AAP Ki Anarchy
As I write this, Delhi is witnessing the ridiculous spectacle of its Chief Minister sitting on a dharna to force the central government to concede his most unreasonable and dangerous demands of suspending some police officers who did not carry out the order of his law minister the other day. His law minister, who had demanded not long ago that all the judges in Delhi lower courts must come to his place to understand his vision (A lawyer by profession, he apparently had been reprimanded once by the Delhi High Court for tempering with evidence in a case he was fighting for), had collected a mob and a media contingent at midnight and then ordered the local police officers to conduct a raid into the houses of some Africans without search warrants. The police predictably did not agree to carry out this illegal order. The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is furious and argues that if its minister decided that there was a prima facie case against anybody, it was enough for the police to arrest him or her and leave the matter to the court to decide subsequently whether he or she is guilty.
The gravity of this argument is simply mind boggling. If the AAP theory is made a precedent, then a ruling party member can always get you arrested any time and the police will enter your house any time on mere “suspicion”. You have to then employ a lawyer to argue about your innocence in a court, a process that could take years to conclude. Such is the “suraj” (good governance) by the AAP under the chief-ministership of Arvind Kejriwal.
But then at the risk of being unpopular, let me venture to say that people of Delhi had not voted for Kejriwal to provide good governance. Kejriwal’s was essentially a pressure group, distinct form a political party. This pressure group was championing a worthy cause against corruption. He became, thanks to his mentor, Anna Hazare, a symbol against corruption. Of course, along side this campaign against the corruption, Kejriwal promised to provide the people of Delhi free water and cheap electricity. Put together, these three constituted a terrific combination for getting votes, which the AAP did. However, ironically, on all these three fronts, Kejriwal has failed miserably so far.
Whatever, his supporters in the media, for whom there is no news in India these days other than Kejriwal and AAP, may say, the fact remains that as the Chief Minister, Kejriwal has not taken a single step to find out , let alone prosecute, who are the people who made money during the Commonwealth Games. He has not brought down the electricity tariffs in Delhi considerably, because despite his diatribes against the private power suppliers in Delhi, the fact remains that rates of the electricity in the national capital are determined by Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC), a government body and that these private distributors buy power from central government-owned power plants and neighboring governments of Himachal, Haryana and Uttarakhand. Power suppliers say that they cannot sell electricity at a lesser rate than what they buy at and spend in distribution. That means that any substantial tariff reduction will imply the Kejriwal government deciding to subsidise the power for the consumers but paying the subsidised amounts to the suppliers from the state exchequer. Of course, he can always go for de-privatisation, which not only will mean a hell lot of money for buying out the infrastructures and establishments back from the suppliers but also prolonged power cuts and power thefts that marked Delhi when the state government was in charge for distribution of power.
Now let us talk of water. Kejriwal’s decision of providing about 700 liters of free water every day to a family has angered more Delhiites than those it has helped. For one, many homes in Delhi are not connected to the water-supply grid. For another, the poorer sections of Delhi, who have usually bigger families, consume more than 700 liters; but they, as per Kejriwal government’s decision, will pay for every litre and a surcharge tax. One does not understand why the AAP government did not decide to charge every Delhiites only for the excess water consumed above 700 litres. This would have satisfied all. Let me add something personal here. I happen to be the President of one of the bigger Housing Societies of Delhi, which has 250 families. Kejriwal’s water scheme is really insulting to us. Because Delhi’s 1600-odd Housing Societies, in which nearly 10 lakh people live, have been kept outside the purview of new water laws. Water is supplied to the Societies through one bulk metre and the recovery is 100 per cent. But these law abiding residents, who were at the front while campaigning for the AAP in the last elections, have been badly let down by the AAP government.
But then, as I have said, people of Delhi did not vote for the AAP to necessarily form a government. In any case, the AAP did not get majority of the seats in the Delhi Assembly; nor did it get majority of the votes (It got only 29 per cent of votes; that means that 71 per cent of Delhiites did not support it). But what the people of Delhi did was that by giving AAP respectability and the hype, they gave a notice to the established political parties that they were not happy with them. They warned the established political parties that they may no longer be allowed to continue with business as usual by making politics family fiefdoms or exclusivist dens where money, muscle and passions for community (be it religion or caste) played a huge role. In fact, the most positive feature of the AAP’s victory was that its candidates proved that one could win elections without money, muscle, caste and religion.
Ironically, however, the AAP, now that it has become a ruling party, has failed to live up to expectations. And that is precisely because, AAP is neither a coherent party; nor does it have reasoned vision for India. Just look at the persons who are today either leading AAP or supporting it. Kejriwal might have been a relatively fresh face in the country’s social and political life, but what about the likes of Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, Aruna Roy, Medha Patkar, Gopal Rai and Kamal Mitra Chenoy? All of them have been Marxists of some persuasion or the other, including Maoism (Yogendra Yadav is a socialist). Their ideas on various aspects of India are highly dangerous. Bhushan wants referendum in Kashmir. Yadav wants 80 per cent in reservation of jobs and education on caste basis. Left to herself Medha Patkar, who will be contesting Parliamentary elections on an AAP ticket, there must be a stop to all developmental activities in the country. Aruna Roy thinks that the State’s main job is to distribute goodies, not pursue growth. And now, one hears the controversial SP Uday Kumar, whose agitation delayed unnecessarily the nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu and severely affected Indo-Russian ties, has joined the AAP.
With such people from dubious backgrounds around (in fact, most of them have been funded by foreign organisations such as Ford Foundation; see http://prof-vaidyanathan.com/2014/01/13/is-india-safe-what-is-ford-foundation), will Kejriwal allow India to be a stable and prosperous democracy? I have my doubts. He and other anarchist friends have no real visions for economy, defence and foreign policy. Even Kejriwal’s proposed Jan Lokpal to combat corruption will give rise to anarchy and further the scope for corruption by creating a monstrous body of 33 lakh “super employees” of the Lokpal (to be sustained by the already over-bureaucratised State) who will have power at the slightest pretext to undo every developmental work in the name of stopping corruption. This enormous power to the Lokpal will give its own officials a lot of opportunities to be corrupt themselves; for a price they can always overlook various acts of omission and commission.
The best way to eradicate poverty is to go to the roots of the problem. And that problem is essentially the present electoral system where success is dependent on identity politics on the one hand and the entrenched politician-criminal-business- bureaucratic nexus on the other. Thus, the key is to bring out electoral reforms. Unfortunately, Kejriwal does not inspire much confidence on this front. He has not said anything so far how to set right India’s dysfunctional politics that is making our polity increasingly less and less representative (growth of political dynasties everywhere, caste and community-centred politics, and sky-touching electoral expenditures).
And despite all these limitations, if the AAP really does well electorally, then that will be due to the sheer inability and lack of idea on the part of the Bharatiya Janata Party under the leadership of Narendra Modi. All told, the Congress has already given up; its leaders openly pray for the success of AAP in the next general elections to stop the juggernaut of Modi. In other words, if the situation so arises then the Congress will not hesitate to support an AAP-led government at the Centre of a “Third Front” (non-UPA), at least from outside. In that sense, a vote for AAP is a vote for the Congress in the ultimate analysis.
After all, Kejriwals’s present state government is supported by the Congress unconditionally. Even if the Congress withdraws its support now, it does not mean that it will not support an AAP-led coalition at the Centre in May. After all, most of the AAP-Leftists mentioned above have had excellent ties with the Congress establishment. All of them have enjoyed the largesse given by the Congress. Even Kejriwal has been on record to have said that India’s ablest Prime Minister so far has been Rajiv Gandhi, who, in his opinion, understood India the best.
By Prakash Nanda