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12

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!

29

Dear friends,

I had supported Aam Aadmi Party before the Delhi Elections, and now again before the Lok Sabha Elections, and as this stint of support comes to a close, there are a few hard truths (at least truths according to me) that need to be said.

Firstly and most importantly, this is a categoric defeat for Aam Aadmi Party at the polls. We can use platitudes like saying even one or two AAP politicians in the Parliament will make a difference. We can point to BJP's meager two seats the first time it contested elections, this does not change the fact that Aam Aadmi Party has lost horrendously.

There are four AAP MPs now, and that is always a good thing, but let us not fool ourselves or anyone that BJP's two seat show the first time it contested was anything but defeat either. We are talking about an increased vote share in Delhi, a good showing in Punjab. What no one is talking about is that AAP had put up candidates NATIONWIDE. From winning slightly less than half the seats contested in Delhi, AAP has dropped to winning 1% of seats it contested - none of whom had a role in National leadership or even campaigned outside their areas. Not a single AAP public figure won. This has a lot of feedback, if you are not busy not looking at it.

Naturally, the fight was tougher. There were more parties in the fray, the stakes were higher, the media was more biased....  we can list out the difficulties. Perhaps some candidates will get disqualified and some more AAP people may get in. Still, for every 100 seats contested, AAP won 1. This, by no means is a reflection of the voice of the people. This already fails at the "bhrasht raajneeti ukhad ke phek denge" campaign talk.

Still worse was to talk down the nationwide efforts and throw down the gauntlet at Varanasi and Amethi to make what was till then a contest of values into a clash between personalities. I am not talking of the decision to field strong candidates against strong leaders - that was important, but the decision to make the whole fight boil down to the two seats - Varanasi and Amethi.

The strategy of covering as many seats as possible failed too. It spread resources too thin, perhaps. Money, volunteers, candidates.

Those seats are lost. The damage that did to party prospects nationwide cannot be replaced in another five years. AAP didn't make it as a National Party. The loudest AAP voices did not get into the Parliament - which both Kumar Vishwas and Arvind Kejriwal would have, if they had contested from where their strength was, instead of chasing targets to take down. There would be more seats won, if the focus was spread nationwide. This is, by no means a small price to pay in terms of morale for a party that operates on a shoestring budget and whose volunteers often braved physical assault, injury and death to hold it high.

To me, this signifies a comprehensive leadership failure, even as the volunteers worked their hearts out.

The focus on vote banks - particularly by communities instead of livelihoods alone, as in the Delhi elections allowed room for far more skilled established parties to play completely on their home turf. This undoubtedly contributed to BJP's landslide victory as well. People lost touch with what they thought AAP was in the prime time leading to the elections.

This will have an impact on the upcoming Delhi Assembly Elections as well, because BJP WILL capitalize on this win with an immediate call for elections. That vacuum that no one wanted to touch after the AAP govt quit is gone. Far more work will be needed to capture that space back.

It was a gamble. A gamble that failed with far reaching consequences for the party. In my view, the party leadership including Arvind Kejriwal should step down, and new role holders elected with consent from core AAP leaders. Candidates, state convenors, key workers should be consulted. Perhaps Arvind Kejriwal may still get elected as National convenor, but he should step down and be considered on the basis of merit.

When I suggested this on Twitter, many were of the opinion that there are no other suitable leaders. This, incidentally is the argument both BJP and Congress had for never looking beyond Modi and Rahul Gandhi. If AAP is a people's movement without people's leaders, then it probably should forget about being a National Party. But I don't think that is the case, just like it isn't with the Congress party. There are leaders, if the party is willing to look beyond the usual suspects. There is also nothing preventing existing leaders to come back in their roles with the agreement of the party, but that democracy must be enacted before it is claimed for the country.

This opportunity should also be used to step back from the Nationwide hurry to expand (since it is a lot of time before another national election now) and a more robust organization should be built, with more leaders and role holders nominated so that mistakes of this election are not repeated in the Assembly elections to follow.

Role holders cannot be selected for inspiration alone. You need better strategists, better students of policy, thinkers, workers, leaders, organizers..... Arvind Kejriwal cannot be everything. Part of his failure also was he was doing too much to sustain. It simply was not possible for one person to do with any efficiency, and there appeared to be no one else. It is time the party grew to decentralize responsibility that converges on the goals rather than people and the goals need to be revisited as well. Does the journey so far indicate need to drop anything, add anything, refine something?

This defeat should be a lesson, if Aam Aadmi Party is to live up to its name. The people need to know exactly what they will get, and accusations of corruptions against parties and business houses ain't it. AAP needs to see where their talk of Swaraj moved to Ambani and Adani. When their talk of distance from communal politics became about kudrat ka karishma and eeshwar, allah, wahe guru. AAP needs to find itself.

I used to say this often, before stopping making suggestions when they stopped being taken. AAP cannot afford to get derailed. AAP has an agenda to represent people and take up their fundamental needs as a political agenda. That cannot be deviated from, for God, religion, community, scam, political targets or anything, if AAP has to survive.

But then that is a decision for you to take as a party. As an observer who has often stood shoulder to shoulder with your volunteers, I can only say what it looks like from where I am standing.

If the tall claims and nationwide reach and big talk hadn't happened, I do think 4 MPs is a good start. In any case, it always beats not having any MPs in Parliament.

But if Aam Aadmi Party is not to be a one night wonder, brutal as it sounds, it needs to go back to the basics and build up from there again.

Good luck, and I hope we walk together again, if I see Aam Aadmi Party, a worthy party being discriminated against by media and feel compelled to raise my voice to resist the imbalance.

Vidyut

7

As I write this post, no results are declared yet, but it is looking like BJP will have a clear majority without allies being needed. Needless to say, this is a deeply disappointing result for me, and one that I don't believe has been fair. Regardless, that is what it is, and I must accept it. Clearly my predictions were wrong.

That BJP would do better was a given. That it would do so much better was not. I offer my extremely grudging congratulations to them for winning the election, unless some late miracle happens.

Let me not mince words. I don't trust the BJP. I don't perceive them as having any interest in India as a whole, and I consider them opportunists without ethics who will leave no stone unturned, whether ethical or not, whether legal or not, to get Modi on the throne. I find their regressive and often false views on many things ranging from religion to sexuality and from economics to free speech extremely alarming. I don't believe this is a good time for India that is unfolding.

There is still hope that the BJP will fold under the weight of its own facade, but that is dim, since a good victory bolsters many things.

The only thing that remains is to hope that Modi's God complex makes him rein in the fascists enough that his name is not tarred. A country is resilient, but when you have a right wing party with a known propensity to rewrite history and facts to taste coming to majority, it is clear that our steps down the Pakistan path of self-destruction just got faster, because politics that thrives on hate does not stop finding objects of hate.

About the Congress, there is a seething anger. From being the party that built the nation, it has become one with its head stuck so high up its dynastic ass, that they are simply unable to move from defaults that have failed over and over and this is the greatest reason for Modi's win. In my view, corruption is one thing, an arrogant persistence in doing the same things that get resisted over and over to the point where your leaders publicly raise the alarm of growing right wing influence in country and STILL do the same things driving people away is a spectacular self-destruction that takes the nation down to the dark ages with it.

Or perhaps that was the point. That the power not exit the closed loop of Congress and BJP, so that when Congress defeat was clear, they ensured a BJP win.

Aam Aadmi Party lost its way and its momentum when Arvind Kejriwal signed up to fight from Varanasi against Modi. Regardless of whether he wins or loses, the AAP track changed drastically to something people were not expecting and didn't need from them. In my view, it was this shift more than the Delhi resignation that impacted AAP's prospects. Two things in particular stand out, if anyone is taking notes.

The first was Arvind Kejriwal's horrendous speech where he asked for the people's mandate to fight from Varanasi, where he reduced a nationwide fight to one that happened in two constituencies. This devalued nationwide efforts and created a perception that they were of no consequence in comparison with the Varanasi and Amethi results. This, in my view also had an impact on voters, who probably understood it to mean that AAP hadn't fully launched nationwide in terms of focus - which was a completely unnecessary self-sabotage.

The second was when Arvind Kejriwal suddenly went on a God overdose with the kudrat ka karishma and bhagwan and allah and wahe guru and what not. Gods are governing themselves well and the issue was completely irrelevant to governance. From that point on, there is a visible increase of religious symbolism in AAP's public presence, culminating with the infamous Shazia Ilmi "communal" video. AAP got neatly slotted as the new voice of Muslims and anything else to the contrary remained under wraps. In other words, AAP tried to play a game Indian politicians are long time masters of, and was a spectacularly stupid move when opposing a right wing party, which only needed a whiff to claim "proofs" of its propaganda.

And there is a third. AAP mistook its ability to rattle cartels for its ability to win over entrenched corruption. As a result, cartels have won, and the AAP game plan is in disarray. They are going to need to go back to the drawing board and figure out who they are and what they stand for and what they want to achieve.

It is not the end of the world, elections come and go in a democracy, but I suspect India is about to find out just how difficult it is to grab control from the right wing. I don't know any place in the world where it has been easy. For the simple reason, the right wing has a default tendency to create illusions of reality. The unquestioning make "informed decisions" that lead to what their leaders want them to do. And with state control, speaking truth to power has higher stakes.

For the media, this is my only happy part of this election. I do hope you get the government you campaigned for. Just remember, when your offices get vandalized at any hint of a spine, I am going to LAUGH. Black humor, yes, but I do think you will deserve it thoroughly.

For the minorities, religious, gender or any other, including thought. The time is to keep your head down, think strategy more than grand gestures. Change will be needed, you will need it most desperately, but you will also need to be heard in ways that can't be silenced easily.

Lastly, our intellectuals. If there is anyone who has lost more than the Congress, it is India's intellectuals. The thinking few who are able to articulate higher thought for others to understand. Who are able to see deeper than facades people are led to. They remained in the armchair. The intellectual laziness of not thinking through important thoughts for the country and being able to prioritize on the basis of their urgency brings us to a point where they will be soon reduced to where Pakistan's intellectuals are. In one token corner of the media that very few read.

For me? I am back to where I was before AAP. There is no hope in politics, and this country will devolve till there remains nothing to steal, or too unsafe. We are not going to rise till we hit bottom, which will be a very shitty place to be in, by the time we get there and perhaps there will not be much to salvage.

The only hope will come from elevating thought. There are no movements for it yet.

Time to go back to my highest belief about India.

The next freedom struggle will be for minds.

2

If one were to hear the Congress criticism of BJP, one would imagine that misuse of state machinery is a BJP trait with all the snoop gate and fake encounters. Yet what happened in Amethi is hardly different.

After a month of routine attacks by Congress workers on Aam Aadmi Party volunteers, the end of campaigning before the polling saw a new phase of enlightenment. Congress fell back to its classic tactic. Weaponizing state machinery. I have remarked before, that if BJP's targets suffer violence from supposedly unaffiliated random Senas and Dals, people Congress targets find themselves on the wrong side of the law from the complaints of anyone except the Congress. We saw it when Kapil Sibal did an about turn on his attempt to control free speech two years ago. A random lawyer still got the "objectionable content" he had a problem with banned through courts. The Janlokpal Andolan saw similar moves. Now it is the same in Amethi.

The Amethi police woke up to the Representation of the People Act last night. The act says, “the presence of political functionaries, party workers, procession functionaries and campaign functionaries etc who have been brought from outside the constituency and who are not voters of the constituency, should not continue to remain present in the constituency as their continued presence after campaign ends may undermine the atmosphere for free and fair poll.’

In a bizarre twist of interpretation, they have interpreted it to mean all AAP supporting non-voters in Amethi. Whether they are party functionaries and campaigners or not. Including Kumar Vishwas's family, which isn't there merely to campaign, but have actually moved to Amethi, with his daughters enrolled in the local school. Sanctimonious Congressis are giving the example of how Siddaramaiah had to leave the Mysore constituency quite forgetting that he was also CM and promoting his party. Did every Congressi non-voter leave Mysore?

Police demanding that Dr. Kumar Vishwas's family leave Amethi in the middle of the night
Police demanding that Dr. Kumar Vishwas's family leave Amethi in the middle of the night

Late last night, the police cars blared on loudspeakers outside Kumar Vishwas' home asking all non-voters in his family to leave urgently or they would be arrested - including his wife and sister who have moved to Amethi with him and are now residents, even if not voters and not functionaries in the party.

When quick thinking AAP supporters alerted the media to the unfolding drama, the channels arrived, and the police slunk away. The police returned with their threats as soon as the channels left. Clearly the police did not want to be recorded with their illegal demands and creative thinking around not arresting women at night, merely trying to bully them into leaving home in the night. The channels left and the police returned and so far, other than stray reports in one or two people, media has most cooperatively managed to not see what the police did not want to show them.

The police on their part are claiming to carry out the Election Commission's orders, which raises questions about the neutrality and competence of the Election Commission in Amethi, since the orders seem to be directed at only one party.

In my opinion, this points to a larger conspiracy in Amethi, and the BJP silence bodes ill for Varanasi. An issue of this magnitude being carried out with such impunity and confidence about lack of objections by anyone except target, in my eyes indicates every possibility of a a reciprocal arrangement.

AAP MLA Akhilesh Pati Tripathi from Model Town was arrested.

AAP volunteers at police station on 6th morning
AAP volunteers at police station on 6th morning

Police confiscated the booth bags from volunteers in Aam Aadmi Party's Mohanganj office at 11:20 in the night and arrested 9 volunteers, at least one of whom updated that they were sleeping on the floor of the police station.

AAP volunteers in Amethi jail
AAP volunteers in Amethi jail

SDM of Mohanganj in Amethi has picked us up from our AAP office (where we were sleeping) in Mohanganj and has detained me and 9 other AAP members @ 2320 saying we are violating model code of conduct. We r @ Police Station sleeping on floor.

There have been reports of police taking away phones of anyone they saw trying to record the police actions at Kumar Vishwas's home.

Even as cars are parked outside the Munshiganj guest house where Congress functionaries and workers from outside the constituency are staying, even as AAP volunteers reported that a car involved in an attack on AAP workers was seen parked outside the Munshiganj guest house, it appears that the Amethi police do not expect the Representation of People Act to apply to the Congress. Nor has the exercise been repeated at the BJP offices. As with BJP not attacking Congress in Varanasi, Congress does not appear to be attacking BJP in Amethi, though they will, of course deny being hand in glove.

This leads me to wonder if a similar exercise will be carried out in Varanasi. Aam Aadmi Partywould do well to anticipate the tactic being repeated and be prepared to manage their presence in such an eventuality.

Here is a WhatsApp post from a volunteer in Amethi:

पुलिस कुमार भईया के घर पे है और कह रही है
भाभी को अमेठी से
जाना पड़ेगा क्योंकि उनके पास
अमेठी का voter id
नहीं है # 144InAmethi ..क्या स्मृति ईरानी ,राहुल
गाँधी और प्रियंका गाँधी के पास
है ...CONGRESS HAI HAI.
Hum b girefdari denge chahe jaan chle jaaye गिरफ्तारी सुरु हो चुकी है 10 आम
आदमी कार्यकर्ताओ को गिरफ्तार
किया गया ,मॉडल टाउन के विधयक
को भी गिरफ्तार किया गया पुलिस ने बूथ बैग
अपने कब्जे मे किये... Police back at @DrKumarVishwas' for
arresting his
wife. # 144inAmethi ...CONGRESS HAI
HAI Dr. Kumar Vishwas
रात 11 बजे पुलिस वाले मेरे अमेठी आवास पर
आए हैं, और उनका कहना है कि आपके घर में
जितने लोग ठहरे हुए हैं, यदि वो अमेठी के वोटर
नहीं हैं, तो उनको गिरफ्तार किया जाएगा।
मेरे यह कहने पर, कि मेरी पत्नी और मेरी बहनें
यहाँ हैं, उनका क्या? प्रशासन का कहना है
कि यदि अभी के अभी घर
खाली नहीं किया गया, तो उन्हें
भी गिरफ्तार कर लिया जाएगा।
मैं एक सवाल पूछता हूँ - मुंशीगंज गेस्ट हाउस में
सैकड़ों कांग्रेस कार्यकर्ता हैं, क्या प्रशासन
मुंशीगंज गेस्ट हॉउस खाली करवाने का साहस
कर सकता है?

Another person, on reading the updates from Amethi commented:

Though I was about to sleep and thought I won't msg about political msgs... I felt compelled to write...  Specially those who think Aap is B team of any other pol party why such nonsense is happening?

I have kept an stand of on observer but this seems too undemocratic. I know many of us have already voted... This Msg is specially for making you think - where exactly we're heading as a democracy, are we really a democracy, are these netas not goons in white clothes... Are we still going to say cons are good, are we still going to say "Ab ki bar.. "

Why beat your fellow citizens, why misuse power.... Had these netas done their job well, this situation won't have arrived.

A request - just think - ain't intentions of Aap genuine?

A part of me is glad that this happened. The more BJP targeted AAP in Benares, the more their support eroded. This happening before the election day is news that spreads fast and will hopefully add the final nail to the Congress coffin in a fiefdom of entitlement without duties.

The media reporting or not reporting anything doesn't make any difference to locals who see what is going on. The attacks, the impunity, the uneven misuse of state machinery, the man who lived among them for months and moved his children to the local school, and the prince who ruled them for so long without denting their "backward district" image.

Voiceless voters have a way of devastating those with voice at the polling booths, the one place they can hit back with impunity.

[I thank over a dozen willing volunteers who painstakingly emailed me updates and sources on the situation, since I was not able, and in the process, made this post possible. KRD Pravin, Kartik Kwatra, Richa Bharadwaj, Alka Harke, and others who sent in quick inputs on Twitter, which have since faded into its depths, but influenced this post, thank you.]

3

Ajay Maken today announced that Priyanka Gandhi will campaign in only Rae Bareli and Amethi while managing campaign for Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi nationwide. And just like that we are back to parading the Indira Gandhi lookalike in time for elections.

Time for Priyanka

<strong class='StrictlyAutoTagBold'><figcaption class=Priyanka Gandhi looks like Indira Gandhi" src="https://aamjanata.com/wp-content/uploads/pgandhi_xal8hy.jpg" width="336" height="275" /> Priyanka Gandhi at a recent Congress meet

To go from

Priyanka Gandhi's normal look.
Priyanka Gandhi's normal look.

to

<strong class='StrictlyAutoTagBold'>Priyanka Gandhi</strong> looking same like Indira Gandhi

Time to go from the pixie cut she seems to prefer to an bob-cut transition something, though either she never gets long enough to achieve Indira's very 70's style bob or there's a careful blend of what is hep today mixed in. Get the curling irons out, for heaven's sake. Make sure people notice the wavy hair and high forehead which she normally seems to prefer to cover. The right side parting remains. I wonder if she will get a streak soon, as people's memories of a 3 decade dead Prime Minister fade.

Of course, anyone can campaign, and there are family members campaigning for other politicians as well. None of these family members become news releases of their own, unlike a certain flashback wannabe. Priyanka Gandhi's resemblance to Indira Gandhi has been overused to trigger a sense of "rightful PM" feeling, and I suppose there is nothing illegal about it.

The larger problem here is a Congress Party that has become so entrenched in its dynasty obsessed ways that they fail to register a changing world. Not content with wrapping a western bahu in a sari and getting her to fit a mold we are trying to drag Indian women out of, get bitiya to act like she is living in her grandmother's era, including fashions that were probably hep on her grandmother at that time, but now are just money saved on getting a good blouse stitched.

Over and over, this pattern repeats. Over and over the party "admits" that there is a need for change and goes back to do the exact same thing.

There seems to be an institutional inability to accept powerful women, without hiding them behind the one powerful woman who had more balls than the lot, who died long ago. Who is Priyanka Gandhi? Who cares? She is Indira Gandhi for a party that firmly refuses to enter this century.

In a time when the Congress is desperate to be seen like it understands this century and the people inhabiting it, what more powerful icon for the urban vote and women's empowerment could it have been than the NORMAL Priyanka Gandhi with sassy hair and her own very confident style? Forget the people, the Congress seems unable to get its leaders out of the bahu-beti-bitiya rut.

The idea of leaders leading seems to have completely passed these jokers by, as they change people from who they are to what the people want to see. Compare this with an Indira Gandhi who had no qualms being photographed smoking or winning a war or declaring emergency. Whether her controversial actions were liked or not is another matter, but she was HERSELF, not pretending to be someone else to give people what they wanted to see. That is why liked or not, she was a LEADER. Which bitiya Priyanka, as a pale ghost haunting the Congress will never be. AND if she succeeds by some miracle, she will be succeeding in endorsing stereotypes of women as they were in the previous century - a setback for women power in a place like UP - for votes.

Brutal defeat in the Delhi Assembly elections had Rahul Gandhi going into a stream of consciousness kind of speech that spanned feelings of immediate defeat in the beginning with intent to do what AAP did toward the end, rambling gracelessly to the point he probably didn't realize that for Congress to do what AAP did, he'd have to let go of the mike first.

Unprecedented for Indian politics, the aftermath of the Delhi Gang Rape had women from the Congress Party complaining to Sonia Gandhi about sexual harassment by politicians in the party, where big headlines were made of Sonia Gandhi's firm resolve that no sexual harassers would be allowed in the Party. Limelight gone, not a thing was done to deliver on this promise.

Rahul Gandhi has spewed endless nonsense about party democracy and moving away from dynastic politics without realizing that it is still him speaking.

And now, as elections approach, you see again the complete incomprehension that people do not want to see dynastic politics. Back comes Priyanka Gandhi, who had asked to be called Priyanka Vadra, but like the changed hair parting, high forehead and sudden interest in curls, I suppose Gandhi sounds better for election time announcements.

There is nothing wrong with this. It is not illegal to be so completely senile that you simply cannot comprehend a changing nation. That you see nothing wrong in reinforcing stereotypes of women bound to dead traditions in a coutry where women are trying desperately to claw their way into an individual identity, just to get votes of people who like to keep things as they were in the past. But if you call yourself a progressive party after this, you are not just retrogressive, you're illiterate to boot.

It is just sad to see a party born before the nation, that fought for independence and led the country through most of its life fear change so much that it would rather go into oblivion worshiping its cliches than risk the change it claims to see the need for at every turn.

Just answer me this. Why isn't Rahul Gandhi dolled up to look like Feroz Gandhi or Nehru?