Suggestions for Aam Aadmi Party moving forward

By | May 18, 2014

The Lok Sabha Election is lost. The Delhi Government is abandoned. There are many mistakes and it is water under the bridge now. What is important is that lessons are learned so that the rest of the journey escapes this downward spiral.

The most worrying thing for AAP right now is the lack of awareness of just how badly they have fucked up this election and their prospects. While it is good that Yogendra Yadav is at least showing his face after the result unlike the irresponsible Kejriwal, it is alarming to see Yogendra Yadav speak of the result as a positive thing on TV, completely ignoring the utter decimation of AAP. 4 seats in Punjab were done with very little guidance from the core leaders. The core leaders are nowhere to be seen. The efforts of countless volunteers, donors, voters laid waste with not one voice vocal on core policy of AAP entering Parliament. This is not how you uproot corruption.

There seems to be some utopian belief that these things take time and people should wait or join the Party. This is false from what I saw. AAP was more than ready and completely engaged for a far better result. What happened was the leadership completely mismanaging the Election. Total failure to anticipate the public thinking and choose actions for desired impact. The Congress credibility was decimated majorly due to AAP, even if BJP reaped the full results. The BJP credibility actually got strengthened with random strategy. It was not impossible if AAP had stayed on its own track. AAP became something people did not recognize in the process. Not only there seems to be no recognition of that, you have Yogendra Yadav being okay with party growing at its own pace, volunteers volunteering, those leaving not being committed and all kinds of nonsense. Like some new age ashram watching the world unfold with detachment. That is quite a switch from immediately contesting against biggest leaders of biggest parties and further confuses people. If there is no hurry, what was Varanasi and Amethi at the cost of many other seats about?

Volunteers delivered with unprecedented commitment. You had people coming from across the country on their own budgets to support you in Varanasi.

Right now, you have AAP as a party that speaks up against high command culture unable to visualize leaders beyond Arvind Kejriwal who is the final word on everything. Your core reason for existing – the Janlokpal Bill and Swaraj bill have been rendered near impossible in the Delhi Assembly. Incidentally, this is the Delhi Assembly you also quit because you couldn’t deliver them and have since got decimated in, in the Lok Sabha Election with Kejriwal who promised the people the world and being there for them and then resigned and vanished and not even contested from there again because he’s chasing Modi. You are going to be faced with asking for votes knowing fully that you cannot deliver the Janlokpal Bill and Swaraj Bill because if the UPA blocked it before, a BJP majority is hardly going to pass it now – in the extremely unlikely chance you manage to form a government. Oh. Did I mention Delhi police will be controlled by the party whose workers normally thrash yours? And if you whined about paid media before, elections will be called very soon, and media will have completely legitimate reasons to rave about Modi after his stupendous recent win, AND rave about BJP’s complete sweep about Delhi in the Lok Sabha Election AND legitimately discuss the AAP complete decimation in the same Delhi in the same Lok Sabha Election AND Modi will be  living in Delhi AND gives interviews happily now, AND any paid media to cover if an inch of AAP still remains visible. If media was Modified before, with UPA2 in rule, you don’t even want to think about it now with Modi as PM.

Whoever thinks this isn’t a disaster for the party is delusional. Leaders included.

From what was essentially about convincing voters that it was their best interest that made Delhi govt resign, campaigning for Lok Sabha among people and being well established by the time this vulnerable campaigning came up, the mismanagement of the Lok Sabha Election strategy has brought AAP to this point. Not to mention undoubtedly contributing to the BJP solo majority, instead of weakening it.

This is defeat, and the road ahead is tougher than it was for the new party even. The sooner the party leadership realizes this, the better.

Realizing it will be a problem. The AAP leadership seems to have fallen into the habit of arrogance and tall claims and not listening. People quitting AAP may have false agendas, but you cannot deny that every single person brings up the lack of democracy, and when I said the leadership should be accountable, those within too said that AAP cannot be without Kejriwal in the top spot. When so many views converge on one point, whatever the motivation, there is essence to that point striking a note without fail.

In my view, the AAP leadership needs to be accountable for misusing the tremendous support and delivering a damp squib.

This is my anger. Because my support for the election got misused too. I endorsed the Aam Aadmi Party, and from what would likely be a coalition government I got a clean majority for the party I do not believe capable of governing diversity to the point of the opposition not even having a leader. This is the very worst result I can imagine, and AAP played a role in making it possible when it quit its original plank and got into personality politics and religions. Arvind Kejriwal’s historic speech asking if he should contest from Varanasi was all about Ambani and did not once mention Swaraj, instead claiming that it was the will of the Gods.

I would like Arvind Kejriwal to accept that it was the will of the Gods that he does not proceed on this path. Why else would eeshwar, allah and wahe guru conspire to deliver such a result while fooling him that he was winning?

The task ahead is formidable and this post is not intended to only complain, but also offer the ideas that occur to me.

The first and biggest suggestion.

Arvind Kejriwal should resign as national convenor.

This isn’t merely about my anger for him and his reckless speech continually committing AAP to consequences it cannot bear (God’s will turning out to be defeat, grand statements of not allying with parties, even grander claims of uprooting corruption that ended with Adani-Ambani’s party so secure in win). It is also strategy.

Arvind Kejriwal is a thinker, a motivator, a public leader. Being convenor and managing everything about the party burdens him with responsibilities others can handle, and make him less available for what he does best – public outreach. If he appears exhausted in his public appearances, belief in AAP’s ability to handle the responsibility it is seeking drops.

His responsibility should solely be campaigning. Not even contesting ideally, but I suppose that can’t be avoided initially. The time freed from ALL the other responsibilities will allow him to deliver better speeches instead of repeating content, track and respond to current happenings better and will do a world of good to AAP’s image which has increasingly sounded repetitive. This will also make him more available to campaign wherever he is needed – which was one of the killing blows for this election – including for Kumar Vishvas.

Yogendra Yadav should resign as strategist

Unless I am mistaken, contesting from maximum seats was Yogendra Yadav’s idea. Combined with the disproportionate funding for Varanasi, it left few resources for other candidates and failed and it destroyed AAP’s chances in the places it could win as well by dividing funds, volunteers, public figures and more to the point where resources weren’t enough for all the places. This is directly responsible for AAP’s decimation and a blunder that cannot be brushed away by merely saying he’ll keep at it and one day he will get it right. Using public effort and funds, making public promises obliges Aam Aadmi Party to seek most efficient ways of achieving representation.

Further, there were many comments on Twitter about inappropriate candidate selection in Haryana leading to demotivated volunteers there. This is a serious organizational problem and must be addressed with adequate feedback from volunteers on the ground.

As a senior member of AAP, he probably can take over more of Kejriwal’s admin work to free him further. Or something. Which brings me to…

Strategy must be evolved by those deploying it

This was done in the Delhi Assembly campaign already. Volunteers came up with their own ideas and it was a rocking success. Volunteers know what they can pull off, which may not necessarily be hopping across the country in the wake of their inspiration to pull off a miracle there. It could be, but perhaps there could be better ideas too. They know where there are opportunities to pull off something. Candidates putting their reputations and money on the line know what support they need.

A new leadership

AAP cannot grow without a vibrant leadership, and key organizational goals should be developed with specific people taking charge independently. They should be open to input but not dependent on any external approvals to function. This will let the organization grow. You cannot have an National Party that cannot function if core person is not there. AAP has to decide. Is it an Arvind fan club, or is it a movement for self representation and transformation of politics?

If there is space made on the top so that vital roles are not clustered with a few people, then a leadership will emerge naturally, just like AAP emerged when the country needed a change. If there is clustered control at the top, then there is neither the need nor the opportunity for the leadership to emerge.

How to grow?

I am only going to share Swarmwise – Rick Falkvinge’s book on how he formed and grew the Pirate Party – which isn’t all that different from AAP when it comes to origins or funds. It is full of good ideas, most of them directly useful for AAP – for example public lists of tasks that volunteers can take on and complete on their own initiative, or formation of a team to respond to current affairs within the hour with press statements – this is free publicity media uses – media wants responses to quote when something happens. There are many ideas and insights on what kind of thinking helped the most.

Forming new policies

AAP is going to need a list of concrete deliverables that they can deliver without fearing sabotage by the central government. Whether the sabotage is real or a perception or absent, it cannot be predicted, and AAP cannot afford to resign a second time, no matter what. So creating deal breakers out of Janlokpal Bill or Swaraj Bill will no longer work, though of course the government will fight to make it happen.

This will probably be a good time to promise social efforts – whatever they are – RTI education workshops, or monthly outreach meetings or whatever – that AAP will deliver regardless of whether they win or lose. These should be things that cement the bond with people and improve the quality of public life and public thinking. Because there is a real possibility that AAP will be in the opposition.

Perhaps this can be introduced as a tradition wherever AAP contests. Whether government is formed or not, our elected candidates will deliver these five things in addition to the manifesto points we will work to make possible even in opposition and guarantee will happen if we form a government. AAP needs to start delivering. No matter how small. But concrete.

Return to values

Strip down personality politics completely. Speak values. Respond to specifics without making personality wars. We oppose corruption. We oppose this corrupt action by this person without considering him a lifelong enemy or using his name as a slur. We oppose this policy for business houses because of this reason but the same business house may do its legal business with our complete support. No one is fully good or bad. No citizen or business can be disenfranchised. Wrongs must be stopped, not citizens – no matter how rich or poor.

Promise less, deliver more

AAP’s promise is its manifesto that it will strive to deliver. The rest does not need comment. Whether AAP will ally with parties or not, whether AAP will resign or not, whether this is God’s will for people or not. Whatever. Stick to your goals and make no promises that are not in writing. It will leave you free to respond to the best of your ability if your plan fails without accusations of breaking your word further harming reputation.

Ditch religion ASAP

Accept support from all – religions, castes, class, criminals, saints, kids, old, women, men, whatever. Care for the interests of all. But do not make special offers to any that were not requested for. Forbid all public representatives from religious tokenism as a means of outreach. Other parties do it better and it is completely irrelevant to AAP agenda. Sure, schedule things to not interfere with religions, but stopping a party event for namaz or anything is unnecessary and inappropriate. Adult Muslims can manage their need to pray without needing the party leadership to give them five minutes to do their thing. An official pause takes you into unnecessary terrain you don’t have the capability to handle. Even if you have never intended communal hate.

Appreciating the support

It isn’t as “granted” as Yogendra Yadav said. Aam Aadmi Party has remarkably involved and motivated supporters, but they are not an infinite resource where the resource is of poor quality if it discontinues. Being blamed for the failures of leadership will reduce support and demotivate. It is important that this support be acknowledged, and its squandering in the Lok Sabha Elections be accounted. AAP volunteers are labourers of love. They don’t want heads to roll still, it seems. I am amazed. I, for one will be very wary about committing months of support in the future without being certain that it is accepted with gravity in the direction it is put to use. But they should at the very least get concrete recognition of failures and measures taken to see that their valuable contributions are not wasted. This should be an open, humble and accountable process by leaders.

This should happen soon, before campaigning for Delhi starts, because the volunteers are still on the Election high. Most have not realized the changing ground realities they will face, which will make things difficult for them and lead to drops in support. AAP needs support. It isn’t as callous as dismissing people voluntarily contributing generously as not committed if they stop. If the apology comes before they realize and it values them, and prepares them to collectively face a tougher time for a goal worth achieving, then the support will be stronger – AAP will need that now.

Good Luck!

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11 thoughts on “Suggestions for Aam Aadmi Party moving forward

  1. Jackson

    Mr. Kejriwal you are an asshole .
    Bringing odd-even formula to the 2-wheelers as well won’t help reducing the pollution as they hardly cause any pollution .
    Delhi’s 70% pollution is dependent on their two-wheelers .
    This is sick .
    I don’t know what are you trying to prove .

    Reply
  2. Vaibhav

    thelogicalindian.com/story-feed/tech/­jamshedpur-a-city-in-jharkhand-uses-plastic-waste-to-make-roads/

    Jamshedpur, a city in the state of Jharkhand, is setting an example when it comes to recycling Plastics and putting it to use.They are using plastic waste to construct roads. We have to keep in mind that plastics are non-biodegradable substance and is very hard to dispose of.
    Plastic waste is collected from across the city and brought to 10 collection centers. The waste is then broken down by shredding it to 2 mm to 4 mm before processing it further. Plastic waste is then mixed with Bitumen, an oil based substance, used as a common binder in road construction.
    * Jamshedpur Utilites and Services Company(Jusco), a subidiary company of Tatal steel, has undertaken an initiave to use plastic waste for road construction in Jamshedpur.
    * Till now, 48 to 50 kms of roads has been constructed under this project.
    * Bitumen Technology(Dry Process) patented by Thiagarajar College of Engineering (TCE), Tirupparankuram, Madurai is being used on plastic waste to construct roads.
    * The roads construced using this technology are of better quality and don’t require maintenance in first five years.
    * Now, all the roads in Jamshedpur uses 20 to 30 percent plastic waste mixed with bitumen.
    * For every one km long and four metre wide road made using this technology, one tonne of bitumen costing Rs 50,000 is saved.
    Jusco has recieved requests from many states for replicating the technology but JUSCO has no plans of commercialising this discovery, only to use it to serve society. Ambikapur, in the state of Chhattisgarh too has tried this technology.
    No wonder, Jamshedpur is the 7th cleanest city in India.

    Reply
  3. shelke vishnukant

    Muze dukh me sath Aap chhodni padi sabh samaz mein aaya

    Reply
  4. Shwetank Gupta

    I had sent this mail to “parivartanindia@gmail.com” but I got no response. So I am copying the my mail contents here as well:
    Subject: FeedBack on your performance [For Arvind Kejriwal]
    Hi Arvind Sir,
    I am one of the AAP political movement supporter. In this mail I would like to raise my points against some of your decisions and expecting a reply from your end.
    1- Decison to leave Delhi: Sir, there are lot of things to do beside passing Jan LokPal Bill. You can do Dharna or fight in Vidhan Sabha for passing this Bill, but you had left the government and crushing the expectation of the Delhi citizens.
    2- Use of communal language by Shazia Ilmi: We are supporting AAP movement, as for us it is above caste base politics. Shazia just makes me feel ashamed.
    3- Immaturity in handling Media especially by Mr. Somnath Bharti and Gopal Rai: These guys don’t know how to answer diplomatically.
    4- Use of abusive and un-responsible language: We will never support bad languages in the discussion or debates. Please, respect your opponent and raised your concerns only on development models. Arvind ji, how can you take the name of the girl exploited in the Snoopgate case, its really shameful.
    5- Fighting against Modi: Please, did’t say that I will not appreciate your decision to fight against BJP because I am a BJP supporter, Modi has no corruption charges and he is not that bad, we want people like you to come in power, we are not here to waste our muscle, money and power every-time on your hasteful and immature decisions, See your performance in Delhi, it is really shameful, infact now you have just stopped our hopes to look you as a next CM candidate in Delhi.
    5- Don’t always criticize others, learn to appreciate work of others as well.

    Sir, please, consider my concerns seriously, FYI, i had volunteered for AAP in Delhi elections and donated some amount both for the VidhanSabha and LokSabha elections.

    Please, accept your mistakes and learn from the same. I am realy feeling sad for Mr. Kumar Vishwas, I have no regrets on your defeat because as per me, It was a mistake made by you and we all have faced a defeat, if you would fight against Rahul Gandhi or let Mr.Kumar Vishwas to fight from Amethi and you fight from Rai Barelli, you guys would be more able to educate the citizens of these constituencies.

    Reply
  5. Aam aadmi

    Dear author,
    Your anger with AAP, while understandable, is misplaced to a large extent and is what seems to be a knee-jerk reaction. Once some time passes by and you look at it again, you will yourself realise this.
    Maybe AAP’s strategy was not well thought out and could have been better planned. But hindsight is always 20/20. If AAP had done well and won more seats, you would have been all praise for the party. If Kejriwal and Vishwas had won, you would have no-doubt called their moves masterstrokes. But unfortunately it didn’t (though 4 seats is not all that bad as even some well-established, money-&-cadre-rich parties like BSP, DMK, JD(U), RJD, SAD, JMM etc have got either zero or less than 4 seats and others like NCP, SP, LJP etc have got only 1-2 more despite all these parties easily spending minimum 1000-times more money on campaign).
    It’s difficult competing on such an uneven pitch- the BJP’s propaganda wave saw massive amounts of money invested in it and this propaganda has been a clear factor in the results turning out the way they did (the other major factor being the rotten-to-the-core Congress party that has facilitated this scenario through all the corruption, scams, missteps, etc, etc over 10 years).
    It is difficult to just form a new party, and in less than a year or two win 50+ seats in parliament with meagre resources like AAP’s. Also, the elections came too soon for AAP post the Delhi polls (where they didn’t get a majority and were constrained by circumstances to first form the govt due to public pressure, and then to resign as Jan Lokpal was their single biggest cause of existence and pre-poll promise) hence they couldn’t campaign properly and the clear anti-AAP media bias to compounded this problem.
    In the larger scheme of things, AAP probably contested so many seats in the 2014 poll with the national party goal in mind and also gave people a new, clean platform if they so wished for one; unfortunately people didn’t and were swayed by propaganda and lies.
    Though AAP may have not won many seats, they have managed to now get at least some presence (however little) in so many constituencies nationwide; this process would have otherwise taken much longer. And the 2% vote share nationally is also encouraging. It is now time to build on that. AAP is in it for the long haul. So things can only get better, not worse.
    I was as extremely disappointed and upset as you and millions of other AAP supporters when the results came in. But this was partly because our expectations were so high after the Delhi assembly results.
    AAP will now analyse the errors, strategy shortcomings and other points and work on these. AAP will do much better in forthcoming assembly polls in different states as people by and large choose national parties at parliamentary level, and regional/smaller parties at state level.
    Though the situation may definitely seem hopeless right now (with fascism looming large), we can all hope that better days are most likely ahead.

    Reply
  6. Anand

    I don’t agree with this article like many other Aam Aadmi supporters…Modi could win because he totally bought the Media. AAP strategy was right and would win seats if media were to be neutral. It would be better if AAP focuses on Media strategy now.

    Reply
    1. Vidyut Post author

      This is really no excuse. That media would be biased was a known factor. It will be worse now. If AAP can’t get around that, then there is no point, no?

      Reply
  7. sujatha

    To be frank,I feel your reactions are a bit over the top.The fact is that this election has been a classic example of an expensive,brilliant advertising and marketing strategy by the BJP,based on exaggerated claims about Modi and the Gujarat model-it is difficult for parties like AAP with its limited resources to match it.But the problem with this kind of advertising is that it has raised expectations to sky high levels and the greater the expectations,the greater the disappointment.I think it is just a matter of time before reality and disappointment with the BJP sets in and thats when the other parties will start clawing back in.And thats when the AAP also will start regaining.Until then,the AAP just needs to analyse and learn-we have to give them a chance to learn from the experiences they have had so far.Afterall ,they are new in politics-resigning is hardly the answer.One has to be cool headed and patient-Rome was not built in a day….

    Reply
  8. Sujit

    Excellant analysis! and your suggestions are spot on! After Delhi, I saw a fresh new hope in Indian Politics and ardently supported and volunteered, though at times, I was perplexed with some of the decisions. I feel the Modi bashing was unnecessary at this stage. That Modi was going to be the future was a known fact, AAP would definitely have had a chance to take on Modi in the next 5 years.

    Reply
  9. Raja

    Good one, Vidyut. Liked the previous (open letter) too. Although I think you might be a bit harsh, considering there was the Modi wave – and it swept just about everything in front of it.

    Anyway, one other thing #AAP can do to keep people’s faith in it, is to continue its activism on issues. This might be even more important now, given the huge power of the BJP. People will still believe that if they want somebody to voice their issues, #AAP is that party. If you can’t do this from within Parliament, you can still do it from outside.

    Reply
  10. ak-47

    absolutely correct. I support resigination of Arvind kejriwal. If he can resign on priciple once he should resign once again

    Reply

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