AK45* and AAP- a new brand of politics in India
written by Samresh Kumar
There are certain times in any nation’s history which define and change its direction and today is definitely one of those for India. What we are seeing today in Indian politics is unprecedented. Here is a party, AAP, which was formed barely a year ago, and now it is not only running the show in Delhi, because the people of Delhi overwhelmingly voted for them, but also changing the way politics and governance is done in India.
Today, 21st of January, 2014, the Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr Arvind Kejriwal, along with all his cabinet ministers and supporters of AAP, has been on their 2nd day of non-violence protest in Delhi. The capital of India is on a standstill. All the Ministers in the Delhi Government are there on the streets, braving the Delhi cold and asking for justice for the people and to make the Delhi police accountable. There are a lot of people who are criticizing the “method” of AK and AAP, calling them anarchist, chief agitator, drama-baaz, resorting to cheap politics, plan B of Congress etc etc and are saying that he should rather “work within the system” and do things in a “constitutional manner” and not act like MNS/ Naxalites etc. Let us delve deeper. I have discussed under the following 3 headings- Intention, Method and Effect.
AK is not a career politician like a majority of the current politicians in India. He is an ex-Income tax commissioner who retired prematurely and helped legislate the very important RTI bill (“Right to Information”) in India. He has been an honest and an upright professional throughout (Congress and BJP, in the last 1 year, have not managed to unearth any significant dirt on him). For the last 10 years or so, he has fought from outside the system, for RTI, Jan Lokpal bill etc. Now, he is fighting from within. His intention is to have a Government, which is “Of the People, By the People and For the People”, at least one or two of the above, if not all three, has been compromised in majority of the states in India and definitely at the center. He wants a Government which makes life better for its citizens and not just to create massive wealth for himself or to get his family members in plum posts etc, which the current political class, in general, barring a few, across different parties have been resorting to. His Government has been in power for the last 3 weeks only and has taken massive positive strides across various departments, like water distribution, power supply, education, ‘Lal batti’/ VIP culture, corruption across different public departments etc etc. He and his team have been working day and night since coming to power. For whom? For the people who elected them, and not for themselves. Obviously he is not the first one, but really, how many politicians in the history of India can we count who have worked so tirelessly for the people, without benefitting himself (in Congress, in BJP, in SP, in JD, in SS, in MNS, CPI (M) and all other regional parties?
AK was criticized by different politicians from the BJP and Congress and other regional parties when he was fighting from outside for Jan Lokpal bill and was told categorically that he should come and fight from within the system . He did, formed a party and contested the elections. Then, these same people said it’s easy to contest but very difficult to win even 2 seats in the Delhi assembly. Well, they won 28 seats out of 70. They were second in 12 seats, and 10 out of which, they lost by a mere margin of less than 1000 votes! Then again these same people said that their election manifesto was plain gimmick and no way can they fulfill it. Well, they have fulfilled most of their promises in their election manifesto within 3 weeks of coming to power. How many parties can claim that? They have been working within the system in areas where they have control- water, power, education, corruption in public offices, VIP culture, health and sanitation etc etc but the issue of law and order of Delhi is different. I Having personally stayed in Delhi NCR for more than a decade and having been to the Delhi police station a couple of times (for stolen car etc), i have firsthand experience of how the Police treats citizens when they go to report a crime. We all know how little (or absolutely ZERO) trust people have on Delhi police….Delhi police needs to get their act right. They are for the security of the people and not just for the VVIPs, rich class and not to be in cohorts with criminals. So, the question is, how does one shake the Delhi police system and start making it work again? There are two options which come to mind:
Write a letter to and meet the Home Ministry and the Prime Minister (does it look like Manmohan Singh is working anymore?) to request the transfer of the control and accountability of Delhi police from the Central Govt to the State Govt and assume that the Central Govt will fight in the parliament and get this bill passed through a majority. We all know that nothing, yes nothing will happens through this route. The majority of the current Central Govt ministers and politicians want to continue to treat police as their personal privilege and protection force, so why will they fight hard in the parliament to give away this ‘perk’?
Request the Home ministry to somehow improve the situation of Delhi police and start making them work. The earlier Chief Minister of Delhi, Shiela Dixita, was a senior politician from the Congress party (who’s Govt was at the Center) claims to have tried this for many years- what results did she achieve? Nothing- the law and order situation went from bad to worse.
Do the people of Delhi/ India really think and believe that by requesting through letters/ closed door meetings etc, Delhi police could be improved? The situation is at its lowest point at the moment and hence has resulted in the people of Delhi coming onto the streets to ask for an immediate look-into the problem and solve it. What are the other alternatives please?
Having a dharna or a non-violent protest is NOT unconstitutional. This is NOT taking law in its own hands. This is NOT similar to naxalites or the ‘gunda-gardi’/ vandalism of parties like MNS.
There are the many on-the-ground changes we are seeing ahead of the national assembly elections in May 2014 and post the Delhi assembly elections results in Dec 2013. The political parties, like the BJP, are talking of fielding more “clean” candidates at the national assembly elections. High caliber people, from outside the immediate family of the leaders of a party, are coming into politics, not only in AAP but other parties as well and they are given voices and responsibility. Politicians are being made more accountable to their electorate. Some of the media and a lot of the people are debating on real issues and not saying that since he/she is less corrupt and less of a criminal than his opposition, we should vote for him/her. People, especially the youth and the white collar people, came out in droves and voted in this assembly election and they will vote again in the national elections. There will be a historic voter turnout in the national elections this year. The bar has been raised, for good. AAP has already created a massive positive effect on Indian politics through the vast support of the people of Delhi.
In a time like this, I think none of us Indians, anywhere in the world, can be happy sitting in our cozy houses, eating samosas and sipping tea and just thinking about our personal issues (and in a grander scheme of things, petty) – he/she said this, my next promotion, my next material purchase etc etc or just discuss Cricket, Bollywood and Real-estate- we need to take a couple of steps back, take a deep breath, think what the current situation of the whole country is and then do whatever little or big one can do and contribute in this historic time. People can have differences in opinions and it is a part of a healthy democracy and it should be respected but crime, corruption, callousness, abdication of job responsibility, “chalta hai” attitude etc cannot be tolerated and it needs to be ended, much sooner than later. It is high time.
Please watch Kejriwal’s interview with Rajdeep Sardesai on 18 Jan 2014; a lot of the answers is provided by AK himself.
* AK45 refers to Mr Arvind Kejriwal who is 45 years of age;
The views expressed above are of the author.