AAP – India’s Lost Chance At Clean Politics

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I remember my father telling me when I was in my first year of college “College will change you. You will be tempted to drink, smoke, flirt with women, we might seem boring to hang out with & you might lose focus from your career. Beware!” I vehemently denied the possibility of any of these happening. Drinking maybe, but smoking – no chance in hell, I am not gonna get swayed by women/ lose focus on my career. But as luck might have it I did start smoking, I did start drinking, I did fall for women & did hang out more with my friends as compared to my family. All this had a telling impact on my marks in college & my career.

This anecdote reminds me of another similar development in modern India.

During the political chaos ridden years of 2013-14 one atypical group of people had emerged in our country. They were doctors, engineers, bankers, lawyers, government servants. They were the “Aam Aadmi” people like you & I, who were fed up of wide spread corruption brought on by the socialist & so called secular parties of our country (mainly the congress).

Although even a staunch BJP supporter like me can’t deny the stellar job done by Shiela Dixit, Delhi state & central did face the issue of rampant corruption. This led to a huge stir by Anna Hazare & his then relatively unknown acolyte – Arvind Kejriwal, demanding introduction of Lokpal to check corruption. People were told about the sudden transformation of Singapore thanks to Lokpal, of how a corruption plagued Singapore, became a developed economy literally overnight!

The Anna Hazare movement made the UPA government fall into a policy paralysis. There were country wide anshans & dharnas, especially in Delhi. Large reams of news print were dedicated in the coverage of these events. There was no decision taken on various projects including defence deals, infra spending etc for the fear of another corruption scandal emerging. This started the downfall of the UPA. Manmohan Singh, who till 2011 would be introduced by “Singh is King” was now being dubbed as Maunmohan Singh. His political opponents wasted no opportunity to paint a sorry picture of our then PM.
In the midst of all this chaos, from the shadows of Anna Hazare emerged an IIT graduated ex. government  servant – Arvind Kejriwal. Never before had someone so well qualified ever bothered to let go of the perks of corporate/government life to repair the distraught political situation in India. He immediately became the hope for a better India. An India run by educated, well qualified set of people. No longer will we have to put up with shameless, uncouth, uneducated politicians like Lalu Yadav, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav etc. The new political class will shun corruption & get into an with neither of the two factions, come what may!

At the same time the maverick, charismatic CM of Gujarat Mr. Narendra Modi fresh off a favourable court verdict on the riots case & winning the state elections for a third term was capturing the imagination of the nation by proclaiming the unmatched success of the Gujarat development model. His biggest opponents included his one time mentor Mr. LK Advani who had long harboured dreams of becoming the PM. Modi’s oratory skills combined with administrative abilities in handling had made him a clear favorite amongst the general populace & BJP workers alike. The workers wouldn’t miss a chance to chant his name. Modi’s public outreach through social media gradually captured the imagination of the country. The ghosts of godhra were exorcised. The voters were eagerly awaiting the election to caste their vote for this man with the fabled 56 inch chest.

As Modi was putting his plan of becoming the country’s most powerful man, Arvind Kejriwal was making a few manoeuvres of his own. After denying any ambitions of joining politics whatsoever, Kejriwal, owing to people’s demand ( yeah right) succumbed to the lure of political power & made a grand entry into politics by launching a new party – AAP (Aam Aadmi Party). Thereby breaking his first promise – of never getting into politics & never aspiring to hold a political post. He launched a party which was neither socialist, corrupt like the secular parties nor hindu right wing like the BJP. Many people charmed by the promise of a new India, quit their high paying jobs & lucrative businesses to join the AAP movement. I remember reading about a woman from the senior management of a private bank quitting her job, to follow her calling.

Even die hard AAP followers were aware that their party would not become the single largest party after their first Lok Sabha elections itself. But, Arvind Kejriwal dreamt with his eyes wide open. He challenged Modi & Rahul Gandhi openly. Contested the election from Varanasi- to take Modi head on. He left no stone unturned to win the election.

But the 2014 elections clearly belonged to one man – Narendra Damordas Modi. His charisma, legendary development of Gujarat topped a huge media blitz promising “acche din” was enough to ensure a clear majority for the NDA. Few could have predicted the huge margin of victory for the NDA.

Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP along with Modi’s other opponents were wiped out. Around the same time Delhi state election results were announced. Kejriwal’s debutante party had tied with BJP at 21 seats. AAP then allied with the Congress – the very party against which it held dharnas to claim majority & form the government in Delhi. Thus, Arvind Kejriwal broke his second promise – of never allying with either the UPA or the NDA. Arvind Kejriwal was sworn in as the chief minister. For the brief period that he was the chief minister, Delhi apparently changed overnight. Traffic cops, state police & government officials stopped demanding bribes. The rickshaw drivers the most harassed lot, was the most relieved. Thus becoming AAP’s biggest supporters in Delhi.  The government didn’t last barely lasted a month. Elections were called again, but this time it was Kejriwal’s crowning moment. BJP barley managed 3 seats. AAP had a landslide victory. People were anxious to know what disruptive changes the Kejriwal governement will bring.

What was Delhi’s & India’s hope quickly fizzled out into a joke of sorts. Instead of hearing about June strides their governement was making, the only news the citizens of Delhi heard was about their CM blaming the PM for everything which was happening in the Delhi & the country. The PM was apparently scared of AAP & its meteoric rise to power. Kejriwal might not be the first CM who blamed the centre for being supportive enough, but the manner in which Kejriwal regularly hurled allegations & abused made him the laughing stock of the Indian polity. The Indian middle class was disgusted with this headline grabbing, drama queen CM. Arvind Kejriwal had quickly become the most hated politician in India.

If these antics weren’t enough, the AAP lost its soul – that of a non corrupt, non minority appeasing, law abiding party. Their head was seen sharing the Dias with Lalu Yadav – a corruption scam convict, gifting a bicycle to an under age rapist from a minority community & doing everything possible to discredit the central government. Apart from the odd even rule, they did nothing for making the lives of Delhi citizens better. Millions were spent on ads speaking to various subsidies given by the Delhi governement. The party had no development stories to speak about and; relied on social welfare schemes to retain the faith of the public. But the people were furious with their CM. Why does he have to go to Bihar to campaign for the secular parties, when AAP is not contesting the elections? For how long will he keep blaming the PM & the LG? Many of AAP’s meme era including their founding memebers quit the party, owing to Kejriwal’s power hungry, megalomaniacal ways.

The NDA government meanwhile showed astute dedication towards getting the country back on track. After years of policy paralysis & the ensuing stagflation the country’s image had taken a beating. PM Modi enacted various laws & brought in several reforms to help realise India’s dream of becoming a global super power. Modi took the huge demonetisation gamble & luckily for him it paid off rich dividends. PM Modi smartly never responded to Kejriwal’s ploy of getting the PM into a never ending debate, thus annoying Kejriwal further.

AAP was tipped to win Punjab by the mainstream media. The NDA was to be handed over a huge defeat, thanks to the anti incumbency factor. Elections in UP, Goa too were just round the corner. AAP was hoping to win a few seats in Goa as well & had decided to sit out of the UP contest. The voters were anxious to find out out as to who will be the victor amongst Kejriwal & his arch nemesis PM Modi in this electoral battle. Fortune again seemed to favour Modi, as he won a landslide victory in UP & managed to come second in Goa & Punjab. The NDA pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat by forming the government in Goa, despite Congress being the single largest party.

The AAP suffered shameful defeats in Punjab & Goa. It did not manage to win a single seat in Goa & performed way below expectations in Punjab.

Instead of changing track & focussing on development, the party blamed EVM’s for their debacle. As if the electoral losses were not disheartening enough Kapil Mishra – an AAP party man accused Arvind Kejriwal of accepting a ₹2 crore bribe. To divert attention from this scandal AAP demonstrated how EVM’s can be tampered in the state assembly, using fake EVM’s.

Thanks to such antics the AAP & Arvind Kejriwal have lost all credibility. Kejriwal is compared to renowned drama queens like Rakhi Sawant. All noise & zero substance. Kejriwal has turned into the very politician whom he promised to rid India of. He is your stereotypical business class flying, abroad vacationing, corrupt politician, who joined politics just to make money & satiate his lustfor power. AAP will find it increasingly difficult to win an election anywhere in the country thanks to Mr. Arvind Kejriwal gross mismanagement of his party.

Mr. Kejriwal I don’t know how stupid the Indian electorate is to actually buy your gimmicks, but all I can say is you have been a huge let down. AAP losing the next Delhi state elections is a given & so is Mr.Modi getting a second term in 2019. It will be a matter of time before AAP will forgotten or pushed to a corner due to series of electoral defeats & the resulting infighting.

The worst affected will be the Indian electorate & the truly honest individuals who want to enter politics to make a difference. Kejriwal’s horrible performance when entrusted with the mandate to cleanse Delhi has made it doubly difficult to trust rank newcomers from corporate India who promise clean politics. The biggest gainers will be NDA & UPA – India’s best bets at stable governance. Even if a newbie with no political background does enter politics you can rest assured the NDA or UPA candidates telling the voters “Kejriwal ko Bhool Gaye? Bharosa toh us pe bhi kia tha. Phir kya hua?”

AAP’s failure in running a credible governement is one of modern India’s biggest losses. The only way forward to salvage the situation is for AAP to remove Arvind Kejriwal from the party, get back Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav into the fold & start afresh.

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