Voting for AAP is a big mistake - by Rajiv Kumar
Like others in the middle class intelligentsia, I have followed the rise of Mr Arvind Kejriwal (AK) since 2006 when I first met him with a group of visiting experts from the UK based International Futures Forum. He was then leading Parivartan and working for grass root democracy with Delhi's resident welfare associations, which impressed us hugely. Since then I have seen the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) via India Against Corruption (IAC) that acted as a propitious midwife and Anna Hazare's help that gave it instant public recognition.
And positive curiosity took my wife and me to the Ramlila Maidan when AK shared the stage with Anna. It is then that first questions arose about AK and his tactics. I saw that in that mid-morning, mobile TV van crews, media personnel and core supporters outnumbered the aam aadmis like us. AAP relied far too much on the media for its rise and this I thought could be its Achilles heel, as it has in fact turned out to be. Those who live by the media are also likely to fall by it.
In the wake of his abdicating governance in Delhi, the media has started aggressively questioning AK on his post election plans.
AK has consistently dodged a direct answer by saying that the Indian polity is going through a huge churning (Samudramanthan ho raha hai desh mein) and we can neither predict the outcome nor therefore AAP’s post election stance. AAP daily exacerbates this samudramanthan by AK and other leaders deriding and pulling down every stakeholder in the country’s political and economic mainstream. The waves being whipped up by AK and his colleagues threaten today to drown all our established institutions and agencies and discredit them beyond repair. And the Congress, with its single-minded anti-Modi focus is guilty of actively conniving with this dangerous game. AAP’s tactics could result in uncontrollable chaos in a society already suffering the consequences of a leadership vacuum. For example we could witness the inexorable rise of vigilantism a la Somnath Bharti. With the police being demoralised and corrupt administrators in cahoots with their corrupt political bosses being completely discredited and delegitimised, we will be left in the hands of lumpen vigilantes and forced to fend for ourselves. This is the likely outcome of AK’s preferred option of non-stop churning, resulting in complete chaos.
AK would do well to remember that in the mythical samudramanthan , the ocean also brought forth the pitcher full of halahal, the deadliest poison. The universe would have been destroyed had even a drop of the halahal been allowed to fall from the pitcher. It needed a Shiva to drink it and then hold in his Vishudhdhi (the area of the throat and larynx) to prevent the catastrophe. Does AAP have the organisation capacity to roll back the chaos and vigilantism once it breaks out? It does not. And so this facile talk of samudramanthan is full of dangerous portents.
We should not vote for someone who openly and persistently promises chaos as his desirable electoral outcome.
The Delhi experience and subsequent media interviews that AK and other AAP leaders like Yogendra Yadav have given however, do reveal AAP’s likely post-electoral stand. We can visualise three possible scenarios. One, in which AAP has limited success and its tally is limited to a dozen seats from metros or larger cities.
This in itself will be an amazing outcome for a new party. Its positive impact on the political processes in India should not be under-estimated either. But in this scenario, AAP will be marginalised in government formation after the elections and that is a desirable. Second, AAP could pick up between 20-30 seats. In this situation, a la Delhi, AAP will clearly not be averse to, despite their protestations to the contrary, joining a ruling coalition supported from outside by the Congress with less than 100 seats. The third scenario will be of AAP winning an even larger number of seats and then ‘asking its supporters’ if it could lay claim to forming the government at the head of a higgedly-piggedly coalition because it will in this case, emerge as the third largest party after the BJP and Congress.
The first scenario, with AAP’s limited tally is by far the best for India at this time. It will allow AAP to have a positive impact on the political processes; to focus on getting re-elected in Delhi, which offers the most fertile ground for its experiment; and yet prevent it from exacerbating the chaos and churning.
A larger mandate for AAP would pitchfork the party in the whirlpool of messy government formation, for which it is not only ill suited but also avowedly opposed in principle. If AAP is involved in any way in the formation of the government, the country is sure to suffer avoidable political instability until the next elections.
That AAP prefers such an outcome, and it is clear from their statements, that it considers the forthcoming elections only as a semi-final as in Delhi.
India cannot afford such an outcome of sustained political instability. AK seems to assume that economic activity will continue unhindered and unaffected despite the political vacuum in Delhi. Far from it, investment sentiments could sour further, decision making will be further paralysed and critical reforms not implemented. All this could well extend to the next two to three years. In the meantime, aspiring and skilled youth will swell the workforce and see their hopes for employment dashed as the economy stutters for want of much needed political support. This is a nightmare scenario, for which the main factor would be an outcome in which AAP secures more than a dozen seats.
I am sure the Indian electorate will display its pragmatic wisdom and exercise its mandate in a manner to rule out this frightening eventuality. It will see through AAP’s platform of unplanned and knee- jerk radicalism as being completely unsuited for our conditions especially when we are already in the throes of ‘slowflation’ and the rising gulf between the youth’s economic aspirations and outcomes. more