AAP has lost confidence of support base

Amulya Ganguli

A fraudulent political exercise under a self-confessed anarchist is coming to an end. The writing on the wall on the withering away of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) was seen in the Punjab and Goa polls. Now, the prognosis has been virtually confirmed by its resounding defeat in New Delhi’s Rajouri Garden by-election where the AAP candidate lost his deposit. It is now fairly certain that defeat stares the party in the face in the forthcoming Delhi municipal polls.
Arguably, it will mark the beginning of the end for the party which appeared on the scene in the wake of the anti-corruption movement orchestrated in the last days of the Manmohan Singh government by the Maharashtrian maverick, Anna Hazare. His, too, was a short-lived endeavour to remould politics in line with his then acolyte Kiran Bedi’s chant – Anna is India, India is Anna.
The fading out of Anna’s movement led to his disciples repositioning themselves with some like Bedi joining the BJP while Arvind Kejriwal formed his own party, the AAP. The latter’s professed objective was to carry on from where Anna had left off – to cleanse the system with the help of the knights in shining armour who constituted the new party led by Kejriwal himself.
Their vociferous claims of ushering in a new era in politics received a resounding endorsement from the people of Delhi in the 2015 assembly elections when the AAP won a remarkable 67 of the 70 seats. A year earlier, the party won four out of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab with 24.4 per cent of the votes, coming first in 34 of the 117 assembly segments. But that was to be its highest point in the state where its tally fell to 20 seats in the recent assembly elections.
The reason for the AAP’s decline is its overhyped presentation of itself as superior to its opponents. But the balloon had stated deflating soon after its success in the Delhi assembly elections when Kejriwal exposed himself as insecure and vindictive by expelling two of the party’s stalwarts – Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan – on the all-too-familiar charge of anti-party activities which a would-be dictator tends to use against those who refuse to follow his orders.
At the time of the expulsions of Yadav and Bhushan, Admiral L. Ramdas, the former navy chief who was the AAP’s internal ombudsman, was also evicted, showing that the plank on which Anna and Kejriwal had mobilized their supporters by promising establishing the institution of the Lokpal was a hollow one. Other prominent figures like Justice Santosh Hegde also left the party, accusing Kejriwal of not doing anything about corruption, a charge which has again been made by an AAP member, Kumar Vishwas.
It is now obvious that for all of Kejriwal’s holier-than-thou pretensions, the IIT engineer is not only an ordinary mortal like all other self-serving politicians, but perhaps even more “power hungry”, to use Anna’s characterization of him, than most of those in public life. His mistake, however, was that he was in too much of a hurry to get ahead as the fielding of 434 candidates in the last parliamentary election showed, for he evidently believed in the context of the support he was getting at the time that he had a fair chance of becoming the prime minister.
In the 2015 Delhi elections, his bluster befooled the electorate to give him an exceptionally large mandate. But that display of trust may have proved to be the cause of his downfall as well, for it only made his failure to deliver as a chief minister all the more stark.
Instead of paying attention to the nitty-gritty of the job at hand, Kejriwal’s entire focus was on expanding the ambit of his power by demanding full statehood for Delhi and clashing with the Lt. Governor and the Centre almost on a daily basis, which made the former Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde call him a “yeda” chief minister – a colourful Marathi term which can mean anything from eccentric to crazy.
The yeda factor has been evident from Kejriwal’s propensity to make exaggerated allegations against those he does not like, a habit which has landed him in a defamation case involving finance minister Arun Jaitley. Now, he has accused the Election Commission of acting like Dhritarashtra in being blind to the BJP’s machinations.
Vaulting ambition and easy early successes probably made Kejriwal believe that he had found the key to political glory – expelling putative rivals within the party and levelling wild charges against other politicians (who generally do not have a high reputation as a class) were his formulae for advancement.
He did not seem to have realized that a leader must be patently honest, sober and sincere, capable of articulating a long-term vision and showing a willingness to work with members of his own party as well as those outside in order to reach a stated goal. A querulous person can only have a short political shelf life. (IPA)

Monday, 24 April, 2017