

    I may not be able to predict the future for AAP but I feel AAP has been more active as opposition party in Delhi compared to BJP . They have been asking all right questions. Their methodology may be debatable but they have been able to be in news continuously.

    Interesting, when police didn’t file FIR for 6 year old girl’s rape recently, the girl’s uncle called AAP . I feel this was a great achievement for AAP and shows the general perception of common man of Delhi about AAP.

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