As bad as the year was, 2013 ended with a great deal of hope. On December 8, the assembly election results were announced for the 4 major north indian states, viz. Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) was leading in all 4 but still a Government in Delhi looked to be a distant dream for it.
Now as it happened, BJP and Akali Dal combine had won 32 seats in the 70 member Delhi assembly; just 4 short of a majority. If a similar scenario were to come up a few months ago, the equation would have been quite simple in favor of BJP. But the dynamics of politics in India had changed, marked by the entry of the populist Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) in the political foray. Led by the dynamic and humble, activist turned politician, Arvind kejriwal, the party, to almost everybody’s surprise won 28 seats, 8 short for a majority. The Congress managed to secure the 3rd spot with a mere count of 8 assembly seats while the others won 2.
The Star Activist, Mr. Kejriwal, claiming to be the true representative of the common man, a champion for the cause of the poor had managed a historic feat in Delhi. AAP’s entry had raised the moral bar for all parties and no horse trading took place for securing the majority. Ultimately, when all hopes of making a government had faded and a reelection was seen as the only option, the Congress decided to support the 1st AAP Government in Delhi.
But, Now as William Dalrymple has quoted in his book, City of Djinns, ‘Whoever has built a new city in Delhi has always lost it: the Pandava brethren, Prithviraj Chauhan, Feroz Shah Tughlaq, Shah Jehan.. They all tried to built new cities in Delhi and they lost them.’ The Britishers were no exception. And neither will be AAP.
Recently, rebels like Vinod Kumar Binny and Tina Sharma came out in the open to criticize the AAP policies and administration in Delhi. Arvind Kejriwal a man who rose because of protests seems to be surrounded by protesters with various demands. Now this instances of failure of AAP, is not much of a surprise. AAP leaders have often compared themselves with African National Congress(ANC), a party who just like AAP rose from protests. But they do not realise that ANC, inspite of Mr. Mandela’s leadership and support from the trade unions and left parties started to show instances of failure after the First Democratic Elections itself.
To study AAP’s failure in Delhi we need to understand how did AAP manage to create such a huge impact in such a short span of time. AAP grew by selling the idea of change. So what? Change has been thriving political plank used by all opposition parties since the emergence of multi-party politics in India. What AAP managed to do was sell the idea of change, differently. instead of projecting themselves as agents of change, like other political parties do, they projected themselves as change. Instead of saying ‘We will bring change’, they said ‘ We ARE change’. As they say, winners do not do different things, they do things, differently!
To the surprise of many, the people of Delhi(especially the youth), who were fed up with corruption, price rise, inefficient governance, casteist politics bought AAP’s vision of change. AAP, a protests turned political party with Politicians of none or minimal political experience had to survive while carrying on their shoulders the load of sky-high expectations of the people of Delhi. What was also important for AAP was to realize that their performance in Lok Sabha polls of 2014 completely depended on their performance of their Government in Delhi.
Before coming to power AAP leaders, especially, Arvind Kejriwal, made loads of promises, which if not impossible were very difficult to fulfil. Also many of the promises suffered conflicting interests. As soon as the party came to power they started working towards fulfilling their promises. The first day, all MLAs travelling in Autos and the Chief Minister himself, like the Hero from the bollywood film ‘Nayak’ travelling in the Metro. This, as populist and ideal as it may sound is not practical at all. And the AAP leaders took no time in realising this. Soon Innovas were offered and the CM Mr. Kejriwal was offered a 5-bedroom flat in the plush areas of Delhi. This was like cooked meat for the opposition to dig in. And the media was no different in criticizing them.
Soon, even before AAP could celebrate its one month anniversary its policies were being criticized left and right by all alike, opposition leaders, journalists, businessmen and economists. The problem with AAP was that most of the members were prior bureaucrats or common men with no expertise in public administration. They thrived on a sudden surge of groundswell support and to appease them, they could go to any extent. Now we are back to the similar old times. All the excitement about the novelty of this experiment has died down and so have people’s hopes. Now what remains to be seen is how well AAP manages to recover from here before they are forgotten in the oblivion of times….
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