29.3.15

War of anarchists: The tu-tu-main-main in AAP

It had to happen and it has. The Aam Aadmi Party, a group of disparate people cobbled together under the pretense of democracy, increasingly seen as variety, has split. The single unifying factor was Arvind Kejriwal. It just so happens that he is incapable of unifying.


I have disliked his politics from the moment he debuted as a public activist, and have had no reason to alter my views, not even after the huge mandate he got in the Delhi elections to once again become the chief minister.

To now watch senior members expose his autocratic methods and his resistence to follow the ideals they had to set them apart comes as no surprise. However, why did none of these worthies come out with the truth before the elections? I am particularly perturbed by Medha Patkar. She seems more concerned that her other colleagues have been treated shabbily rather than how the AAP is essentially about pulling wool over people's eyes.

But that has been the AAP hallmark — to cater to its middle-class constituency by giving them the honorific of the common man. If two party members are calling him out today, this too appeals only to the intellectual mall, the mass buyers of 'ethics'.

To put it simply, the AAP, more than any other political party, is removed from ground realities. Street protests and designed anarchy mean zilch if you pander to the WiFi seekers.


Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, the dissenters, are both well-educated men; they also happen to be clueless about real politick. Kejriwal has accused them of trying to get AAP defeated. The fact is that the party won. It means that these two do not even qualify as leaders.

If Kejriwal is merely casting aspersions, then it reveals his insecurity as well as his viciousness. There are noises about how he is the only one who matters and can gather votes. It is true. Bhushan and Yadav would find it difficult to win anything more than a lawyers' collective or academic election respectively. But that is the least of their failures. They are running round in circles over technicalities, masking them as idealistic demands. Nobody outside their professional coteries would give a damn.

If people do give a damn about Kejriwal it is not so much for what he stands for but for what they have come to stand for. They want to hold on to that, which is why they will continue to be in denial.

Honestly speaking, none of the AAP members has any serious political currency, including Kejriwal. None of them can even be called pale reflections of any mainstream political leader, for qualities good or bad. This is not a sign of originality, but of dissonance. This is what I wrote in October 2013:

What does a headline like "How AAP made the common man relevant in democracy again" really mean? To begin with, Kejriwal is the product of our democracy, not its creator, and certainly not a renaissance figure. As regards the common man, which common man has been walking in Lodhi Gardens with a cheque book to contribute to his cause? What kind of common man is really affected by corruption as hidden in Swiss banks and invested in antiques, when he has to deal with chai-paani demands and is sometimes the one making such demands?

The "surge from the bottom" is a falsification. The movement against corruption was and continues to be an upper middle-class conscience picnic. The 'I am Anna' caps have been replaced with 'Main Aam Aadmi Hoon', which does not sit well with the common man who might have no roof over his head, but is given a topi. The other slogan of 'swaraj', self-rule, negates a democratic India, by harking back to a colonial era term. Who will decide on the nature of the community that is to be built? Will there be no hierarchy at all?

The hierarchical battle within the party has given rise to sting operations where the leader calls senior members "kaminey" and other such things. Whether or not it constitutes abuse is irrelevant. What one must remember, though, is that one thing is certainly common to all at AAP: snooping on others. Remember Kejriwal telling party members prior to elections that if they are offered bribes by rivals they should take it and sting the briber?

Therefore, while each side is claiming moral superiority, neither has a foot to stand on forget a higher ground.

Also:
A touch of arrogance: The Kejriwal USP?
The posh anarchy of the 'aam aadmi'

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