The BJP has declined to form a government in Delhi, as was expected. However, while reelections will dramatically improve the Aam Aadmi Party's chances of getting elected with a clean majority, all else remaining same, the chances are that everything else will not remain the same. A clear disadvantage AAP will be facing now is that it will not be taken lightly and the determined efforts to sabotage its credibility will only escalate.
This is no minor thing, with the Congress leading the UPA that controls Delhi police as well as the BJP's nuisance value in terms of organized slander. While the Aam Aadmi Party sustained itself against the attacks reasonably well, it would do well to remember the price it paid with the sting or with Anna's allegations or "independent" candidates and prepare itself better for defending its credibility as well as showcasing its strengths. With the BJP and Congress on the war path again, media spotlight is likely to dry up rapidly too. For all their benevolence now they know which side of their bread is buttered.
A quick example is today's Cobrapost sting operation showing MP's providing letters of recommendation without verifying credibility of the organization it was recommending - for a fee. Do note how this sting has sunk like a rock in public attention as compared with the well-hyped sting against AAP which didn't even show anything conclusive.
The leaders of Aam Aadmi Party need to become visible again providing clear direction to volunteers. There need to be sustained efforts to ensure that previous proofs of corruption and misuse of authority are prosecuted in upcoming months, so that the difference between what AAP offers is clear and in the attention of the masses. There will be need to reduce areas where Aam Aadmi can be legitimately criticized as well as fulfilling promises made that they are in a position to deliver already.
Two key points come to mind:
- Appointing a Public Information Officer to answer RTI queries. Aam Aadmi Party had promised this when it was campaigning to Save RTI and it must deliver on this promise that does not require it to be elected before fulfilling. Let people experience that Aam Aadmi Party also delivers what it claims as opposed to others. So far, there are few opportunities to demonstrate this, and this glaring one is starting to look like a promise broken with sustained ignoring of all demands raised to appoint a PIO.
- It is not enough to simply say you support the gay community in their protest against Section 377 IPC. An LGBT Aadmi is an Aam Aadmi too, and the party's response to this development is sorely lacking in the kind of ownership that is seen on other issues. Aam Aadmi Party should consider giving a ticket to an LGBT person in the coming elections. Every state should try to have at least one LGBT person among their candidates. Let your voice ring with support for this Aam Aadmi as well, not just vague mumbles of supporting *their* protests. These are *our* protests. It is an opportunity to show your ability to lead reform for the future of the nation as well, instead of just channeling people's immediate problems.
Speaking of leading to the future and having a vision, these six months should also be used to revise the manifestos to include a larger vision on civil rights that is common to all constituencies and beyond local issues. A direction for growth. There is a need to consult experts on human rights and other subjects and form a larger understanding and decisions on issues like privacy - for example. India doesn't have a privacy law, but it is an important fundamental right. The AAP manifestos have spoken freely of CCTV monitoring. However, there seems to be little in terms of safeguards that protect civilian privacy that can be violated using those CCTVs in the normal run of events. They should be added. Perhaps some kinds of CCTVs will need to be offered differently to ensure rights are not violated.
There needs to be some vision in the party on issues facing the country's immediate future like free speech, gender rights, privacy, state spying, censorship, education, intellectual property, open content, consent on various matters ranging from sex to medical procedures and more, just like there needs to be a vision on water and housing. There need to be stands on things like UID, ICMS, IT Act, IT Rules, RTE, and more. It is not enough to say we are decentralized. What do you stand for? If you stand for human rights, then you have to have a vision on necessary change. It isn't enough to say whatever masses want, because plenty of places in India, masses will also want to ban phones for women or may want to allow child marriage or something else equally undesirable, but comfortingly desirable to an unevolved society.
These six months should be used to build the party into something the rest of the states can network with and adapt and form a vision for the whole country, as the states have already started announcing their intentions.
The vibrant magic of Aam Aadmi Party before the elections seems to have faded into a complacent glow that seems to take success for granted. I think the sights need to be set firmly on where you want to go instead of where you came from. Much needs to be done, but all of a sudden, the party seems content to do nothing and just enjoy the result - which is a rather long time to be idle when it comes to politics.
Gone is all the talk of the party's vision, what it will achieve, volunteers engaging with people, commentary on current affairs by the party.... it is almost like winning sent the party into oblivion.
Please don't take this lightly. The well entrenched politics of India is not going to part like some mythical sea just because new people are claiming a halo. They are still the same people the country desperately needs an alternative to. So Aam Aadmi Party needs to continue to be the people speaking up its alternative vision.
It isn't just about votes. It is about building a new relationship. It is about sustaining what was started in the campaign and nurturing it from a seasonal thing into something more dependable, instead of setting it adrift now that it doesn't need to act for the party.
Wake up and grab the steering wheel again, Aam Aadmi Party!
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