Monday, February 10, 2014

Theatrics and Reality of AAP Government

For millions of people when Arvind Kejriwal was elected as Delhi CM represented a strong beacon of a healthy change in Indian political system. This was because there is no political party left in India today that can claim to be corrupt free. AAP occupied the space of a corrupt free one. The expectations just sky reached because it was expected that AAP would do something that was least expected and far more unique when compared to all other political parties. The media still continues 24*7 coverage of AAP policies, behavior and perspectives and it really has become the watch dog more than any AAM ADMI in Delhi. If the media was really active during the pre-2000 era all negative shades of both BJP and Congress would have been exposed. The truth of secualrism v/s communalism, truth about every policy move BJP/Congress took when they were in power would have come to the forefront long before. 

Whether you call it bad timing or not the Lok Sabha elections appears to be a huge opportunity for this new party and so the entire strength and force is currently being put behind winning maximum seats in Lok Sabha rather than proving themselves through governing Delhi. This dream of occupying the role of a spoiler to both Congress and BJP seems to be very much in the mind of every AAP member. Nothing wrong with it, although it is detrimental to 2014 elections since a majority to any party is far better than a hung parliament.

Let's see through an objective prism as to how this party has fared and if the party really gives that hope for which it stood in the election and won. Delhi is probably one of those cities in India where corruption has penetrated every aspect of life and touches everyone. It is also one of its kind cities in India where there is no respect for breaking any law and no fear of accountability. These attitudes plague every city in India but strongly so in Delhi. This is the precise wavelength with which Kejriwal's agenda resonated Delhite's hearts. He transferred corrupt officials of the Delhi Jal Board and put in new officials. He also ordered an audit into prices of power companies so as to look into spike in electricity bills. He started a unique helpline that guides people to expose corrupt officials and make them available to the whole world. He ensured a fear is created amongst officials from taking a bribe. These things are welcome but not adequate to confirm the party's stand on several issues. The fact that AAP is planning to start SIT (Special Investigation Team) to probe into 1984 riots is a huge welcome move.

Why is his party or government not thinking of policies that can increase power generation? Why isn't his government executing an action plan to ensure there is good supply of water to peripheral areas of Delhi? Why is the government not executing any steps to cleanse the city of illegal colonies, unauthorized constructions? All these are the foundations of clean governance. Corruption must be tackled simultaneously, but complete effort should not be directed in this direction.

Women's safety of which the party made a big issue and promised women police officers patrolling the streets of Delhi is no where seem to be fulfilled. Recently rape cases that happened under his vigil highlight the pathetic betrayal of promises that the party made. The party is no different than other parties when it comes to taking populist measures such as subsidized water, or electricity. All parties give freebies, subsidized rate utility supplies, etc. How is it different from other parties? Why should a party depend upon freebies when the supply of utilities itself is incomplete and inadequate? 

One cannot dismiss and ignore the way in which the party sabotaged the city for just transferring 4 police officers who did not take action against the African women in Malviya Nagar. No matter how bad the crime the Law Minister of a government cannot take law into his hands and do what Mr. Bharti did. The internet is flooded with videos, transcripts, CCTv surveillance recordings, pictures etc that clearly prove how Mr.Bharti behaved pretty much like Ram Sene or other organizations that claim to be cultural guardians of the society. Such racist remarks and untenable behavior is a great blot on the party. Adding to the fire is the statement by Kejriwal that nothing was wrong in what Mr. Bharti did. There can be no explanation or excuse that can be given to such misdemeanor in public discourse. The members of the party seem to be overly aggressive in tone and tenor. It is just sufficient to see what opinions the members carry. As an example the party's Kumar Vishwas makes racist comments against Kerala women, backtracks on statements in Amethi, Prashant Bhushan's unacceptable statements about Kashmir and several others raise great doubts about the trust one can have on this party. If the party doesn't have patience and perseverance it cannot sustain itself.

The entire episode in which Mr.Kejriwal hijacked the rehearsals just before Republic Day celebrations demonstrated one thing. That the party can resort to one old, granted and a given technique of Dharna and Satyagraha. They are now elected representatives and not street protestors. If people have given them chance to rule they cannot transition themselves onto them. There are negotiations, diplomatic ways and peaceful talks that they can resort to find ways to solve a problem.

Some of the more symbolic gestures make no difference to me. As an example giving up VIP culture or making laws and government work on the streets. They don't add any value to me. What adds value is what difference you make whether you run the government in the four corridors or outside. What does AAP want to prove by making legislations in the open? Kejriwal could have asked live telecast of proceedings in Delhi Assembly. The Parliament proceedings are anyways broadcasted live. There are several interesting, mind boggling, thought provoking discussions that happen in Parliament. These proceedings over a period of time have number of times shown how each MP behaves and how unruly each MP can become. There is no need to bring that drama to the streets. Such gestures, according to me, are useless symbols of showing that you are different.

AAP must remember they can't change a system that has been running for 65 years, although they can change the flow of governance in the systems which is what efficient administrators do.They can't brandish the very system of which they are part as evil and do nothing about it.  There are several ways of using technology to fix issues that affect the common man on a daily basis.

The party which wants to appeal to the people to not to vote for Congress or BJP should have clear articulated visions of foreign policy and economics. Both of which are absent. They don't even have a team that can guide them about these matters. Imagine if the party doesn't have patience to deal with country's neighbors and other countries of the world. Aggression and impatience doesn't work in international diplomacy. We live in truly complicated globalized world that requires immense planning and strategy to tackle them. Just by concentrating on corruption no party can give governance. At a national level AAP is truly unprepared and amateurish. No matter how much we criticize, love or hate Congress and BJP - it is only these parties that have the complete expertise to deal with complex geopolitical realities and adapt policies that suit such circumstances.

The party simply cannot have a pan India appeal until it proves its worthy of it. Simply by adding Sonia Gandhi, Modi, and others to corrupt party list and then propagating it won't fetch any votes. It is important that AAP proves itself in Delhi before dreaming big. 

Further, AAP claims it has more members than it can finalize for contesting 350 Lok Sabha seats. It is not a cakewalk. Many parts of India are choosy at a national level to elect a new party.

Two months is still a small time for a new party to be judged, but absence of patience and maturity will not win them any seats outside National Capital Region and it is a reality that AAP must accept and mend its ways. Ruling Delhi and ruling India are totally different worlds. AAP must set its eyes completely on Delhi.

Reforming political system requires institutional changes and not aggressive posturing. Aggressive posturing works as long as the person leading it is in command. Once the person leaves everything is back to square one. An institutional change on the other is more effective and tends to be permanent.

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