AAP, since the unceremonious ouster of the founding members, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, has acquired a dubious honorific Arvind Alone Party as its supremo seems to call the shots to a coterie of Yes men. Perhaps the hidden agenda of the powerful coterie within the party is precisely this – weed out the two and all their open and disguised sympathizers to ensure that there would be no dissent or inconvenient bottlenecks on major decisions of governance and ideology.
In fact the two had given it a semblance of a left of centre ideology that would be based on deliverables, secularism and anti-crony capitalism. Kejriwal initially went on an evidence-gathering campaign against Nitin Gadkari, Robert Vadra and Mukesh Ambani for which the data compilation of Prashant was the spring board. The initial momentum to the AAP was undoubtedly derived from this campaign as the brand value of ‘aam aadmi’ sunk among the earnest middle class and the rural poor. Adding to this initial combustion was the heady mix of honesty, integrity and determined crusade against corruption. In 2013 elections in Delhi the middle class enthusiasm translated into 28 seats for AAP which was an eye opener though the party botched it up by quitting in 49 days over inability to pass the Jan Lok Pal Bill in the assembly.
A heady drama
The whole exercise then was a heady drama because the party went too fast in power as if it wanted to realize all its avowed promises in one go. When it fell all one could see was a sea of resentment and disgust among the voters. It made AAP recalibrate its strategy following the debacle in the Lok Sabha elections and return in a chastened mood to the voters. In all these, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant wore it out equally with other stake holders in the party and the internal organs – the PAC, NE and the internal Lok Pal headed by Rampal. Both thought they had the ear of Kejriwal on selection of party candidates after Lok Pal’s scrutiny for the assembly elections, verification of donations for the party or empowering the state units to decide on contesting in state elections. All these sounded incontestable on paper as alternative politics.
By then the perception and priorities of the emerging powers that be were different in contrast and they were even poaching into the Congress camp for dissidents’ support to form a government again in the name of ‘political realignment.’ Of course there were allegations of bribe offers too, an odour in the wind. Essentially it meant to follow the established adage of politics – no permanent friends or enemies and swim with the tide. The dice of estrangement and ouster was cast then.
Skein of irony
It is a skein of irony that the very stings that the AAP took recourse to once should return to sting them. Quite a few ex- MLAs from the gloom-ridden Congress camp came out with their own stings to claim that Kejriwal camp manoeuvred to lure them to form the government again. It gave a bandwidth to the Yadav-Bhushan counterpoint that the party had been undercutting its own founding principles by these methods and also giving tickets to crossovers with questionable backgrounds. And the internal Lok Pal, the very organ that the AAP was so vocal about for its democratic chip, was ridden roughshod making one wonder what was the rationale for the massive agitation earlier. Well, the party won a spectacular mandate and in the euphoria all the dust went off taking Prashant and Yadav also in its course. Mr. Rampal too quit in disgust perhaps nailing the fact that when a party’s Lok Pal could not protect its independence from the internal marauders how could its bigger version the Jan Lok Pal?
Absence of charisma
What the dissenters do now remains to be seen as unmistakably they have a measure of support from sympathizers but the absence of charisma will range against the duo because Indian politics has been personality-based in the last two decades. Yogendra Yadav will have to get out of theoretical syndrome and start on deliverables based campaign. Kejriwal on the other is in governance and in an advantageous position but it is still a make or break situation for him.
Either way both are at crossroads as is inevitable……