AAM Aadmi Party’s Adventurism!
It is an intoxicating blend, a bit of bravado, a bit of adventurism and a massive confidence in mass support. Ebullience in the Aam Aadmi Party in forming the government with the support, at best shaky, of Congress stems from this stimulating cocktail. The new Chief Minister of Delhi—seventh—Arvind Kejriwal is astute enough to realise that if the Congress withdraws support, on whatever justification, he would become a martyr while the Congress would lose whatever support or sympathy it had among the voters.
Even a day rule, like Chist’s, would give Kejriwal to show to the people that he is not only an aam aadmi but his policies are for the aam aadmi. Right from public swearing-in, refusal to have security and official bungalow designated for chief minister, holding meetings in public to implementing free 700 litres water to each household and reducing the electricity bills by 50 per cent are because of a combination of confidence in mass support, belief that implementation of most popular items of the manifesto would push up the public support for his party.
But there is a streak of adventurism too. Most experts believe that 700 litres of water to each household is not a viable policy, although AAP’s leaders claimed that they have made calculations and believe that the scheme is viable. In any case, AAP leaders have known it from day one that the support by Congress remains more ephemeral than a long-term solid help for them to run the government. This is why Kejriwal has tried from the first day after receiving assurance from the Congress of its support to show how plebeian chief minister he would be and then implementing almost with his public swearing-in, the most popular schemes.
So it would be advantage AAP if the Congress Party withdraws support and for the latter it could be the worst, rather disastrous, step. It might lose sympathy of voters who elected its eight candidates. Whoever advised Sonia Gandhi to offer unconditional support to AAP did not foresee that it would not only give an opportunity to Kejriwal to implement his popular schemes but also prove to the people of living even as chief minister, a Spartan life minus all the trappings of power. This support thus benefited AAP but brought no laurels to Congress. Longer the AAP government would last the voters’ support to Congress would be increasingly shrinking.
The more dangerous result of the support is a clear split in the Congress over the support to AAP. Any split could lead to desertion and that would be fatal for the Congress. Demonstrations before the party office and then mysterious visits of men in midnight and introducing themselves as representatives of the ‘High Command’ and then asking them to vote against the vote of confidence. This would be tabled on January 3. Who were these men? Who sent them? There would be a few sleepless nights among the strategists of the Congress.
These men could not have dared to visit MLAs and say that they have come on orders from the High Command without the backing of some powerful persons. Ultimately, this could lead to wider split and then to rebellion near the general elections. The Gandhis no longer have the charisma they had in the past and Congressmen also know that the Family cannot get them elected. This feeling could prove fatal for the Family. But it would surely lead to a sizeable exodus from the party as elections near.
This eventuality has been further boosted by the support to AAP. The advisers of Mrs Gandhi, knowingly or because of their stupidity, put the Gandhis in deep trouble. If the support is continued AAP would finish whatever vote-bank Congress has but if it withdraws Kejriwal would become a martyr. And his man who would stand against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi would get a forceful talking point. As it is reports are that voters in the constituency are quite unhappy with him.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has rightly kept itself away from the dealings and interaction between AAP and the Congress, said that ultimately by accepting the support of the Congress AAP has proved that it is B-Team of Congress. But Kejriwal remained unfazed. He is very good in explaining in a way to extricate himself from any sticky situation. He said he asked people what to do and overwhelming majority wanted that AAP should take support and prove that it can run the government and deliver its promises. This is why ‘we have accepted the outside support’, the Congress would not be part of the government.
The AAP government, even if it gets time to implement a few populist policies, would ensure itself as a major Third Party, and not a regional party. The Congress seems to be losing its primacy in both national and regional politics. Mulayam Singh, Lalu Yadav, Sharad Pawar, Nitish Kumar, Mayawati and smaller outfits in almost every state are no longer that important as they were in the last decade and even more. It is only Jayalalithaa who can win massively in Tamil Nadu but not anywhere else in the country. Mayawati could do well in Uttar Pradesh because she has a vote-bank of 18 per cent Dalits.
Mayawati’s venturing out to win in different states was in fact to become a national party. But people decided to keep it within the confines of Uttar Pradesh, whereas AAP, not being based on caste, religion or another sectarian consideration but on his pro-people 18-point programme, could make headway in different regions. This is what would make it the Third Party in national polity, somewhat akin to the Liberal Democrats in Britain which enjoyed power for quite some time. It is in power at the present in coalition with Tories.
Where does all this leave the BJP? It has conducted itself very wisely while the Congress decided to give outside support to AAP and the latter held a referendum whether to accept it or not. The latest programme and strategy announced by Narendra Modi, which combines traditional politics and the new wave started by AAP, could be the best to win the general elections.
The odds at present favour BJP at the national level and AAP in Delhi and in constituencies like Amethi. In fact, Kejriwal would do yeoman service if he joins the BJP government and makes it to serve the people on the lines of his programme.
By Vijay Dutt