Try to understand Kejriwals's political strategy
We also have to understand AAP's DNA and tactics by looking at where it came from: it was the product of the Jan Lokpal movement. It is a street-fighter, not a party of government. Its success is not the result of what it stands for but what it stands against. Just as Pakistan defines itself as âNot Indiaâ, AAP defines itself as âNot the Establishmentâ; its politics is anti-politician. To sustain itself on a diet of Not-the-Establishment rhetoric and keep its cadres motivated, it needs a solid enemy to define as the establishment.
Till December 2013, the Congress was the establishment. After the Congress was demolished in Delhi and three other states, Arvind Kejriwal found that the establishment had vanished. This is why he had to invent a new, mightier enemy in the Narendra Modi-led BJP. Without erecting a Goliath, David would be a footnote in history. Martyrdom is gained against lions, not mice.
If we understand this, we know why Kejriwal acts the way he does. Congress turned out to be a hollow card-board box, while BJP is the one looking muscular. Kejriwal's idea is not to defeat the BJP but to define himself as David - the frail muffler man heading off to fight Gigantic Evil. He is anti-BJP because BJP is the party to beat.
This is why suddenly all the scams of the Congress do not matter. This is why Kejriwal heads to Gujarat, where his party has no chance whatsoever. If he fields lots of candidates in Gujarat, the resultant split in the anti-BJP vote may end up giving Modi a clean sweep - maybe all 26 seats. Kejriwal is in Gujarat to position himself as âNot Modiâ, not to even try to win. His goal is to provoke, engineer a disproportionate response, and position himself as the victim - the Christ whom everyone wants to crucify.
Kejriwal's strategic goals in this election are the following: establish himself and AAP as the party of opposition by positioning himself against the stronger BJP rather than weak Congress; rattle the BJP by regular tantrum-throwing and street fights so that the latter ends up making strategic errors and gives AAP a martyrâs halo; and use the media to build Kejriwalâs image into a larger-than-life reality.
Kejriwalâs strategy is not about 2014 â but to occupy the left-of-centre space now occupied by the Congress. He is a bigger long-term threat to the Congress than the BJP, but the BJP hasnât quite understood this.
Now letâs understand the strategy from the BJP side, and why current tactics are inadequate to fend off Kejriwal. As we said before, the BJP is like the conventional army fighting a conventional force â the Congress. That fact that it seems to be winning has blinded it to the reality of an insurgency in the backyard. It got a rude awakening when it failed to win Delhi in December, but the party has built a sense of entitlement about the next elections, and hence tends to see AAP as a spoiler about to rain on its party.
The fact is the elections are not in the bag, and to ensure it does not lose its footing in the coming 50 days, the BJP has to be ready for Kejriwal's unconventional war. more