AAP- Downward slide?
The AAP Government
For a party formed just a year ago, Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP managed to pull off a miracle by winning 28 seats in the Delhi assembly elections. His rhetoric of a polity answerable to the common man struck the right note and his party won handsomely.
Everybody felt that at last here was somebody who was not only ready to take on the system but also could enthuse the masses to vote for him.They( especially the TV savy) saw a messiah in Arvind and believed that the country could finally arise out of the morass the present day politicians had sunk it in.
Arvind Kejriwal led AAP formed the Delhi government, with Arvind as Chief Minister.The rest of the cabinet consisted of rookies with no experience of Governance at all. Not that the CM had any. But the huge fanfare leading to the formation of the government and the public oath taking ceremony, had the country in raptures. Everybody was seeing a revolution of sorts in the making and had high hopes on this crusader and his party AAP.
Somnath Bharati, in the eye of the storm
During the campaigning phase, Kejriwal had reiterated that he would neither support nor take support from the other parties namely the BJP and the Congress.But the results came in and with each party not in a position to form the government by themselves, thus leading to a stalemate. Then the Congress offered support to Kejriwal. Kejriwal next asked for a referendum from the people of Delhi. He said that the majority had replied in the positive(?) and he agreed to form the government with the Congress supporting him from the outside.The first 'U' turn.
Within days of forming the government, Kejriwal and his team began to show their incompetence.True, he announced the free water scheme and subsidized power for the people.But then they came with caveats. He made policies without understanding the ramifications.
When many of the houses of the lower strata did not have water pipelines even, who would benefit from the free water scheme? On the power issue, he could only partially fulfill his promise.
He was allotted two bungalows, one for his personal use and the other as his home office. The surprising part was when he accepted the offer.For a man who had claimed that he would abstain from the perks of power and live the same life as he did before becoming CM, this came about as a farce. Only after intensive media coverage and scrutiny,did he backtrack and asked for simpler accommodation. For a man whose claim to fame was the coverage he received on TV, the same TV proved to be the challenger. Another 'U' turn.
His government was still in its infancy, but Mr. Kejriwal had very big ambitions. His plans to contest the general elections in a big way and thus prove to be the Kingmaker if not the King himself of the country, began to take away his time, time which should have been spent in first solving the problems for which he had been given the mandate.A Chief Minister who had no administrative experience was now eyeing the post of Prime Minister. An enrollment drive was begun all over the country to get more members into the party.Even the nominal enrollment fee was waived. All and sundry got into the party. In fact it was becoming fashionable to wear the AAP cap.
His senior colleague Prashant Bhushan created a furore when he said there should be a referendum in Kashmir. Allegations flew thick and fast forcing Kejriwal to clarify his position on Kashmir.
The Law Minister got embroiled in a controversial vigilante type attack on foreign women staying in a particular locality in Delhi.In the full glare of TV cameras, he was seen ordering the police at the scene to take the ladies into custody. The policeman refused and there ensued a massive altercation between the cops and the law minister. The cop was insisting on protocol while the minister wanted to meet out instant justice. In the ensuing fracas, the foreigners claim they were molested and forced to undergo tests, even though they were innocent.
But the biggest blunder was to come.The CM along with his cabinet colleagues decided to break all laws, and sit on a protest( Dharna) in a highly sensitive part of Delhi. The CM cared two hoots for Law and legality. His one point agenda, to get the cops who dared to oppose his minister sacked. The CM made it a prestige issue and refused to listen to saner counsel.The police blockaded the area and a large part of central Delhi was locked down.Several Metro stations were shut, compounding the travails of the common man.
Ironically when asked was he not creating anarchy in the streets of Delhi, Kejriwal claimed he was an Anarchist. He took it several notches upwards asking all Delhiites to come for the demonstration, Policemen to shed their uniforms and generally asking all to join him. He spoke ill of the Republic day parade scheduled for 26 Jan and called the Home Minister names. On the side his law Minister, spoke in derogatory terms about the Delhi Police, the opposition leader and a very senior Lawyer.
In fact It was seen that the CM was signing official documents sitting on the pavement, throwing all propriety to the winds. He just did not seem to care and even threatened to create a huge scene on Republic day .
As if all this was not enough, his maverick supporter, Kumar Vishwas created another embarrassment for the party,when a video showing him speaking in derogatory terms about the Nurses from South India surfaced on the Internet.
His Law Minister refused to meet the Delhi Commission for Women even after being served a Summons, citing urgent work. But he was seen Flying a kite around the same time.
These and some other incidents showed the party in poor light. Were they acting according to plan( after all any publicity is good)?or was it their inability to cope with the huge expectations placed on their shoulders.
The future of AAP
Can AAP still claim to be different from other parties?
Mr. Kejriwal has done so many 'U' turns so far, that he does not seem to know whether he is coming or going. His insistence on shielding his Law Minister, is costing him dearly.Moreover he has no control over his colleagues and their utterances. They seem to be so engrossed in gaining TV time, that everything else has become secondary. Maybe it is a part of their strategy to create issues and then appear on Prime Time TV, to keep themselves always in the public eye. This publicity hungry type of politics is slowly leading to viewer fatigue and they run a real risk of losing public affection and support.
There is an established way to resolve issues, not by taking to the streets and by asking everybody to revolt.The policies they stand for are as yet unclear and they are already looking at a national presence.Delhi University for Delhites only, no FDI in retail are some of the policies announced. As a commentator on TV said,"They are more Leftist than the Leftists themselves".
Four weeks is very short a time to judge a politician, but the way this AAP government is functioning, it seems to be disintegrating into chaos and confusion.They seem to unable to grasp that their primary duty now is to deliver to the people of Delhi on the promises they made while campaigning. Instead of that they seem to be engaging in Theatrics on the streets.
So much for the hysteria and hope generated by Mr. Kejriwal and company.They are going the of any other political party in the country. The difference they claim they are has not been apparent so far.