Beware of the No True AAPman arguments

The last few days have been tough for the Aam Aadmi Party. It does not help that their icon, Arvind Kejriwal has gone completely missing after the result, leaving the party to cope and unsure of what to do with their disappointment, commitment or need for direction. It seems many need a new motivation, to launch into the Delhi campaign, if nothing else. To restore a sense of normalcy with Kejriwal’s words pointing the way as usual.

Some volunteers are seeing the need for accountability and a reorganization. Others are seeing it as an attack on what AAP stands for at a time when they are vulnerable. The leaders have nothing to say. In this vacuum, I am noticing the growth of what I call the “No true AAPsman” argument, which I believe is part of the problems faced by the party and prevents an honest dialogue. It isn’t all that different from BJP’s “No true Patriot” “no true Indian” or “no true Hindu” argument.

For me, personally, I did face a completely unexpected backlash where I was accused of being a hypocrite or traitor for criticizing the party or not continuing with a support that was always intended for the election and not permanent. No use explaining that I don’t see politics as something limited to parties, or that I don’t have time to commit to a party or that I have political objectives that AAP doesn’t meet.

The idea that every person who supports AAP cares for a better India and every person who stops supporting is a traitor is absurd at best. Not all of us have outsourced our integrity to a party or person. I am perfectly capable of enacting my own integrity and having my own goals.

Do I believe Jan Lokpal is important? Not particularly. It is a good idea and worth implementing, but certainly not enough to transform politics or to end a government if it doesn’t happen. The same for the Swaraj Bill. There are things I find completely useless and counterproductive to the goals of transforming politics. Resignations, ultimatums, gambles from vulnerable positions, big talk that will backfire on the party if expected results don’t happen, not affiliating with parties, lack of broader policies, and more. And I completely detest that AAP often does not walk its talk and takes refuge in the excuse of being a new party or worse, turns into a moral peacock and judges others inferior for not admiring them.

I am a firm believer in strategy. I believe cunning is important in an uneven fight. Obeying the laws is must, but showcasing a tough road deliberately chosen over an easier one as a statement of moral superiority at the cost of failing or delaying the goal is too egotistic for me. For me the goal is my duty, not how I am seen making it happen. Who doesn’t like to slay demons wearing high heels and looking ready for a photo shoot at the end of it? But in reality it is messy. Killing the demon has to be more important than looking good at the end of the day. For me, I am not the point. For AAP, it is different. Being seen doing it correctly is important too. I can accept the difference in priorities. I also accept that I don’t have the responsibility to be a role model and have the luxury of chasing goals catering to nothing but my conscience and estimations in the moment. Neither is right or wrong, this quest will take all kinds of efforts in all kinds of directions.

I don’t think this in any way means I am not interested in the well being of the country!

At one time, AAP saw enough urgency to risk several seats to challenge leaders of big parties. Now it is complacent if urgent actions are recommended for a tough election staring in the face “it will take time” “long fight” etc. AAP made grand speeches about the high command culture. Yet every person to leave AAP and many who support AAP agree that Kejriwal is the one person without whose approval nothing happens. During campaign, AAP supporters were going around begging prominent people to support AAP. Now they are saying who doesn’t support can get lost. Season for requesting is apparently over. Will remember next election campaign time. Like true netas.

I put differences aside to support because I thought AAP deserved a chance even if their idea and method was different from mine. I still do. And I had made it clear all through that the support was in terms of a pro-AAP voice online till the elections, because I thought it was the right thing to do. I am not a real supporter? Of course I am not a real supporter, but AAP didn’t mind till last week. That does not mean that I am a fake now.

More than me, people who have committed money, support and often put their lives on the line and continue to raise voice if they think things are going wrong – they deserve better, not to be judged as lacking in integrity if not accepting of endless mistakes without complaint. Often the highest form of support is one that courts unpopularity to raise alarm to prevent costly mistakes.

Ilyas Azmi’s criticism was ridiculed as him “doing a Binny”. This man is on AAP’s PAC. He is bringing up a valid question asking why he, as a two time MP and core member of AAP was denied a ticket when Javed Jafferi could get it. It is a valid question that deserves transparent reasons and answers. Where has AAP’s candidate selection process gone? Surely AAP supporters aren’t thinking that AAP is so powerful that they don’t need candidates with concrete public support that got them elected to the Parliament twice? And yet, he isn’t quitting the party. Even as he states that the PAC was largely “rubber stamp” and it was Arvind Kejriwal’s word that made policies, he remains committed to AAP which is wasting his experience. Instead of this being valued as a point to improve, he’s being ridiculed for wanting a ticket. “If he was a true AAP person, he wouldn’t want a ticket.” So why is this logic not extended to Kejriwal or Yadav or any of the 433 something candidates? I assume all of them wanted to contest elections or they would never accept the tickets?

Moral grandstanding that refuses honest answers to another is prejudice. The unsaid ugly here is that Kejriwal is everything and whoever questions this is inferior.

So let me get this right. A person may get sunburned campaigning day after day for free – even on their own funds, but if they decide that it didn’t work, then it is THEY who are at fault. Even if Kejriwal didn’t so much as tweet a thank you after the result for the work they put in for HIS seat.

Then there will be no end to the “no true AAPsman” logic. No true AAPsman would eat bananas. But you do. That means you aren’t a real AAPsman. No true AAPsman would donate their three months to work. Minimum membership is lifetime, so if you are losing interest, means you were always fake. What next? No true AAPsman would donate only once and if you don’t donate every month you are a fake?

Here is a counter question. I believe in transparent government. I believe in accountability. I believe that existing parties are cartels for the most part. And I believe that AAP is not going to break the cartels because it will get sabotaged, and it will complain about sabotage instead of fighting it. Does this mean that I lost interest in honesty and transparency, or I lost trust in AAP’s ability to deliver it and am seeking better investment for my efforts in the interests of good governance to actually happen instead of sitting around patiently admiring morals while the Adani-Ambani sponsored government rules?

PS: For those of you who are saying that I did not give my feedback when it would be useful “instead of now”, I would advise you to read this feedback made within hours of Kejriwal’s Varanasi speech where he asks people if he should contest from Varanasi. You may search for “Aam Aadmi Party” and “suggestions” or “feedback” on this blog.

About the Author

Vidyut
Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

8 Comments on "Beware of the No True AAPman arguments"

  1. Very interesting article! I also supported for AAP this election (Lok Sabha 2014). I did so because I thought the system needed to be jolted and improved. The political parties have made politics their business. I never had a doubt that Aam Aadmi Party was merely a symptom of the society and not a solution to the problems the society is facing. In fact, what Kejriwal focused on the fault finding and highlighted the failures of others, the corruption rampant in our country etc. All these are the attributes of a very good agitator or a leader of a movement. However, in order to be successful in the democratic process of election, you need something more than just raising fingers at others; you need to provide people with an alternative. Kejriwal and his team many times tried to project themselves as alternative but never worked in this direction. The contemporary state of affairs in India is marred by corruption, no regards for the rights of the farmers and the poor man, policies being influenced by a few corny capitalists to the detriment of the larger interest, absolute disregard for the rule of the law, administration (by the bureaucrats) being done only on the paper, scams, unemployment, rising prices of basic necessities of life (food products like milk, vegetables), lack of clean drinking water, electricity shortage etc. I sincerely believed that Arvind Kejriwal would be able to make an impact in the Indian political scenario and he certainly managed to do so. He discarded red beacon, traveled by metro, conversed with the common man and engaged in dialogues with the press/media. All these were indications that he was ushering in something new into the Indian politics. People felt close to him and supported him. They could relate to him. This support for Kejriwal showed that people were very unhappy and fed up with the current state of affairs and wanted a change. It seems that AAP failed to realize that there was a difference in leading an agitation and forming a political party to contest in election and run a government. Even after becoming an administrator (the Chief Minister of Delhi) Kejriwal’s actions were that of an agitator. There is no doubt that he, as a Chief Minister, took many good steps that were needed for the betterment of the people; but some of the steps taken by him were not justified and proved fatal for his political party. For instance: the dharna in support of his law minister was uncalled for; the resignation from the post of the CM was too impulsive a decision because people were eagerly waiting for him to take more steps for their good; he should have not been impatient for passing of the Jan Lokpal Bill (resigning was not the solution). Furthermore, his team members could not match his qualities. It is evident from the number of the votes garnered by Kumar Vishwas, Yogendra Yadav and Shazia Ilmi. Furthermore, AAP lacked an ideology that is the most crucial aspect of the sustenance of any organization. Merely contesting on the instance/event-oriented planks does not take you a long way. You need to have a clear cut ideology and that to progressive in nature in order to sustain. Being a lawyer, I see one very interesting aspect in AAP’s campaign. They talked about the legislative and the executive bodies and institutions and the corruption therein; they never talked of reforming the judiciary and bring justice to the common man. I sincerely hope that AAP will improve itself as an organization and instead of discarding the institutions will focus on improving them. The improvement is a bigger task than discarding and needs great effort, intellect and dedication.

  2. Over all, everything you say “according to you must be done” is respected, but for you to state that as absolute truth and the only thing that works and that AAP leadership is a bunch of fools who don’t understand makes you guilty of what you are accusing the AAP leadership. Let me counter point by point of what you have written.

    “Some volunteers are seeing the need for accountability and a reorganization. ”
    accountability for what? not winning more seats? or contesting so many seats? for not working hard enough? for using black money? Please tell a valid point for which accountability must be fixed. If your only point is that if there were no AAP, BJP wouldnt have got such huge majority. I would say, thats First Past Post System to blame, and those who cannot accept the result after all the hard work put in without deviating from principles should rather not support AAP. Because the day AAP treads the path of established political parties of accepting black money, doing all dirty illegal things others do, they lost my support and vote forever.

    And who doesn’t know reorganization is needed? who said reorganization should not be done? we took a bold decision to go national tapping into the work of the 440 candidates. Now organization will be built on the ground work done in this election. To say that organization should be built first is an egg or chicken issue, and the only way it works is, build as you work.

    “Others are seeing it as an attack on what AAP stands for at a time when they are vulnerable.”
    “I call the “No true AAPsman” argument”

    I read, your previous blog post, it was completely vicious, vindictive, and was seeking blood of AAP leadership. You want everyone to resign, Kejriwal should resign, Yogendra should resign. And then again you dont like resignations. What do you want exactly? You dont like Kejriwal resigning as CM though he was not allowed to work, but you want him to resign because AAP didnt do very well in Loksabha?

    Movements the world over, those which are built on a towering leaders, will continue to depend on the leader untill the ideology out-grows the leader. Kejriwal’s work started and captured the imagination of people from Janlokpal andolan, and its only been 3 years. You accuse Kejriwal of being the center of all decisions, as though he has made himself the center. If you really think Kejrwial is egoistic and wants to hold on to power in AAP and doesnt want AAP to grow beyond him, I have no problem with your vicious attacks on AAP and Kejriwal. But, if you understand that in this transitional phase for AAP between its birth and finding its feet, the man whose ideology on which AAP is formed, swaraj and janlokpal, has no choice but to play a major role in its decisions, you would concentrate on suggestions and less on venting your frustration for BJP victory.

    And then “Do I believe Jan Lokpal is important? Not particularly. It is a good idea and worth implementing, but certainly not enough to transform politics or to end a government if it doesn’t happen. The same for the Swaraj Bill. ”

    AAP or kejriwal never made a secret of their mission. Janlokpal and Swaraj are two ideas which if implemented will have far reaching micro and macro level implication in a 5-10 years after implementation. People participation will grow, People will see the direct link between the taxes they pay and outcome of its spending, the stakeholders will have a day to day control/accountability. Can you imagine the level of impact it will have in the way people vote, support parties after they taste swaraj? can you imagine how the entire discourse will change once people start participating? If not for anything else, Only Swaraj and Janlokpal are enough for me to support AAP. Now if you dont beleive in these ideas and still support AAP, good. And its nobody’s business to say you are not “true AAPian”. There are many people who bind strongly with ideology and a few who dont. Its a useless fight to decide who is true AAPian and who is not. I dont care if AAP doesnt win even a single seat, as long as they fight these two ideas, they will have my support.

    “The idea that every person who supports AAP cares for a better India and every person who stops supporting is a traitor is absurd at best. ”

    Strictly speaking, what you said above is absolutely right. Whoever says that those who dont support AAP are traitors is wrong, but what they do in the process of supporting parties which take black money etc leaving AAP which has brought in honesty back into politics is nothing but doom india to be a banana republic for atleast another 30 years. Now calling the outcome “traitor-ship” is left to the people to decide. But I would like to add, all those who support the parties which are corrupt, are ultimately unwittingly becoming traitors deceiving their conscience.

    “At one time, AAP saw enough urgency to risk several seats to challenge leaders of big parties. Now it is complacent if urgent actions are recommended for a tough election staring in the face “it will take time” “long fight” etc. AAP made grand speeches about the high command culture. Yet every person to leave AAP and many who support AAP agree that Kejriwal is the one person without whose approval nothing happens. ”

    You accusation shows your bias. How can you say it is “complacency”. On the one hand you are pounding them for defeat in elections, you want them to build organization, and on the other hand when they say “building organization is needed and its a long journey which is the priority” you call it complacency?

    Ofcourse strategy will change. You have a problem with that? they risked many seats? when? for delhi elections or General elections? in both cases they adopted the same strategy, Kejriwal against the best opponent, crowd sourcing etc. After the recent elections, they want to build organization. And I am sure they will be in a mind wrenching struggle on how to go forward. They fought selflessly, and they fought tirelessly. If Kejriwal wants time, thats the least we can give him. Everyone wants him to introspect, so let him. He is not a thick skinned man who shrugs off responsibility. It would be a disaster for AAP and death blow if Kejriwal resigns now. Now is when AAP needs his leadership the most. But how can he reconcile the loss which he never expected. Deamons must be roaming in his mind. The least we can give is time and not bay for his blood.

    ” Ilyas Azmi’s criticism was ridiculed as him “doing a Binny”.”
    Every volunteer/supporter of AAP gets nothing in return. We are spending our time, money, and taking risk to support AAP for the love of this country without expecting anything. It is only natural that when someone quits for not getting ticket, however genuine the reason, will never be celebrated. because ultimately they are quitting because they didnt get something.

    And then the high command culture. Is being a PAC member a qualification that gives someone a right to ticket? in that case all PAC members will want ticket. Going by that logic what wrong was binny in asking for ministry? he was the one who implemented swaraj in his ward. Sure, ticket distribution was probably not perfect. nothing is perfect. but to attribute motives in ticket distribution, and qutting AAP for not being given a ticket is rubbish. I personally wish each and everyone who wants to quit AAP if not given a ticket to quit, the earlier the better. IF the amount of work done for AAP, or the amount of time a person is with AAP were to be the criteria for giving tickets we would’ve never got Medha tai, Kanchan Choudari, Anoop nautiyal etc gems as candidates. AAP offered CM candidacy to Kiran Bedi in delhi in past. I support this practice of giving tickets to outsiders. That will bring in fresh blood, and makes sure AAP doesn’t stink with corrupt polluted blood of career politicians like in other parties. Sure ilias Azmi might have a valid point but quitting AAP is only shows that they dont have the maturity to understand that in a start-up which is yet to find its feet, yet scaling up to national level in no time, mistakes are bound to happen and a lot of bolts need to be tightened and who better than ilias Azmi like people to stick with it and do it rather than quitting.

    and this “True AAPian” thing, I am sure all the simplistic and extreme to the extent of sounding silly, examples you gave like eating banana stretch the fringe elements in AAP who are supercharged to showcase as though a lot of AAPians are like that. And even these few extreme guy have their learning curve. They will realize slowly that AAP is not 100% perfect in what it does, but is 100% different and honest in what it wants to do. So, you would do better to give a smile to those AAP supporters and explain your point or just ignore. But you cannot paint all AAPians who disagree with your point, unwittingly though, as subscribing to this rubbish “no true X” idea.

    “So let me get this right. A person may get sunburned campaigning day after day for free – even on their own funds, but if they decide that it didn’t work, then it is THEY who are at fault. Even if Kejriwal didn’t so much as tweet a thank you after the result for the work they put in for HIS seat.”

    So now you are trying to say that Kejriwal is blaming volunteers for his defeat. This is worst you can accuse to prove that your demand for Kejriwal resignation is right. Kejriwal is not GOD, he is a human being. In engineering when I got only 1220 in GRE in 2003, I was crest fallen. I was the best among my friends, all were expecting me to get 1400. I couldn’t reconcile the shock. I couldn’t talk to anyone for few days. Now this man took the responsibility of taking AAP national, worked day in and day out, many volunteers burned in sun and finally the result is disappointing. You think it will have no impact on him? Will he not be hurt? will he no feel moral pain that he couldn’t live upto the efforts of his volunteers? Kejrwal always thanked volunteers for everything about AAP. This once he gets a shocker in elections, and he delays thanking and you are all here accusing his silence as equivalant to his blaming volunteers. I think you need some rest sister.

    “Here is a counter question. I believe in transparent government. I believe in accountability. I believe that existing parties are cartels for the most part. And I believe that AAP is not going to break the cartels because it will get sabotaged, and it will complain about sabotage instead of fighting it. Does this mean that I lost interest in honesty and transparency, or I lost trust in AAP’s ability to deliver it and am seeking better investment for my efforts in the interests of good governance to actually happen instead of sitting around patiently admiring morals while the Adani-Ambani sponsored government rules?”

    Your accusing AAP of complaining and not doing anything fails my mind. Kejriwal didnt sit quiet that existing parties are cartels of power and he cant do anything, thats why started Janlokpal. He didnt sit quiet complainting govt wont pass the law, so he formed AAP. He didnt sit quiet that we dont have money so AAP went national with peanut budget. Now results are not too good but ok. So they will plan their next move. You want it now immediately and you also want them to introspect, you also want them to be democratic and listen to all voices. I guess that will need sometime unless Kejriwal n AAP are some kind of super human.

    So yes, please let me know where better you are investing your effort in. I am sure its not BJP or Cong. so a pal, and someone whose objective is transparency, accountability, good governance I would be interested too with your new option.

    • I am not able to understand your views. You see my suggestions as vindictive. Fair enough.

      You see it as resignations. I see it as a better assigning of roles to leverage everyone’s strength. I am not a Kejriwal bhakt just like I am not a Modi bhakt. I see his strengths and think that for a party with limited resources, the more Kejriwal is free to interact, the better the party will do. It is not vindictive to say that he is extremely poor at communicating and listening and it has impacted the party’s communication all through. Every person who leaves says they are unheard. People who haven’t left say the same thing. AAP supporters have often said that the leadership is too busy to take suggestions. Right now, the man who could tweet all through his campaign has yet to tweet a thank you to supporters – let alone speaking as the leader of his party. You can worship Kejriwal or see that this is not his strength and it is harming the party and put someone whose strength it is, to do these things. Kumar Vishvas comes to mind – for example.

      Kejriwal’s strength is explaining AAP’s vision (at least it was, before he got into Adani and Ambani) Go through last 3 months of public appearances. He looks exhausted in every single one of them. So he is not even able to deliver his strengths because he is doing too much. This doesn’t help him, it doesn’t help the party, it doesn’t gain the voter’s trust.

      AAP doesn’t have money power. It doesn’t have media power, it doesn’t have the central government or police on its side. If at this time you are simply going to say let everything continue as it is regardless of failure, you’re handing over a clean sweep to BJP in Delhi as well. As for increase in vote share, BSP has the third highest vote share of the country without a single seat won.

      You can see this as vindictiveness, or you can see it as simple and verifiable feedback. My blog is mine, and I will comment what I see anyway.

      What are my options? My options continue to be political commentary and propagating points of view other than what mainstream media propagates.

      • Vidyut,
        If I read you correctly, you are as much disappointed with the electoral result as any AAPian sweating out there, perhaps you are angrier because you believe AAP is the only solution to India’s problems and an opportunity was squandered away .But then it might be too early to be as strongly opinionated as you currently are, especially if its a hindsight judgment. 🙂
        I have earlier used David Vs Goliath analogy but after witnessing the onslaught I can find no other analogy to describe the asymmetry. NDA’s media campaign was unprecedented, something I don’t think even Arvind would have been fully prepared for. I have even read sympathetic articles/news items on terrorists and rapists but never on Kejriwal. Of course, media declared all out war on AAP after Arvind’s repeated allegations that both BJP and Congress were in league with Ambani-Adani and crony capitalists who controlled the entire media. In streets, RSS cadres, Congress goons carried on vilification campaign, intimidation and even violence . In the cacophony they managed drown AAP’s voice from reaching the public. Thus the electoral result cannot be seen as failure on part of AAP leaders. It was victory of a campaign of shock and awe, of divisive politics, lies and hyperbole amplified by every medium of mass communication.
        As for Kejriwal’s domination in decision making process, I would extend the same argument. AAP is in nascent state and unlike other parties, it has no unsaid or said agreement between different parties and./or corporate. On the contrary, it is just the opposite. These parties have already tried and would continue to try to nip it and the best way would be to infiltrate (something Sangh’s are adept at) , create distrust, dislodge it from moral highground and collapse it from within (classic 4th generation warfare strategy). So it is imperative that the priority be expansion of the base at least until it reaches the threshold beyond which it would be difficult to cause implosion (due to AAP’s decentralized structure) . A Delhi centric-party (Delhi being part-state and a small one ) is much more vulnerable. The concept of Swaraj can , I believe, be also defined as devolution of political power. So it is unlikely, that someone who advocates that would himself be hungry for power.
        Further I believe that “whomsoever seeks power, is not fit to be trusted with it” and in its current stage AAP volunteers need that understand that.
        —– If you can recall, I have had some experience in this regard. I may be too insignificant in the big picture but what I was putting at stake was invaluable for me and the only return would have been a feeling of having contributed. But then if I were to let my disappointment prevent me from continuing to support the movement I would be a liar or an opportunist.
        —-End of Whining :p —-

        Anyway, I believe that when compared to other parties such as Cong, SP, BSP, DMK AAP has had partial success, becoming the main opposition to the BJP during the polls and has virtually dominated the political discourse (completely uncredited though) which in the information age has become almost part of democratic process. However, with the mass media being overtly hostile towards AAP it is, imho, imperative that AAP work on public communication, especially amplification in offline world 🙂

        p.s: Apology if something is out of context, I haven’t followed up developments over last 2 days…

  3. No true AAP argument is a fallacy. AAP means a common man – not necessarily one who supports AAP – even those opposing it. Because in doing so, they are also adding to its vision of swaraj. So those who call out for “No True AAPians” have themselves misunderstood AAP.

    Also ups and downs are a part of life.

  4. sushil Tomar | May 19, 2014 at 8:00 pm | Reply

    Excellent ! I hope they get it right. @SushilKTomar

  5. I think Kejriwal has listened. He has posted a message on FB that the organisation limitations will be taken care of.
    Hope things fall in place fast and the hope for a lot of dreams will be kept alive.

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