AAP setback: Arvind Kejriwal must shed arrogance to prevent party's volte-face on ideology

Is the severe blow to the Aam Aadmi Party in the elections to the Delhi civic body the end of the alternative politics where people, not the leaders, have a say? Or is it a mere hiccup in the brief but fascinating history of the common man’s political enterprise? One hopes the latter is the fact because notwithstanding the Modi promises to cleanse the system, there are old habits hard to defeat.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Image from Twitter

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Image from Twitter

The fact that the Delhi’s urban electorate chose not to even pay a notional compliment to the Swaraj Bharat Party led by a public intellectual, Yogendra Yadav points to the reality. People are willing to believe the traditional politician and a political party as long as he and it comes out with something out of the box, which Modi has.

It would be a long, long time before the likes of the well-intentioned Yogendra Yadavs make a dent, which is unfortunate. Yadav has used not just the political platform by fielding candidates in Delhi civic polls but has been seeking judicial intervention to set matters right with PILs on a host of issues that concern the common citizens.

However, this is less about Yadav, and more about the alternative politics which Yadav, along with Arvind Kejriwal had worked on. But the resounding defeat of the AAP, only a shade better than the Congress, is almost like a death knell for the very idea of alternative politics. Ira Pande, has written in The Indian Express how AAP’s conduct of its affairs has been helpful to Modi’s success in the civic election.

"What one most mourns is the loss of faith in an alternative brand of politics. As Modi picks up state after state, he must wish there were more Rahul Gandhis and Arvind Kejriwals ahead." That yesterday’s hero, disowned by his eminent peers like Yadav and Anna Hazare, is in the same ranks as Rahul Gandhi is evidently reasoning enough for coming close to writing the epitaph.

The sudden leap of faith in BJP simply because it changes all its candidates cannot be the answer. It is also the loss of faith in the party which wanted to wrest control from the BJP’s lackluster or abysmal performance in the city governance for a decade. The AAP, fortunately, has admitted to "mistakes" instead of harping on the allegation that electronic voting machines were tampered to benefit BJP.

That Kumar Vishwas, a party leader and a convincing speaker who can combine poetry, logic and imagery with his rhetoric, has managed to stay in the party despite a demand that the party ceases criticising ‘nationalism’ is AAP’s realisation that it did not understand the mood of the voters. In the pre-MCD poll period, he would have perhaps been ejected unceremoniously from the party.

If AAP wants to survive as a viable entity, and not fritter away the massive mandate it had secured to rule a tiny state of which Delhi civic body’s footprint is a very large component, Kejriwal would need to do far more than tolerating and retaining Vishwas. Return of Yadav and Prashant Bhushan is unlikely ever. The party would need to democratise itself. Just like the days when mohalla committees had a say.

AAP had promised. And therefore, it had a following. AAP had no difficulty in winning 67 of the 70 Assembly seats but it has, since Modi’s emergence, lost its moorings entirely. Let me return to a point pithily made by Ira Pande: "As Vastu experts would say, it had too much of negativity and not enough positive energy.” That negativity was injected into itself by the party and its leader who behaved like a supremo instead of a people’s leader.

That the negativity won and not all the good work done like streamlining school admissions, improving the schools, mohalla clinics etc. is a pointer to the compelling need for changes in the way the party goes about its business. In fact, most of the work done are such that they jell well with municipal governance. And yet, AAP was humbled, and one expects its brass to shift from arrogance to being humble.

Updated Date: May 04, 2017 18:30 PM

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