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 strategistUnless 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 itThis 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 leadershipAAP 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 policiesAAP 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 valuesStrip 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 moreAAP’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 ASAPAccept 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 supportIt 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!
Founder at Aam Janata
Vidyut has a keen interest in mass psychology and using it as a lens to understand contemporary politics, social inequality and other dynamics of power within the country. She is also into Linux and internet applications and servers and has sees technology as an important area India lacks security in.
Latest posts by Vidyut (see all)
- Open letter to the Chief Justice of India - April 13, 2019
- Nationwide Protest by NREGA workers #NREGASangharshMorcha - March 2, 2019
- Repression of Activists cannot stop the second Kisan Long March - February 16, 2019