Will Change Overtake AAP?

Aam Admi Party (AAP) leader Mr. Arvind Kejriwal has deservedly come in for praise. He worked hard to exploit the public mood to garner support for his party. His efforts to expand his party’s base across the nation continue vigorously. But it would be a grievous error for him and his senior party colleagues to conclude that they have success in the bag. Few people perhaps, including the leaders of AAP, seem to have appreciated what the success thus far of the new party signifies. It reflects the national mood for a strong desire for change. AAP has up till now exploited this mood to garner support. It has accomplished nothing till now to offer hope of real political reform. Indeed, some of AAP decisions have created the opposite effect.

The populism generated by the party up till now could be a mere passing phase. Very soon people will tire of gimmicks and look for real change. Some of Mr. Kejriwal’s decisions up till now indicate change for the worse. The decision to conduct administration through forays into the street instead from inside offices, romanticized by sections of the media, is downright silly. The invitation to the public to conduct sting operations in order to expose corruption is worse. It can lead to criminality, blackmail, entrapment and create a haunted atmosphere of insecurity in the public. Sting operations conducted by greenhorns instead of by experts are an invitation to disaster.

Mr. Kejriwal’s most recent decision to hold a public hearing of complaints ended in chaos and farce. He said that arrangements broke down because instead of 500 expected, 5000 people turned up creating chaos. But if only 500 had come, what did Mr. Kejriwal expect to accomplish in redressing grievances from a public platform in a period of one or two hours? One hopes the adulation earned through cheap populism has not intoxicated his judgment. The basic principles of good governance are being trashed by the approach he has adopted till now.

One would have thought that with his experience in bureaucracy Mr. Kejriwal would have fine tuned the use of modern technology to enable accessible, quick and efficient redress of grievances. Mr. Narendra Modi is right to have rubbished Mr. Kejriwal’s public hearings of people’s grievances that violate all principles of good governance. In Gujarat the Swagat system of receiving complaints, processing them, and then addressing them, as established by Mr. Modi since 2003 should have provided a leaf to AAP leaders. Technology today allows easy access and quick disposal of grievances and complaints as never before. It would be a folly to ignore this and instead attempt a form of administration favoured by Haroun-al-Raschid, the eighth century Caliph immortalized in the 1001 Arabian Nights who in disguise made surprise checks of his subjects.

The truth is that up till now both Mr. Modi and Mr. Kejriwal have displayed uncommon skill to win popular support and future votes. Although it is puzzling why neither aspirant up till now has made the most obvious move to attract votes. The public would like to hear hard and direct allegations backed by facts against top UPA leaders for mega corruption scams. But both leaders have maintained a mystifying silence. The first to launch an attack on big ticket corruption would gain votes. The one who might follow would be perceived as a copycat. Nor has either leader offered concrete proposals to address the many burning problems facing the nation. Mr. Modi has relied on his record of administration in Gujarat to win support. But Gujarat is not India. He has yet to outline policies to address problems that bedevil the nation. Mr. Kejriwal has not gone beyond exploiting the public disenchantment with current lack of governance. To be fair the experts who mentor both campaigns are presently concerned only with winning votes. Possibly they will open their cards on serious national policy issues at a later, more appropriate, time.

There is urgent need to formulate a policy for affirmative action to deliver social justice which does not splinter society. Even as this is being written the Jats are on the warpath to get their own quota for jobs which will add one more caste to the over 3000 already listed in the OBC reservation list. There is need to formulate a policy on Kashmir that can defuse public resentment without compromising territorial integrity. There is need to formulate a policy to counter terrorism and stabilize relations with Pakistan. There is need to diplomatically curb Chinese aggression without endangering peace. There is need to accelerate economic growth without increasing disparities. There is need to curb corruption and expel it from our political system. There is need to review the working of our Constitution in order to remove the distortions that have crept into our democratic system. There is a host of problems that beset out nation. These need urgent and practical remedies.

In conclusion one would like to point out to the leaders of AAP that although they deserve high praise for their efforts up till now, they did not create change. Change was created by a new generation, the information revolution, and the stagnating political culture out of sync with youth. Mr. Kejriwal did not produce change. Rather it was change that produced Mr. Kejriwal. If Mr. Kejriwal falls short on performance he will fall by the wayside. Others will emerge. The process of change will not stop. India’s political renaissance is unstoppable.


More by :  Dr. Rajinder Puri

Top | Analysis

Views: 3348      Comments: 3

Comment AAP formed due to Loka Yukta Bill which is already passed. So its objective is over. Now they are capitalizing on the unexpected wins in Delhi and mood. This bubble will be pricked.

20-Jan-2014 09:06 AM

Comment A scheme similar to Swagat was formulated and put in place by Mrs. Shiela Dixit's government too, but for some reason it was discontinued sometime before the elections. God knows why.

It would have been appreciated if Mr. Kejriwal would have tried to revisit the same scheme, set up kiosks all over Delhi to enable the aam aadmi to register complaints, instead of trying the Durbar method. There is still time to do so.

However, follow up on those complaints could be a tough job in Delhi. Gujarat has its own police force, Delhi does not.

But whether Mr. Kejriwal and his team stay or go, they have set in motion a process that is bound to bring about change in the political culture of all parties in India.

Ravinder Malhotra
17-Jan-2014 15:10 PM

Comment Exactly.
AAP has not done anything significant to change the system that promotes corruption and punishes the honest officers and citizens. They are merely doing publicity stunts, none of their leaders have shown statesmanship. Moreover they seem to have misconception of what democratic system of governance is supposed to be. They have stopped alleging the Congress top politicians.

On the other hand, Mr. Modi has the statesmanship, but to what extent he will use his capabilities and power to serve the citizens and this nation is a question. He has not spoken his mind so far on the ground problems that this article briefly mentions in the second last paragraph. Modi keeps a lot of action plan as secretes and show only some of them to public. (as predicted before) He is going to fall short of meeting the need for good governance in India, will most probably compromise aam aadmi's interests over top business house's interests. So far as I remember, he has not taken any position on how to deal with China and on other international matters.

But, democracy is about choosing between the 'available(s)', here probably we have 3 choices - bad, worse and worst ! (The corrupt, the novice-public-entertainer and the anti-national, one can easily guess who these three alternatives are).

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
15-Jan-2014 02:36 AM

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