The recently formed Aam Aadmi Party is a curious creature and has people and ideologies of all kinds and is riddled with contradictions.
A look at some of them…
1. Left versus Right: In this Left-leaning nation, former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao turned Right for the first time in 1991. He lost in 1996 and subsequently this space was occupied by the BJP from 1998-2004. However they too lost.
While Manmohan Singh should have occupied this space from 2004 onwards, party president Sonia Gandhi made sure that the Congress veered Left again. After the Anna Hazare agitation, both AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and BJP Prime Ministerial Narendra Modi occupied that space.
That’s why at that time Kejriwal was rightly seen as Modi’s biggest threat.
However then the AAP curiously released a Communist Manifesto and their 49-day Delhi rule shows that they are desperately trying to displace the CPM, not BJP, as the third national party.
Now that’s a contradiction. The core leadership is communist, but the solid middle class base is capitalist in nature and abhors communism.
2. Khaas versus Aam: The entire AAP leadership presented themselves as simple aam aadmis who would identify with the common people. They came in the Metro and autos. However all that was a show. Soon they were clamouring for SUVs and official residences.
Kejriwal assumed an arrogant avatar and his disciples Somnath Bharti and Ashutosh started behaving as if they owned Delhi. All of them behave like VVIPs and cannot take even an iota of criticism either from the media or on Twitter.
Many prominent AAP leaders are crorepatis, celebrities and from the privileged class and cannot be called aam aadmis by any stretch of imagination.
3. Reformer versus Anarchist: India is in desperate need of reform and not necessarily new laws. That’s why some Chief Ministers have done better than others and some States are way ahead of others on many indicators.
Most people looked to the AAP to be a reformist party and were hopeful that they would start reforming New Delhi for a start. But they did nothing of the sort. Far from reforming the water and power situation, they introduced destructive subsidies.
With his crazy dharna over saving Bharti, Kejriwal showed that he would choose anarchy over reforms any day.
4. New versus old: Everyone thought that the AAP would bring in something “new” to Indian politics and that is why it became a darling of the media and managed to get 28 seats in the Delhi Assembly polls. But so far they have dished out ancient fare...
Dharnas. Subsidies. Vigilante raids. Arrogant spokespersons. Saving wrongdoers. Defending mistakes. Name calling. Dishing out baseless allegations. Boasting non-stop…
5. Inclusive versus exclusive: How many common men have joined, proved their credentials and have been given plum posts within the organization? This is nothing but a breakaway faction of Team Anna, which has taken journalists, celebrities, high-profile activists and industrialists on board and given them top posts.
6. Democracy versus dictatorship: The SMS poll on whether they should form the government or not was the exception and that too because they were genuinely stumped and confused and didn’t know what to do.
Otherwise all Kejriwal’s actions appear to be exactly of his mentor Anna Hazare: My way or the highway! Kejriwal refused to take any of the Delhi agencies in his confidence but just chose to order them around.
Bharti as Law Minister instead of taking the Delhi Police into confidence ordered them around. They don’t have the numbers to bring about a change or even the tiniest inclination to go in for a consensus.
Even the AAP spokespersons have stopped trying to convince TV viewers and are resorting to bullying.
7. Party member versus party member: It is no wonder that infighting broke out in the party quite soon. Captain Gopinath was one of the first in the party to question AAP’s economic policy only to be shouted down by Ashutosh.
Mallika Sarabhai and Kumar Vishwas entered into a slanging match that was played across TV channels for days. AAP members are scared of echoing Prashant Bhushan’s volatile stand on Kashmir and have distanced themselves from him.
Meera Sanyal and Medha Patkar, who were once on totally different sides of the Enron divide; now find themselves fighting the Lok Sabha elections in the same party and the same city!
Well-wisher Arun Bhatia also launched an all-out attack after being denied a ticket, a process which is totally non-transparent.
Will the contradictions end or will the contradictions end the AAP? That only time can tell!
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogshere.