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Thursday, May 29, 2014

My response to request for feedback from AAP (Aam Aadmi Party)

Today I got an email asking me for feedback on AAP (Aam Admi Party). The first question was

What would make you volunteer in future? What stopped you from volunteering this time? *
Give us as much detail as you'd like

I took the sub-text literally and a little seriously and wrote a really detailed answer. I thought I might as well put it up here and share with the world (or the one or two who actually read my blog.. :P ). Anyways here it goes :

Not interested in volunteering for AAP.

AAP as a party has acted in the most irresponsible, selfish and foolhardy manner ever since it formed the government in Delhi. People of Delhi whole heartedly supported AAP with the hope that they would get some real stable governance for the next 5 years. Instead what they got was utter chaos.

I expected changes like corruption free governance, no undue fiscal burden on the state, public works development, fulfillment of election promises for once, but all I got to see was a couple of filmy style sacking of corrupt officers, some agitation and finally a resignation just after 49 days. If that was not irresponsible then what is?

And what do you do after resigning? You forget Delhi altogether and try to become the prime minister of India. If this isn't selfish then what is it?

Prime minister of India, no less. Are you kidding me? You could not run the state of Delhi for two months and you expect me to hand over the reins of the country to you for the next 5 years?

Alright lets assume that you genuinely felt that contesting the Lok Sabha elections was a key thing and something that you had do. What did you do? Again like the typical filmy style you go out like an underdog hero and challenge the most popular leader, in a place which is not even your home turf. If this is not foolhardiness then what is it? How much would it have mattered whom you win against. Wouldn't you be able to serve the people better being an MP from somewhere in Delhi (your home turf) instead of creating all this drama of challenging Mr. Modi from Varanasi. Look at how Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jayaprakash_Narayan_(Lok_Satta) ) has done it. His party was never in power anywhere, but that never deterred him from becoming one of the best performing MLAs. I believe you wanted to show that you are not afraid of facing anyone in elections and you have the peoples' mandate to contest and win against Mr. Modi. But who cares about that Mr. Kejriwal? Sure you might have put up a good fight, but what does it account to in the end? All that I see is that you were trying to be a bollywood hero in the Indian politics, who wants to the take on the big bad guy (again as declared by yourself). You now lost your chance to voice the opinion of the people you represent in the LokSabha.

Then comes the ultimate flip-flop you did with the Delhi assembly. Until LokSabha election results were announced you kept hounding the Lt. Governor to dissolve the assembly. You even approached the Supreme Court for this. Then on one fine Tuesday you go and meet the Lt. Governor and make an announcement to the public that you have requested the Lt. Governor to NOT dissolve the assembly but give you another chance and that you will ask people about forming the government again and then decide. And the next day (on Wednesday) you make an yet another U-turn announcing that you have asked the Lt. Governor to dissolve the assembly and you will now ask people about contesting again in the elections.

How do you think this reflects on you? You accuse every politician out there of corruption, double standards and every other accusation possible and you yourself act in such an irresponsible and opaque manner, saying contradictory things on a daily basis and on top of it claim to be "THE ONLY HONEST POLITICAL PARTY". How can I believe anything you say after you have done so much of circus?

All this drama eroded complete faith in the capability of AAP to form and run a government in any form, let alone provide better governance than the existing political parties.

Please note that I have talked only about your own actions and what I feel about those. I have not mentioned any of the other accusations made about AAP or Mr. Kejriwal, like Mr. Kejriwal coming to Varanasi by train saying he has Rs. 500/- in his pocket and going back by flight, or the episode around Mr. Kejriwal's official residence as CM of Delhi, or the incident of Mr. Somnath Bharti and certain people of African origin or the mayraid images and posts circulated on the social network which, of course, you totally accuse as baseless and a defamation propaganda by the IT cell of BJP. I am not even making the comparison between Mr. Modi's Gujarat model and your achievements, because you say that its all an eyewash. So be it. That's why I have mentioned only the actions of AAP and it's leader Mr. Kejriwal.

Now a few times AAP has come out and said that it is a new political party with inexperienced people and hence they could have made some mistakes. It's good that you acknowledge this. But with this statement you can't ask people to hand over the country's administration to you. If you are new and inexperienced, then start with the basics. Gain that experience that you think is needed. I don't have to tell you that you need to start from the grass-root levels. Making noise in urban places, parading urban youth with the "Aam Aadmi" cap is one thing and working at village panchayat level, addressing rural problems is entirely different.

You do not have to be a MLA or MP to provide good governance. Those are not the only places where good politicians are needed. Those are not the only places where big time scams and plundering of public funds is done. Gram panchayat, taluk panchayat and Zilla Parishad are equally in need of good politicians and bureaucrats. If one were to accumulate the amount of money siphoned off in the name of NREGA through out the country then I am sure it will beat any of the other big scams that the previous government(s) have been accused of. The amount of pilfering that happens is insane. It easily runs into crores for each panchayat, every year. And I know this first hand.

Start at those places. Let people across the state and country know you, not just by your agitations, but by real work that you do, by some real meaningful change that you bring about. It's ok if you are unable to bring in a strong legislation like Jan Lokpal. You don't have to throw your hands up in the air in despair saying you were not given enough support. There are other innumerable things that you can and should do and those will have a big positive impact on people even without the Jan Lokpal. If you tell me that there is absolutely no machinery to fight corruption in our system currently then you are absolutely wrong. You do not have to put every single corrupt bureaucrat in jail or suspend them. It's sufficient if you make an example out of one or some of them in a few departments on a regular basis. The rest will automatically shy away from corruption. And you have enough ways to enforce such a thing.

Also, corruption is not the only problem plaguing our country. There are numerous other things that require attention. Being in a position of power allows you to address these other issues while you carefully maneuver the juggernaut that our system is. It doesn't have to be a head on collision. It's not a "Last man standing" kind of battle. I have personally seen government officials doing this in a very intelligent manner at various levels and I have seen it from very close quarters. It is possible. It is doable. Above all it brings out the desired positive changes and makes the lives of people better. It provides them what they really crave for. It's going to be difficult no doubt, but our constitution and our legal system provide so many options to deal with this juggernaut. This same government infrastructure which the corrupt are mis-utilizing can be turned around as a weapon against them.

No matter which legislation you bring in, we will not be a corruption free state overnight. It's going to be a long road and you need to be patient about it. We as a country are definitely in a much better position than we were a few decades back. So we can get better. Its just that we have a huge inertia owing to our big mass (aka population). Change is difficult. One is easily tempted about the idea of bringing about a revolution and making overnight changes. Personally, I feel the cost involved for such a revolution is very high and more importantly the desired result is not guaranteed. In comparison the slow and steady here will indeed be the winner.

You ask me what would make me a AAP volunteer in future. I say look beyond cities. Look at the vast majority of semi-urban and rural places. Go there. Find like minded people in those places. I am sure they are there. Empower them with all that you have. You have top class lawyers with you who can carry out a PIL right up in the supreme court. You have contacts in the press. You can mobilize man power. You can draw the attention of the nation and beyond. You know how to effectively use the RTI. You run NGOs which, despite the allegations of being funded by the CIA through various organizations, can do a lot of good. Do all of that. Become a party of the rural India. Become a household name as the best choice in panchayat politics and then I will probably become an AAP volunteer. Well technically you will not need me at that point and thats a fine contradiction to have. :).

I say probably because apart from the stuff that I have said above I am not really a fan of AAP party principles, which according to me are very close to communist ideas. So that's altogether a different matter and a commentary on that will have meaning only after the above mentioned things are addressed.

Oh and one more thing which I almost forgot. Please groom local leaders everywhere. Or rope in existing local leaders whose thought process aligns with yours. Personally a tie-up with Loksatta would have been really good. Nevertheless, do not be a typical "high command controlled" party. Be true to your vision and words and be truly federal even in your party structure and operation.

P.S : I might have come across as a staunch BJP supporter through out, which at the moment is true. In the recently concluded elections BJP under the leadership of Mr. Narendra Modi has been the best option for the country according to me and I am positive about India's future under the current government. Ideologically though, I think Loksatta is more appealing to me than AAP.


  1. Well written.
    However, one thing that I feel is that it (AAP - Kejriwal) in this entire journey has made people talk/ think about 'issue-based' politics.

    Note: Not a AAP fan.

  2. ^Well said Nikhil.
    Issue-based politics was missing in Indian democracy, and arrival of kejri to mainstage politics has made people talk and think. Never any government was closely monitored as 49 days and they made enormous errors in organizational development. The latter has cost them badly. However its too early to write off AAP.

    note: As a fan of AAP, WITH DISAGGREMENTS

  3. With current state of affairs inside AAP people are losing faith in participatory politics, which I believe is a very unfortunate thing. Until AAP was born, people of this country had completely distanced themselves from the idea of being politically active. AAP provided an amazing platform for those who genuinely wanted to bring change. Unfortunately their top-down approach has toppled this ship.

  4. Sunilavre, you echoed my thoughts!!! And I too have an ideological liking to the Loksatta Party