Only hope for India: a new avatar of the party with real leaders.
By Sujeet Rajan
NEW YORK: The wannabe-alchemist who promised to turn India into a corruption free zone but became mired in ultra-nationalistic aspirations, the megalomaniac who kicked the chair of a chief minister to daydream of becoming the prime minister, the gentle crusader turned aggressive abomination of Delhi, is sulking, truculent perhaps, of his decision, not willing to accept the fact: the 15 minutes of fame of Arvind Kejriwal is over.
With the quicksand downfall of Kejriwal – in his muffled (sorry, muffler-wrapped) head, in his ‘perchance to dream’ existence, it’s not quicksand though; for him, it’s just being taken by a twister, transplanted to the base of a cumulus cloud, where he purviews earth, specifically India, from a regal position. The coffin of the Aam Aadmi Party is ready, however, measuring 1,997 miles x 1,860 miles – the length and breadth of India.
The death of the party is inevitable, post May, once the results of the Lok Sabha elections are out.
There are many factors for the party’s imminent demise.
Let’s start with the party’s fascination for divisive and delusional leaders to lead their ilk, elements who are definitely scarier than horror movies that come out of Hollywood stables, forget the Ram Gopal Varma mold. The party has a tendency to keep these shining gems from saying corrosive words before elections, to scurry some off out of sight once they enter the realm of ignominy.
Like the misogynist-out-of-hell Somnath Bharti, who in his new role as a neta, went hunting African women at midnight with a mosquito net, to grab prostitutes, drugs and condoms; give orders for cavity searches, make those poor women urinate in public; the vague factionist Prashant Bhushan who would give away Kashmir to whoever wants it with a referendum; that ‘shandaar’ lumpen poet Kumar Vishwas (‘shandaar’ because let’s face it, he hates dark complexioned girls, loves pristine gori goris), the sinister Yogendra Yadav – he gives the absolute creeps, the way he talks in a silken, matter-of-fact, polite, polished way, embellishing khap panchayats, that they are ok, it’s ok for those village honchos to give orders to murder, gang rape in the open girls who run away with lovers, ostracize families.
And then there is Kejriwal himself, whose solution was to transfer police officers after a dharna to protect Bharti in the name of protesting against a woman from Denmark who got brutally gang raped on the streets of Delhi; become the baap of Mayawati in that aspect of punishing errant officers who don’t listen to orders, the grand misogynist who favors Yadav’s viewpoint on khaps and Bharti’s terrorist attack on residents of Delhi; the hypocrite who kept harping in public about wanting a small house to live unlike his predecessors, but demanded two of the biggest bungalows in Delhi, side by side, one for his office, in private. Who relishes anarchy in politics, prefers that to rule and reform.
When he finally quit, the egoistical Kejriwal – who relishes complete obedience from his inner coterie, including the likes of Manish Sisodia – was not thinking of the abdication of 28 Assembly seats. The cost of another election in a country which can ill afford to waste a liter of water, forget the more than 200 crores it would cost for another Assembly elections in Delhi. He was thinking of 280 seats he might win in the Lok Sabha polls.
But this column is not about the follies of the Aam Aadmi Party, and the coward who ran from the ruins (sorry, reins) of Delhi, Kejriwal. It’s to reflect on Shakespeare’s immortal words, ‘perchance to dream’ – of an after-life for the AAP; of an avatar of the party who may actually one day do a good job of running the country.
The party in its existing format is not going to survive. There is splintering of base support – like the formation of the Gareeb Aadmi Party in Delhi; erosion of public confidence and trust after the Delhi debacle, and an uneasy amalgamation of grass-root activists of the displaced and the poor, like Medha Patkar (though Manipur’s Irom Chanu Sharmila refused offers to join the party post Kejriwal’s default as CM) contesting elections, who are going to have to be on the same platform as the likes of Bharti and Yadav.
Till now, the AAP has been confined in their cabal rule only in Delhi, but there is bound to be intense friction once the fair-minded come to terms with the real intentions of the party’s inner coterie of leaders. Dissidents like Binny quit seeking higher office, was a trivial issue all along; people like Patkar will however, quit in disgust. The eclectic mix of personalities will work only as a catalyst for despair, destruction. Change for the worse.
But the one thing that most Indian voters agree on is to stem, end corruption. Anna Hazare and his ward Kejriwal has given that glimmer of hope. That beacon of hope must not be lost. It has to be taken forward, honed, till the party, or a party named something else but with the same ideals, finds a leader capable of doing that. It’s not Kejriwal though. India has to wait patiently for the real deal.
Kejriwal’s downfall is a big blow to India’s middle class. Not to the young voters as much – who still nurture hopes of a miracle – but to the ageing, and the aged voters in India. For them, endemic corruption had become matter-of-fact. Kejriwal had provided a glimmer of hope. That hope has dissipated, is over. Some continue to posture, to keep faith with Kejriwal’s ideals, but know only too well, that they have been fooled by a consummate engineer-turned bureaucrat-turned-politician, who only wanted absolute power, without consideration for proper governance and quality of life reform.
It’s important for NRIs in the United States to understand that the AAP is not yet dead, that by giving donations to them it will sustain more leaders like Bharti, help them flourish, spread their tentacles of hatred further make inroads into India’s vulnerable populace.
The idea of elections is not to pitch underdogs against seasoned politicians for an upset victory, but by solid groundwork, to belong there by hard work for the cause of the people. The way it’s going – Shazia Ilmi against Sonia Gandhi, ‘Shandaar’ Vishwas against Rahul Gandhi, Kejriwal against Narendra Modi (if Modi fights outside of Gujarat that is), it seems the cricket betting mafia might soon turn to elections, as it seems to be way more interesting than pitching odds of Zimbabwe against India or Kenya against Australia.
Muslim and Sikh groups in the US may have deep grouse against the BJP and the Congress, but it’s important to know that one of the first people who reacted to the rise of the AAP, and perhaps gauged the desperation of the common voters of India for change, was the extremist Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, who said that it was not the AAP, but the MNS which was the ‘real’ Aam Aadmi Party. Perhaps he understood the ultra-nationalistic Hindu vision of the AAP, read beyond their mantra of a Lokapal Bill to fool the people.
What one does not want is to put people like Kejriwal, Bharti, Vishwas, Bhushan and Yadav in power nationally, to have them come with a posse to your door one night. It was African women earlier. Tomorrow night, might be Muslim and Sikh women.
Kejriwal’s 49 days in power, less than it takes for nasturtiums to bloom, cherry tomatoes to grow, is enough of a glimpse to see the hatred that can be sowed in a short time. Delhi and India does not need it anymore.
(Sujeet Rajan is the Editor-in-Chief of The American Bazaar)
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