And Now AAP Getting Into Groove For National Role Irks Rivals

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Riding on the wave of an unexpected spectacular electoral success in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) now seems set for changing gear as also its course and is all set to run on the national highways. It was barely 10 days ago when AAP despite falling well short of majority found itself catapulted into the seat of power in Delhi that left all those in the rival political parties seen rubbing their eyes in utter disbelief. And the one that extended ‘unconditional’ support to it from outside, now finds itself precariously placed to continue doing so in order to protect its own political interests basically.

Politics, it is said, at times, finds strange- bed-fellows and the Delhi experiment only further serves to substantiate this point.

Having tasted the blood, AAP’s appetite now seems unsatiated. A couple of days ago when it unfolded plans to expand its wings – a little too early in the day, however – the alarm bells have, nonetheless, started sounding noisily all over. Those in rival camps find themselves none too comfortable and are seen raising issues and questioning AAP’s credentials for its purported national role.

The other day (6-7 Jan’14), listening to panellists representing stakeholders (read political parties), among others, on various TV news channels and to those anchoring debates on AAP throwing its hat in the ring for upcoming 2014 General Elections, seemed, in essence, a sort of a brain storming session to find answers to the ills India is currently confronted with – nationally and internationally. In effect, however, it wasn’t close to anywhere near it; it seemed, instead, an attempt to browbeat the new kid on the block.

A visible sign of discomfort and uncertainties seemed to be gripping the rival veteran political parties for the way they reacted, responded and posed questions, like:

  • Where does AAP stand on national issues?
  • AAP’s referendum policy – how far can it go?
  • What’s AAP’s national vision?
  • Now that AAP is going national, can it remain with a single issue –that’s corruption-free India alone?
  • AAP shouldn’t get carried away by media-driven euphoria; Delhi is not India

Apparently, sudden bombardment of a volley of questions kept posing problems aplenty to those assigned to field them on AAP’s behalf on the panel. The fact, moreover, also remains that many other similar questions are being hurled outside the confines of the TV studios as well, day in and day out, ever since its foray on the national stage were spelled out. The political newbie may not find it easy anyway to get around and try answering them convincingly. AAP’s national ambitions, many say, is a decision taken in a little too haste.

However, viewed in the backdrop of AAP’s pre-written script, its move to give it a shot at the national level, now that the one at Delhi has paid it some rich dividend, may simply seem a natural corollary. Right since its inception a little more than a year ago, it’s been advocating for a corruption-free India and the context of getting involved in Delhi elections was a baby step. Delhiites (nearly 30% of them)  coming out to hold baby’s hand to help it assist in standing up and walking along a path, has boosted the morale and resolve of this new kid.

AAP Party

AAP’s progress so far, however, needs to be appraised from a different perspective as well. Viewed closely, it may appear it’s much more beyond what AAP and Arvind Kejriwal are perceived to have achieved that’s visible to all. It’s actually the triumph of a political philosophy, political mannerism and above all, a political thought (‘Vichardhara’) that have captured the imaginations of all and sundries – post-Delhi elections. AAP has redefined the political scenario, altered the political discourse – all seemingly pointing to the way forward for healthier, inclusive, participatory and vibrant Indian democracy.

Shunning VIP culture, promoting transparency in electoral politics and processes, embracing anti-graft attitude and approach – all are the new found (or re-discovered) phenomena that should have otherwise been well accepted earlier and firmly ingrained in India’s democratic polity by now.

AAP’s mannerism has already started showing signs of getting emulated by other established political parties and personalities. BJP’s Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia preferring to do away with bunglow and related paraphernalia; Congress ruled Haryana and Maharashtra going ahead with proposals for reducing electricity tariff; and UP’s Akhilesh Yadav ordering for scaling down his security cordon – all seem to be the steps that were perhaps unimaginable till a month ago. Only the other day, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, while addressing a public meeting ‘proudly’ claiming that once his mother used to wash dishes in the neighbourhood, may apparently be seen as an attempt- or perhaps a ploy – to get connected with the Aam Aadmi.

AAP’s ambition and aspirations for carving out its role at the national stage, coming as they do close on the wheels of the Delhi saga, may have irked its rivals for reasons more than one. But the fact remains that it was destined to follow this path given the way it got the shot in the arm so early in the day. And for the simple reason that the General Elections 2014 to follow soon, it would have been unwise to wait till the next one in 2019. AAP’s agenda of corruption-free India, ‘Inclusive’ and ‘Participatory’ democracy and efficient and effective governance, administration and delivery system – all are targeted to be established in the Indian political system. And this explains why AAP is raring to go national the way it is.

Before leaving this page, however, a word or two about the AAP government in Delhi. The way people’s imaginations have been stirred- up, hopes and aspirations of millions all over have been aroused, expectations of sort of quick-fix solutions and faster deliverance have now become the clamour with each passing day, the task at hand is apparently cut out for the new government. In the process, however, one often tends to forget or ignore that all these first timers- like any other first timers in other arenas – need to go through a period of learning curve before start performing and delivering. AAP team is no exception. One, nevertheless, only hopes that this learning curve is the shortest one possible; also, no serious slippages or faltering – willingly or otherwise – block or thwart its bid for cleansing the malaise and aberrations the Indian political system has come to be inflicted with lately. Give AAP a chance for a reasonable period, say, a few months, before knives are out against it actually.

No matter AAP succeeds or stumbles in its efforts, one only wishes and prays that Indian democracy gets on to the path and ways that may pave way for Indians to hold their heads high  in the midst of the world community.

Jai Hind!!

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Narendra Bhagat

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A retired I.A.S. officer, Mr. Narendra Bhagat spends part of his time to blog and write for our magazine. He has authored two books.


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