AAM AADMI PARTY ‘S ARVIND KEJRIWAL ATONES – TO WHAT END …BY SHANTONU SEN
Arvind Kejriwal has gone on record , after the Delhi Parliamentary elections, expressing an apology for relinquishing the reins of power in Delhi after 49 days as Chief Minister. This has come almost after two months of frequent description of his act by sections, mostly middle class , of AAP supporters as inexplicable. Opposing party called him names , the most frequent is , running away from responsibility , a bhagora, a disaster for Delhi. . Since then he has been seen as an ambitious politician masking his hunger for greater power, P M of India?, in an renunciation action. Too ambitious for his own good, betrayer of the people of Delhi , opportunist in using the referendum mode are some millstones that Arvind Kejriwal has carried. After ignoring all this for months he has , finally explained and apologised.
An act of abdicating power invites a sense of awe. There is healthy respect for the person. That has been the rule. Arvind Kejriwal, in that belief, invited great personal inconvenience to himself and his colleagues when he reseigned . The fact is , seen now, in retrospect, AAP’s middle class supporters rooted for him believing that AAP was like Congress , BJP Samajwadi etc minus their corruption. Its mode of governance wil be no different from theirs minus their corrupt activities is what they fondly believed. That is why they strongly urged it to form a government with the out side support from the Congress. This did not fall in with AAP’s declared pre-election announcement that it will neither accept nor give support either to the Congress or to the BJP. APP slipped from that pedestal but it held on to its perch, it so thought, when it refused to enter into any kind of dialogue with the party that gave it out side support. To the middle class it was a mistake, a big one, as coalition( and out side support amounted to just that) dharma needed frequent discussions. The dharna to support Bharati also saw an aghast APP middle class supporters furrowing their fore heads. No matter, Khirki Extension lower middle class and the rural habitues long subject to Police indifference to their repeated complaints, saw in Bharati , their MLA, a singular politician who has forcefully projected the areas woes. The middle class did not want a Party which was disinclined to rule. By just being a puryeyor of anger it was rocking the system.When they gave their support they , sort of, conceived APP minus its anarchy . At least, as government they wanted no protests, no dharna. They failed to appreciate that AAP had not come to form a Government. It was going to throw the system out, the baby and the bath water . The middle class , the substantial lot, were shocked to their inner core, horrified. They became hostile. AAP’s core support remains and has , probably, expanded. They understood that the system even with out corruption would give them no relief. They wanted the anarchy, the change’ and , quickly. This group has remained with AAP.
What is AAP? Where is APP? Is it a breath of fresh air as Amartya Sen , famously, once, called it? Or is it a motely group of idealogues who are persuing only one agenda, against corruption, but in different and odd ways? It appears to me AAP is evolving . It was formed only to fight corruption after the tremendous, at least in Delhi, support that was drummed up for India Against Corruption. From a movement it became an unnamed party focused only on Jan Lokpal. It took quite some time to call itself the Aam Admi Party(AAP). In Government it focused only on a law, the Jan Lokpal, to stem , reduce, possibly eliminate the extortionate type of corruption. However , since day to day running of government has many facets, it also plunged into governance clumsily and speedily, too speedily for the staid middle class. Its steps to lower burden of the less priviliged, water shortage, electricity bills, police heavy hand on private transporters and ordinary people and specially its act of pardoning and regularising electricity bills of those consumers who , acting on AAP’s drive against discom’s inflated bills, had not paid electricity charges, was not the governance that this class expected. But its core supporters the lower middle class, the professional middle class, the teachers, the slum dwellers , the jhuggi-jhopri loved it and their support still remains and their number is not insubstantial. The upper strata among the middle class, who were with AAP initially, have progressively distanced themselves from AAP. They wont vote for AAP in General Elections 2014.
AAP means different things to different people. As I have said , else where, to me AAP is that elephant which the seven blind people feel and describe. It has seized the rock to spring on to the belief , in itself humongous, that it will stanch the corruption from India’s body as it bleeds.