The Aam Aadmi Party had immensely benefited by launching a vilification campaign against its opponents and promised a culture of righteousness. Ironically, its own leaders have ganged up against the party resorting to mud slinging. It was then that trial by media began which without substantiating the charges went gaga with sacked minister, Kapil Mishra’s allegations. For Kejriwal, it must be a déjà vu moment as he had built a career by hurling un-substantiated accusations at political opponents. If the allegations are to be believed on the face value, Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal took 2 crore in cash from Health Minister Satyendra Jain after a 50 crore land deal was settled for a relative of the Chief Minister. Satyendra Jain is currently under CBI scanner.
The allegations come after party’s poor performance in recently held Municipal Corporation elections where BJP swept the poll thanks to the vote catching prowess of the Modi-Shah combine. AAP’s display of snags in Electronic Voting Machines has led to animated discussions that Arvind Kejriwal and AAP are losing sheen and are finding excuses for their failures. Many have jumped to the conclusion that the party may not even last its full term in Delhi. To add to its woes, the party after losing the battle in Punjab and Goa is staring at serious crisis as some fresh appointments in Punjab have angered a major section of the party. There are rumours in the corridors of power that at least 11 of its recently elected legislators are in touch with the Congress and Bharatiya Janta Party. Convener of AAP in Punjab, Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi has resigned from the primary membership of the party couple of days after he was replaced by party leader and comedian Bhagwant Mann alleging that the party had ditched its ideas. He alleged that the entire process of appointment of the new state chief was “fake and unfair” and the party had adopted a “pick and choose policy”. Meanwhile, Mann has expelled Upkar Singh Sandhu who was the party candidate for Amritsar Lok Sabha bypoll from AAP for anti party activities.
The result is that questions are already being raised if AAP Government would last its full term in Delhi? Will the party disintegrate?
AAP’s comeback ability
Still jumping to hasty conclusions and attempting an obituary for AAP and its leader Arvind Kejriwal, just based on the outcome of MCD elections, charges of corruption and misgivings among Punjab leadership would be a figment of imagination of some because the party has tremendous comeback ability. We all know that AAP came as a movement against corruption and raised expectations of masses but saying that it is out forever would be wrong. Although Anti Corruption Crusader, Anna Hazare was strictly against entering electoral politics, Kejriwal assured his supporters that if they were to change the way the political leaders think and act, they themselves had to enter politics. As a result an army of such like-minded people who wanted to become politicians to change the fate of nation got together. Not in agreement, Anna Hazare confined himself to Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra. However, what went wrong for Kejriwal from day one was that he entered the political playground with the sole intention of winning. In the process, AAP compromised on the very principles on which it rode to power. Many of his ministers and MLAs were booked in cases of land grab, extortion, wife bashing and so on. It is here that Kejriwal committed a series of mistakes. He sacked Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, two of the four MPs in Punjab turned against him and divergent opinion was curbed. All this filled negative perception in the public mind that all was not well with the party that was supposed to offer panacea to all the ills of society. The situation has culminated to a level that now even Kejriwal finds himself embroiled in allegations of corruption.
Many people who spoke to this writer observed that it would be almost necessary to have a party like AAP in mainstream politics. However, they agreed that party had lost connect with the masses and it needs to resurrect itself. Its critics should remember that the party was still able to get over 25 percent votes in MCD.
Past record of AAP shows that after being routed in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls during Modi juggernaut by drawing a blank in Delhi, the party won 67 Assembly seats out of a total 70 in Delhi. All AAP needs to do is to go to masses and its core vote bank comprising middle class, lower middle class and poor instead of Modi bashing and putting blame for everything that does not work in Delhi on Centre. Even when the MCD results began pouring in, the Aam Aadmi Party blamed EVMs and reacted that “ It isn’t a Bharatiya Jatnata Party wave but an EVM wave”. Time is running out for AAP and the party has to concentrate on delivery and show Delhi as an example of good governance. It could be the question of women safety, better roads, promised Wi-Fi zones and corruption free government.
Filling the vacuum
Focus area for AAP would be introspection as to why friends of Kejriwal had left him. It could be top leaders like Dr Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan in Delhi or Dr Dharamvir Gandhi in Punjab. Whether it was result of the style of functioning of Kejriwal or lack of internal democracy in party or both is anybody’s guess? AAP is a product of anti-corruption movement and this party promises alternative politics based on clean governance. It was happening at a time when Modi Model of Development in Gujarat was making waves. It may again be a co-incidence that both the AAP and Narendra Modi emerged on the national scenario almost at same time. It was time of reformation in India’s national politics. Both campaigned against corruption, exposed scams during the UPA regime and promised to ameliorate the sufferings of common people. This was the space that BJP and AAP could capture. It is here that the green horn AAP failed while Modi-Amit Shah duo emerged victorious to grab the space and fill the vacuum. It is time AAP finds its moorings and fills the vacuum.