THE arrival of 2015 observed a new churning on the political horizon of India. Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP outfit captured the throne of Delhi with a thumping majority of 67 out of 70 MLAs. But the subsequent squabble between Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan and Prof. Anand Kumar is a sordid saga within a party which professed to bring in swaraj in Delhi and India. This has sparked a debate whether political parties run or dominated by individuals are becoming intolerant of sane voices; whether it is Mayawati, Jayalalithaa, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Prakash Singh Badal, or even the Congress or BJP-all are under the sway of intolerance. This is the beginning of a dangerous trend. The speaking up of sane voices in a democratic set-up is akin to oxygen for the body. In 2013, when AAP was constituted, it promised to eradicate corruption and institute a new political system of governance where the common man could contribute in government. People felt relieved; finally a party had surfaced which encouraged open debate. But the way the AAP leadership is quarrelling with Kejriwal being unable to contain them, the party is heading towards a crash. Whether Yadav and his associates have raised pertinent questions about the accounts and internal democracy within AAP is debatable but the common man’s faith in Kejriwal’s leadership has been shattered.
When the Congress launched the freedom movement in the 1930s, the party had stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sardar Patel, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Rajendra Prasad, and Jawaharlal Nehru. They were members of the intelligentsia, who had studied abroad and returned to wrest swaraj from the British. They had powerful personalities; differences of opinion did prevail but fundamentally they worked towards the goal of independence. Who are the close political associates of Kejriwal? None, except Manish Sisodia, who is his close friend but is Kejriwal’s yesman. Kejriwal has, in fact, fought with every known face that has worked with him in the past three years. Have the people of Delhi committed a mistake by choosing Kejriwal without analysing his track record?
When the people elected Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, they observed a track record (which may be debated) of the past 15 years. But, in Kejriwal’s case, the people of Delhi leapt to support him, without even checking the antecedents of the team. If Kejriwal is proud that his party’s absolute mandate is because the people trusted him on his policies, he is mistaken. The mandate was the result of a tacit understanding by all political parties to defeat the BJP by all means and Kejriwal was the best available political alternative. If he believes that he can manage the governance of Delhi with only Sisodia’s help, he is wrong. Out of 67 MLAs, 55 have reportedly been adjusted politically in the government by allotting them the post of political secretary and other advisory assignments for availing of the facilities due to a minister. Kejriwal is attempting to pacify his MLAs while promising swaraj to Delhi. If one interacts with AAP MLAs or ministers, it is shocking to see that, except for being loyal to Kejriwal, they have little idea of governance.
Running both a party and government is a herculean task. No single man can run the show without taking along his political colleagues and the party. Intolerance of political opponents is an easy way out; the difficult task is to work along with them. Kejriwal has to understand that he is not an individual now but a symbol of the aspirations of the people who are clamouring for change. He has to build AAP as a more vibrant, democratic and tolerant party of committed, intelligent personalities who can walk with him to ameliorate the condition of society and provide an alternative in a milieu comprising the BJP, Congress and other political outfits.