Apr 1: The AAP infighting drama has everything to make it an entertaining and comedy thriller – suspense, backstabbing, blackmail, open scuffle, bullying, accusations and counter-accusations, manipulations, behind-the-scene manoeuvrings, horse trading, dirty politics, mobile recordings, videos and blame game. While infighting is common in political parties after a harsh drubbing in elections, as is now happening in the Congress, it is the other way round as far as AAP is concerned. The wrangling which was going on clandestinely before Delhi elections have come out in the open within a few day of the being voted to power in Delhi elections and that too with a thumping majority. This bickering in AAP has come as a big dampener for all those who were happy to see AAP emerging as viable alternative political force to take on the BJP and the Congress.
The AAP imbroglio reminds us of the fall of the first non-Congress government that ruled the centre headed by Morarji Desai of Janata Party in 1979 due to its internal contradictions. The main characters in that drama were Morarji Desai, Choudhary Charan Singh and Indira Gandhi. It was Desai’s indifferent attitude and Charan Singh’s ambition that hastened the fall of the Desai government formed after the Emergency debacle. A maverick Charan Singh was waiting for an opportune time to topple Desai government. So, when the opportunity came knocking he seized it and pulled out from the government. Having done that, he lost no chance to become the Prime Minister with help of the same Indira Gandhi who had jailed him during emergency. On her part Indira Gandhi played her political cards adroitly when she withdrew support within five months of Charan Singh becoming the Prime Minister, leading to the fall of the Janata government. In the elections that followed Indira Gandhi was voted back to power.
Though such a situation may not arise in Delhi as of now because of the sheer majority AAP enjoys, one cannot help drawing comparisons between these two incidents. So, what does this significantly different political development in AAP actually indicate? Is it a clash of ideology or merely a struggle for power and clashes of bruised or bloated egos? AAP drama has certainly given credence to the oft repeated quote that says ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Aravind Kejriwal used to swear by internal democracy, getting rid of VIP culture and personality cult, clean political funding, internal Lokpal and much more. In reality he has shown glimpses of being a despot equivalent or worst than what he has been accusing of other political parties before assuming power as the Chief Minister of Delhi.
Today the people of Delhi and elsewhere have every right to ask Kejriwal and his cronies what has happened to his promise of bringing about a paradigm shift in the political scenario of the country by annihilating some of the ills plaguing us such as corruption, maladministration, bureaucratic red-tapism and equal opportunities for all. What happened to his trump card of being different from other political parties? Omar Abdulla’s tweet says it all – “To think that commentators were actually advising older political parties to be more like #AAP seems #AAP has decided to be more like us :-)”.
The AAP squabbling also reminds us that both Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were surrounded by a coterie of political cronies and a bunch of chamchas restricting the entry of others into their inner circle. It was this coterie which was the undoing of Indira Gadhi and even Rajiv Gandhi. Now it is the same coterie culture which is the root cause of the problems engulfing AAP. Aravind Kejriwal had a panacea for every problem faced by Indians before he came to power. But he is incapable of solving the internal strife within is party which is sure to split wide open any time. How can people trust him to solve the problems of the common people when he can’t set his house in order?
After getting rid of founding members of AAP Yogendra Yadav, Prashanth Bhushan and a few others who were the architects of the party building it from scratch, we are told Kejriwal is now in full control of the party. His infamous speech ‘it is either me or they’ is a reflection of his arrogant and haughty attitude towards those who question his style of functioning and his despotic way of running the party affairs. After sacking these senior members he has appointed only his confidants to plum positions to stem any dissent and silence those who oppose him or voice concerns about how the party affairs are governed.
Arvind Kejriwal and other founding members came into limelight on the issue of Jan Lokpal bill during the Anna Hazare Movement. The fact that the internal Lokpal was ejected unceremoniously yesterday shows Kejriwal camp has scant regard for the very ideals they e highlighted when they were all aam aadmi people. They have least regard to the basic democratic principles in pursuit of their goals of ousting the dissidents. Prashanth Bhushan termed his sacking and subsequent development as Stalinist Purge.
Kejriwal might succeed in tightening his grip over the party as of now, which is no doubt a dangerous development. It makes way for personality cult. Sadly the coterie surrounding him today comprises political opportunists including many journalists-turned politicians. Though the hypocrisy of Kejriwal gang has been exposed time and again including its efforts to indulge in horse trading, common people still believed that AAP is a welcome development in the murky politics of India and voted it to power. Sadly the AAP experiment is proving to be a futile experiment, having failed to come to terms with its vicissitudes.
Here I recall George Orwell’s political satire “Animal Farm” where Orwell describes his novel as a ‘violent conspiratorial revolution led by consciously power hungry people’. Further he says the turning point of the story was supposed to be when the pigs (people in power) kept the milk and apples for themselves which were supposed to be shared by all. Kejriwal camp wants to keep all the milk and apples only for its coterie members and has been trying to brusquely dump all those who raised their voice against despotism and personality cult.