When Yemen was stirred so were we, when Egypt burned we marveled. Never had the eyes of those born after the fall of the Berlin Wall seen democracy triumph so gloriously. Never had our young pupils dilated at the sheer will power and frustration of an oppressed people. Here one could regale tales of the power of social media and its socio political impact. But its not what spread the fire but what lit the spark that I think is important. We too today sit on a powder keg and there are too many wielders of matches, lighters and flint.
The AAP ( Aam Admi Party) is as someone aptly put, the new bride in a large traditional joint family. Every opportunity to scrutinize, criticize and sensationalize every breath of the members of this party’s government is seized. When the ex-Anna camp crusader Arvind Kejriwal formed a party people sneered. Many even seem betrayed, surely the man who criticizes politics can’t decide to go in and clean it up? seemed the so very natural response.
There is a very frequently used line in the context of Bollywood : ‘Sadak se uthake Star bana dunga ‘ ( I’ll take someone from off the streets and make him/her a star). This applied to Kejriwal and his party as virtually unknown people from the age of 26 and with an election budget of under 5 lakhs actually won the Delhi Assembly elections. The nation was jubiliant, there was change and there was victory for the ordinary. Most who have never even stepped into the capital wanted the ruling party knocked out and this common man so flamboyantly far off from the compliant creation of RK Laxman, complied. We in India don’t believe in reading or understanding election manifestos, there is somehow a disinterest fiction when it doesn’t involve mythological characters or a sex ridden life in engineering colleges. So no one exactly knew what this broom waving man in a Gandhi topi was promising but there had to be something about Lokpal and anti-corruption, that was good enough.
Never has anyone in the history of a State Assembly been so scrutinized or attempted to stir so much trouble in the first month. The man who buzzes around in an ordinary blue WagonR, dresses like a night watchman and yet manages to kick the sensibilities out of many insensible folk is a spectacle indeed. When he did not get a majority and asked the public what he must do there seemed to be no qualms about his shaking hands with the greasy palm. The nation seemed to be disappointed for the very organization that has bred corruption and scams should now go arm in arm with one that pledged to fight it? If the people of Delhi are happy who are we to be aghast? We are the disgruntled public of other states getting high on tweets and posts ridiculing and accusing or defending a government we secretly hope would come to our states. But that was not the problem, not the major one.
Over a year we have pinned our dreams and hopes on perhaps the world’s most vocal and celebrated “tea vendor”. A saffron dipped crusader, a lion bred in the jungles of Gir and man whose spitting radius far exceeds the mole hills in which his enemies can hide. A man whose ideas were not revolutionary but yet a fresh change from the wordless public appearances of an intellectual but painfully silent PM. A person who would be the ultimate choice for he was in fact the only choice, ( if you still believe in a democracy and that India is not a pseudo monarchy where the reigns be handed down to the next in line genetically). With development, experience and a great personality in his kitty, NaMO is like the dream candidate, well except the bloody past of Gujarat and the calm indifference to communal hatred. So when sprung up our Gandhi Topi donning spitfire, accusing each and everyone around him, becoming a CM in is first election, we were incensed. A plot to divide and rule yelled those who could, “they want Kejriwal and Modi to fight it out so that the ‘Scion’ takes hold” claimed others. Can’t AAP be satisfied with Delhi alone? A nation’s reluctance to embrace a political change for its drivers lack enough experience seems rather hypocritical, especially when we have expressed our distaste for 80 year old PMs in waiting. Granted that the haphazard attempts to put together candidates and a show before the upcoming national elections seems ludicrous. How can you get decent people till then? How will we get to know them? Well frankly it all makes very little difference. How well do you know your MP? What are his/her aims which go beyond self contentment? What has he/she done for you and at what cost? Do you elect him/her for his party or because his/her family has always gotten elected in the region? If it were on a purely party basis that you cast your vote (as I have seen most middle class people) do then choosing AAP you could do no more harm than others.
This makes it sound like a product review but then perhaps that’s what the internet savvy, e-commerce addicted people like us need:
- The party has got its heart in the right place with a commitment to battle the corruption which has festered under our glorious leaders.
- These are indeed the common men, with very small assets and have faced the problems which you and I do even today. From electricity bills to daunting visits to any government office. The desperate but greedy traffic cop is something these people have also been troubled by.
- Most of the members are young, dynamic and unspoiled by the putrid atmosphere of politics. By young I of course mean less than the national standard of 42 and by dynamic less than 63.
- Most members are either decently educated or have social and civic experience to govern and administer responsibly. Education and normal jobs are by no means any guarantee of success but should avoid the embarrassment of flinging chairs, breaking windows and other recreational activities some factions of the nation see fit to indulge in.
- Its India’s first political party which people are actually proud to join without having to make concessions for most policies and decisions or even members. The online subscription model has kicked off nationwide.
- Has high visibility and has managed to captivate the attention of the nation thus it already has the platform to launch a full scale sweep of the country. In a country where some if few people still think that the current Congress leadership descends biologically from the Mahatma, the White Gandhi Topi is fast gaining recognition.
- They speak their minds, its not always what we want to hear but perhaps what we need to. It might be speaking a lot without saying anything and yet a break from pre-scripted speeches or things which would look great on Astha & Sanskar channels.
When the Delhi CM was interviewed a few days back by two leading News Channels the web stood as divided as it ever has over an issue of Indian polity. A lot of the initial applauders of this harbinger of change began to ask for his change.
- One David many Goliaths : Wise men have hammered into the heads of their prodigies – Choose your battles. AAP has managed to elude these wise men. Police, press and politicians are being pursued by AAP like a hound in a room of foxes, confused who to bite first. Most are corrupt, most need change but how about starting house cleaning from the top? Otherwise you’d have all the furniture on the road in a mess.
- Austerity overstretch : In a populous country like India there are certain signs of distinction which people in power must avail themselves of. This is not to get a head rush of power but to make day to day functioning easier. When policemen don’t respect honest state ministers and yet quiver in front of corrupt Parshads there is something wrong. I am not saying that travelling in a Lal Batti helps but it doesn’t hurt. We have a natural respect for public office and sadly its got all to do with the bells and whistles. The Queen wears her crown and the Pope his hat for a reason and its not comfort.
- Kicking Things : Everything you do doesn’t have to be front page news but when it is see that its mostly good. From every small official visit to a social gathering the Delhi CM is like the farmer from Peepli Live, constantly reported. While such coverage would prove educational for other legislators around the nation it gives a very disturbed opposition, ammunition. Perhaps security would keep the press at bay and get some work done?
- Watch your lips : From racism to sexism and what not has been flung at the pour souls in AAP. If you take on an ex-stand up as a potential member of parliament his rib ticklers from previous years shall come looking for a bite of your behind. In a nation with a sense of humor defined by the likes of Kapil Sharma, we laugh at a line today and find it in poor taste tomorrow. I have seen people downloading and watching the antics of Kumar Vishwas when he was on the IIT and NIT circuit and now the very same people find his previous jokes distasteful. A man may represent us in Parliament but he shouldn’t dare to make you laugh!
The African citizen’s fiasco also seems to have been drawn to a conclusion favoring AAP ( not publicly lauded as such but still). Bloggers, journalists and the mainstream media did crucify Kejriwal and his cronies but the AAP page has a different story to tell. Not the most prudent of speakers the party has but the police did not do its job at least that came out.
- Anarchy : ‘ Haan mai hu bada Anarchist, Anarchy faila raha hu. Shinde saab ke tarike se kya hua? Unhone to raita faila diya!’ Any man who can say stuff like this about the nation’s Home Minister as he gets up from his bed on the street and is surrounded by hundreds of Police men loyal to the HM, has my respect. The entire drama unveiling now on the streets doesn’t fully meet my approval but the 45 year old is kick ass. However he does need to get the plan into shape, a democracy run by everyone shan’t be very good. We might end up with YO YO Honey Singh anthems on every street if we went with the public opinion. I believe in the dictum ” You don’t give people what they want, you give them what they need.”
- Getting Work done : We have never measured the performance of any politician beyond the usual appraisal of transport, electricity and water supply. So how would we know where to begin? We need to be told of the ‘Development’ as in the case of Gujarat. 20 days have gone by and I know not how Delhi is functioning beyond the dharnas and dramas. Is work actually being done? Work beyond the previous administration? Or are we maintaining a Work-Protest balance?
You need not like AAP, nor agree with them but you shall have to admit that there is something pleasantly different about this whirlwind scenario. The deflating of egos and power of the elected officials of our country in this unconventional way is perhaps what we need, to grasp the meaning of the term ‘Public Servant’. We must realize that beyond the antics of a befuddled bunch of idealists lies the underlying disgust for conventional parties that got them ( the idealists) elected. No longer is our future to be bartered between alternating power factions propelled to power not through choice but the lack of it. Think of a country free from the hanging swords of bureaucracy, political hooliganism and dialogues like ” Tu janta nahi mai kiska beta hu.” If there is a change in Delhi it shall hopefully spread to where its needed; in every corner of this nation. AAP may not be the answer but it is definitely a worthy attempt.