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. Shirish says:

    @Rohit Nigam : You failed miserably to answer some very stupid questions, infact in all answers you tried to skip the real answer. Let me make them easy for you to undertand 🙂
    1. Arvind ditched Anna – that was not a consensual parting, infact the party split and thus the movement. I am sure you were not sleeping while this all was happening. I remember he tried to get Anna to somehow break his fast…but that didn’t worked. Also, there were many disputes and Anna refused to support AAP candidates. What else you need, how many of us knew Arvind before Anna’s movement….he used Anna’s popularity and ditched him!!

    2. Exposes were dubious – Don’t try to politicize Khemka, he was applauded by everyone irrespective of party support. I have also raised point on ownership of those Khulasa. For your informaiton (I am sure you lack it) … a. Robert Wadra (done by economic times ) b. Gadhkari – done by Anjali who herself is dubious, a internal lokpal for indefinite duration is running against her 🙂 … btw what happened to Gadhkari? Infact in that Khulasa whatever point they raised found to be incorrect. c. Khurshid (done by India Today) infact Khurshid sued Indian Today and not Arvind :). Now 2G and Coalgate are BJP finding and CWG is CAG/Media and Railgate is CBI … he is just using somebody else’s work, which was already in media for quite a long time (not for you, but stupid people knows it).

    Now he shouted, GOOD! what happened after??? how many PIL’s are there??He was asked whether he owns those khulasa and he said “no” … is this the way leader works?

    3. Fast unto Death – I accept my fault, I read is incorrectly!

    4. Fasts had no results – ha ha ..this one was funny! he started fast for something and resulted in making voters 🙂 oh! yes I am stupid .. but my smart friend…you are too good in learning politics. Btw he promised to wave off electricity bills … too good!! re connected a disconnected connection…is this how he is going to develop?? breaking a system will not make things better, typical communist mind set(halla gulla). He should come out with possible solution and press those solution to be implemented. I am still waiting for something constructive from him!

    5. Urdu Cap – yes this is communal card, even a novice knows it. But anyway you are looking for AAP members in electricity fast..then anything is expected!

    6. Join Congress – Another stupid argument, everyone is remotest place in India knows that there cannot be any coalition between Congress and BJP, due to ideological difference. Rest future will tell!!

    My only humble request is support who ever you want, keep your eyes open and keep reading news paper!!! AAP is not a party of saints, Mayank and Anjali are known corrupt, check old reports, not latest for their track record. Prashant is not only corrupt, he is typical anti Indian mindset….you can find numerous video’s he talking against India, Indian army and pro Kashmir movement. He signed petition for waiving hanging of Kasab/Afzal. I would also like you to check about Binayak Sen and Ilina Sen who are part of AAP’s reform team’s.

    Kind regards,

  2. Rohit Nigam says:

    Few people have nicely replied to Sanjay Kaul. One must not forget, Sanjay was one of the sane voices in the Janlokpal movement and that is why I subscribed to him. He does speak ‘For the people’. However, right now duty calls and he ‘Has to’ write against AAP. If you read through the blog, you would feel that he is not writing from the heart, but just doing what he has been asked to. Still, I respect him.

    Coming to a really stupid comment made by Shirish, I would rebut him point by point:

    1. Arvind ditched Anna – False. Both went separate ways and Anna himself has said this. He even came to bless Arvind during the Sundar Nagri fast.

    2. Exposes were dubious – So that’s why Ashok Khemka is respected by BJP? So that’s why BJP sacked Gadkari? So the swiss bank account number of Ambani is incorrect .. so on.

    3. Fast unto Death – There were indefinite fasts, not unto death. Learn to meaning of ‘Indefinite’ first.

    4. Fasts had no results – The first fast clarified that Government doesn’t care about the common man. The second fast made common man shed fear and made a good ground volunteer team for AAP. Of course, 10.5 LAKH families supported that that electricity rates are incorrect, which means 50 Lakh Delhi people, which is 1/3 Delhi votes

    5. Urdu Cap – Arvind has wore Tamil cap, Marathi cap, Pagdi etc … you mean Urdu doesn’t belong to India? BTW, why is *Modi* seen so much with Muslims nowadays? Communal card?

    6. Arvind Kejriwal will join Congress: That will NOT happen. I would want to counter argument with the way Central BJP has been soo soft with Congress and Sonia, but I won’t do it here.

  3. achy says:

    You posit that voters do not waste vote and will unseat the corrupt government with best available alternative. Being a BJP man, then you should be supremely confident that it should win Delhi. After all, Congress is Comatose with rampant corruption, establishment in tatters and people up in arms. So, why the worry ? The reason is that AAP has captured the imagination of public. It had not only diagnosed correctly that corruption is eating the vitals of the country but has also come up with the proper cure and i.e. concept of direct democracy in the form of Swaraj. You may wish that it has lost bucket of supporters from the JLP days but my gut feel is different. AAP is an idea whose time has come. And if I am wrong then I worry for my country as I do not see the salvation in BJP, which is only lesser of the evil compared to the fount of evil i.e. Congress .

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