At the very outset, let met wish our readers prosperity and happiness for the year 2014. Having said this, I come to the political development in Delhi, where, after days of political standoff, the Aam Aadmi Party formed the government. With Arvind Kejriwal’s political brain-storming meetings paying off, a new whiff of political affairs will sweep Delhi. The masses are waiting for a political momentum after being witness to a long moratorium. Maybe, AAP has done well to take the decision to form a government in Delhi, though after much reluctance, people will now see how Kejriwal musters the resources to fulfil several promises he has made. He will soon realise that many assurances he has given can be difficult to meet because of paucity of funds and administrative reasons. He, therefore, faces a big challenge—on both the financial and executive fronts. So, AAP should roll up its sleeves to grapple with the challenges of converting its promises into action and maintaining political stability. But the Congress, with whose support it formed the government, is a doublespeak entity—it first decrees unconditional support to AAP but later says that it will offer only conditional support. I do believe that now is the true test of AAP. But at the same time, what about the sentiments of the people, who had voted for AAP just to make sure that the Congress is never going to be in power? The point here is that AAP garnered many of votes only by claiming that the Congress was corrupt, and it did not focus on the BJP much. While AAP was staging demonstrations, the then Sheila Dikshit government did everything possible to eradicate its movements. But now the tables have turned and the Congress and AAP are together for the formation of the government. A large number of voters must have voted for AAP because of the simple reason that Kejriwal is stubborn in a good way by not taking anyone’s support. He believed in coming to power by absolute majority. Had he announced that he would take support to form the government from anyone, then people would have thought that he could take support of the Congress too. Hence, it would have turned out to be self-destruction for AAP. So, isn’t there a double standard? AAP had categorically stated that it represented alternative politics. It is guided by idealism. It will neither support nor accept support from either the Congress or the BJP. But how does AAP justify a volte face, where it seems to be compromising on its commitments of alternative politics? Obviously, political opportunism should have no place in alternative politics, dictated by idealism. Is this the beginning of the alternative politics or the end of it? For, the Congress cannot afford its vulnerabilities to be exposed in various scams that have happened during its rule in Delhi. On the slightest threat to itself, which will come when the AAP regime goes after those scams, the Congress won’t think twice about pulling the plug. That will be the end of the AAP rule in Delhi. Then what?
If I say that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is not new, then no one should be amazed. West Bengal had actually seen the AAP-style rule under a different name for 34 years. The recipe was the same—anger against a Congress government, fake promises about energy, food and water to a migrant population struggling to make ends meet in the big city and apparently an agenda to curb corruption. Against this backdrop, I have serious disquiet regarding its economic policies. While on the face of it, reducing electricity tariffs by half, and providing 700 litres of free water per household daily are extremely desirable goals, it’s doubtful whether such promises can be implemented, unless there are serious underlying distortions in the economic pricing models. Broadly, whatever economic pronouncements have been made seems to hint at a significant expansion of various subsidies, which the state budget can ill afford. This remains a serious concern. We need to wait for additional facts to emerge before making a final call. For, the architects of the AAP’s brilliantly populist manifesto for Delhi, one suspects, are part of Lutyen’s Delhi’s self-proclaimed secular brigade. They emphasise distribution rather than generation, they emphasise immediacy rather than sustainability and they lay stress on variety rather than frugality. Indeed, to an idle observer, AAP pretty much seems like a political party of its own sans the pulls and pressure of aam aadmi. To me, Kejriwal epitomises all that is wrong with Indian politics. That is saying something when you consider that Indian politics is riddled with stupidity, dynastic succession, public corruption, insane populism, crude factionalism, blatant pandering, naked dishonesty, extreme selfishness, myopia and other repulsive features. The major concern that I have with AAP and its leadership relates to its agenda. Kejriwal’s basic mindset is not too different from the mindset of those whom he appears to be fighting against. The ones in power got there on the same promise to people—deliverance from the misery of daily existence—and here is AAP going to deliver the people from the control of a rapacious government. Hence, after a deeper took at Arvind Kejriwal’s nascent party, one can describe it as an activist, who is not connected with the ground reality. There is a rumour that AAP is on its way to create a roadblock for Narendra Modi, but how capable is it is yet to be seen. But, now the BJP has to play a clean card ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in ticket distribution. Otherwise, the sab-janta (well-informed) voters would through away the tainted-image lot of the BJP.