Why should the Aam Aadmi Party be trusted again?
There are many people asking why Aam Aadmi Party resigned, if it was serious about governance and why it should be trusted again if it did this. These, in my view are invented doubts (I’ll come to that later) and the real issue is that whether or not you like what the Aam Aadmi Party did when it came to power, because electing them again will mean more of that, and if you want more of that then electing them again will bring it back.
To begin with, do people feel betrayed by Arvind Kejriwal’s report? Here’s what AajTak found.
In my view, all the propaganda from all sides apart, there were several things I liked about the Aam Aadmi Party being in power. The biggest of these, for me was the fact that the government could be questioned openly and robustly and unlimited. While many Aam Aadmi Party supporters are a little bitter about the constant questioning of the Delhi government, and I have no hesitations admitting that it is disproportionate (I think the actions of the Delhi government were scrutinized on National media with more rigor than the actions of National government.) I do think that this is not just about targeting the Aam Aadmi Party, but also a natural response to the potential for getting real answers. The Aam Aadmi Party has leaders who speak freely on interviews no matter the questions asked, no matter if the subject is one that has already caused trouble for the party.
Another important thing that the Aam Aadmi Party proved invaluable on is listening. It isn’t just about mohalla sabhas and crowd sourced manifestos, but it is an attitude of having an active interest in accumulating agenda points that emerge from the masses. This is so unprecedented that our media really doesn’t have much of a response for it. Ours is a country where people who want something must protest, get brutalized, then slandered and finally derailed and *if* by some miracle the government does accept their demands, you can be sure there is an election on the horizon.
The idea that you can simply tell the government about the problems you face and the government will take them seriously, take your inputs on how they should be solved, because you have seen them the longest is… baffling. “Aam Aadmi Party doesn’t know how to govern!” because of course, governance would be getting skillful control of people in the interpretation of prevailing politics of the country, and it is irrelevant to making it easier for people to live and thrive. You see top journaists too operating from this warped understanding of governance. I actually got one tweeted response asking me “Do you think a government should give people anything they ask for?” Erm… well, why not? Isn’t that the whole idea of democracy? That elected representatives govern in a manner that people need and want to thrive? Particularly since no harm from doing it is specified!
And this includes all kinds of people. Farmer organizations, anti-nuclear activists, tribals, water users, electricity users…. anyone who needs to get a better deal from their country. They are providing a platform for them to go and engineer a better life for themselves. If India had a functioning political left, this is what it would have done. But is Aam Aadmi Party leftist? I don’t think so. Just yesterday, I saw a video of Kejriwal telling industrialists that he doesn’t think the government should do business, and offered to understand their problems and ease factors undermining their ability to thrive and do good business as well. The way I look at it, this is just…. governance.
A third thing I like about the Aam Aadmi Party is the speed. While media noticed the speed of Arvind Kejriwal requesting government accommodation (which he is entitled to, not as a corrupt favor as implied, particularly on Times Now) and there was a morbid fixation on the details of his privilege, less advertized is the fact that the Aam Aadmi Party had already acted on several important issues as diverse as stopping Primary teacher exams because of a paper leak to ordering audits of Power discoms. From transferring corrupt officials in the Delhi Jal Board to ordering night shelters.
Perhaps it is the disproportionate attention, but the governments that came to power from other states that had elections on the same day have not been reported to be getting into any major activity. Certainly not at this rapid pace. After weeks of taunts by Aam Aadmi Party supporters asking what Vasundhara Raje is up to in Rajasthan, her supporters proudly shared her “Maharani” (I am not joking or getting personal, that is how the article is – emphasizing her royal status) pre-election 11 day tour with other bjp ministers and government officials to the Bharatpur area. A tour that ignores elected ministers from other parties and includes bjp candidates who lost to others instead. On government funds. Running public sabhas of the sort every politician and his cousin does with elections coming up – as the article itself admits. She does do some rapid problem solving and troubleshooting ranging from broken transformers to pointing out slides placed wrong in a school. I am sure she means well, but is this “performance max”? Not by a long shot.
So are there different standards for measuring performance by Aam Aadmi Party and other parties? I think so. But regardless of this, it cannot be denied that the Aam Aadmi Party has moved very rapidly with actions in citizen interest. The reports of reduced corruption in the city itself are dramatic. Every citizen with a phone has basically become an empowered sting journalist with the weight of the state behind them. Had. No idea if this will continue with the resignation of the government. In theory any government could do it, but it is now a 67 year old country and no one had bothered to rein in the petty beggars in the system.
And the resignation is part of the rapid action. It is no secret that the government has obstructed the Jan Lokpal bill from the start. Most importantly, the major parties do not want the government to lose control of the CBI and do not want any accountability imposed on its politicians they manage to get elected into places which can reap profits. And this goes beyond Janlokpal, we saw it with the CIC order regarding RTI for political parties and the sheer LIES that were shamelessly told to prevent major parties from coming under the RTI. I bet you didn’t notice that the CIC has “misplaced” the file with the orders to bring political parties under RTI. To date, the only two political parties compliant with the RTI are Loksatta Party and Aam Aadmi Party – neither of them among the 6 parties ordered to appoint a Public Information Officer.
Under such circumstances, and with the prevailing media and political slander, I agree completely with Arvind Kejriwal that the Janlokpal bill was not going to be passed and it would only be yet another method of wasting time. I disagree with criticis that there was no harm in waiting. I think delays are an important method used by the cartels entrenched in power to erode the momentum off demands of accountability and justice. The more powerful can always afford to wait out the less powerful challenge. And regardless of whether I agree with the Janlokpal Bill, the fact is that it has been successfully derailed for 4 years now and Aam Aadmi Party got votes with the promise of passing it.
Shouldn’t there at least have been a public referendum? I don’t think so. The Aam Aadmi Party had been very clear on the Janlokpal Bill and Swaraj Bill as their core agenda. They got votes on the basis of that. What further remains to ask? In the case of referendum on forming the government, it was something big that they did not have the public approval on. Not so about the Janlokpal Bill.
I completely agree that without the strength in the house, the Bill was doomed to fail through procedural jugglery. In my view, pulling the plug on the bullshit was a brilliant move by Arvind Kejriwal. The people can decide. If they want more of the electric governance of 49 days, they will vote Aam Aadmi Party into power. If they don’t want it, they will vote whoever they want into power. I don’t really understand what the big deal is about, unless it is a sneaking suspicion that people do want what the Aam Aadmi Party is doing and that is…. inconvenient and itchy.
As for the Aam Aadmi Party “betraying” people…. I gotta laugh at this. bjp got the most votes in Delhi. Refused to form a government. That wasn’t betrayal. bjp challenged Aam Aadmi Party to form a government and said it would be a betrayal of Aam Aadmi Party’s voters if they didn’t form a government (like bjp betrayed theirs?). Aam Aadmi Party did a public consultation and formed the government. bjp and Congress spent most of their time criticizing it and asking for resignations. Remember bjp has the most votes, so bjp criticizing and demanding resignations would be representative of Majority thought? So Aam Aadmi Party did as per the will of the people, which bjp and Congress apparently have a problem with as well. Who the heck are we fooling here?
The only problem here is that the people used to clinging to chairs with everything in them did not anticipate that power would be easily given up on a matter of principle. They would have liked to create another never ending tamasha limbo of accusations and defending and rigging up public opinion and general perception mongering for the National elections rather than the immediate welfare of Delhi.
THAT is the betrayal AAP did. In resigning too, kept the focus solidly on Delhi’s needs and prevented their opinions being bartered by parties for profit on National level.
I’d love to have an Aam Aadmi Party government.