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.