INDIA-VOTE-AAP-KEJRIWAL
Leader of India's Aam Admi Party (AAP) Arvind Kejriwal (C) poses with party officials as he releases his party election manifesto at a press conference in New Delhi on April 3, 2014. The party manifesto is focused on Education and Health, Economy and Ecology,National Security, Social Justice, Sports, Culture and Media. India, the world's biggest democracy, announced the start of national elections on April 7 that are expected to bring Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi to power on a platform of economic revival. AFP PHOTO/Chandan KHANNA
Arjun Singh Kadian
AAP Fails Feasibility Test

The bigger the false promises, the more attractive they seem, and so does the mirage their feasibility

In 10 days’ time we will have an answer to the relentless propaganda of Arvind Kejriwal and Amit Shah’s ability to win elections — as if that isn’t certain yet. But those, who can understand the electoral promises and the socio-economic strings attached to Indian politics, should be able to read these elections beyond the front page. While these words are being written, the extensive media campaign and Twitterati flashes before my eyes, and in a jiffy it strikes — if the AAP has beaten the BJP somewhere, it’s definitely Twitter. Make a favourable comment, and you will find a thousand retweets in minutes. Put across your doubts about AAP’s credibility, and that’s enough to get the supporters in a tizzy (defensive mode). They have only one argument to throw back — Kejriwal is incorruptible. But is that enough, even if that statement happens to be correct?

Do these elections matter to BJP?

The lotus and its bearers, BJP president Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have successfully given a string of victories to the party. So why is Delhi now all so important? Is it a contest of TRP among the media houses that yet again have failed to find something more interesting to feed their audience? Or is there something still left that BJP or Shah want to prove? There is also a possibility that the media is busy covering the election while Modi is chalking out his next steps to counter China or increase the manufacturing base; to improve the economy or create more jobs. Or, maybe, he is figuring out how to make Russia and the US come on the same page and bring an overall support for the development of Indian masses. May be, may be not.

AAP on Screen

For now, what is up and running on our television screens is the ‘common man’ and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). But wait, has the AAP gained patent rights on the ordinary citizen? When the auto-rickshaws with speakers lumber by the Nulife Hospital roaring “aam aadmi”, it uses the word as if no one bothered about the lot ever before. Well, if you choose to see through, the common man has always been central to Indian Politics, be it Nehru and his socialism, or Indira Gandhi and TPP. It is, and has always been, the aam aadmi who makes and breaks governments. Though strange enough that the AAP has campaigned like it is the Krishna to the rescue of aam aadmi as if he were Draupadi.

arvind-kejriwal-aaps

In the last few months, after a not so surprising but humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, the AAP concentrated on Delhi. But why Delhi? The most gratifying answer given is: the party is popular here. And how? One cannot forget the Ram Lila Maidan and IaC (India against Corruption) dramatics that helped it gain that popularity; adding to which is the 49 days rule (or misrule) of the AAP.

The indelible ink on my finger, post-voting, had not faded away but the government, came, (mis)ruled and quit as well. Wow! Delhi citizens’ hopes and money were pushed down the drain by the AAP, just like their empty promises. They sat, pooped and flew away at their convenience. A report in The Times of India says the Delhi elections cost Rs 40 crore to the exchequer. That is a big sum, Mr Aam Aadmi (read Kejriwal).

Let’s take a look at the campaign of AAP:

  1. Hypocrisy: The AAP and its volunteers have effectively stood forward as saints and spoken of the BJP as hypocrites, but the AAP itself has resorted to hypocrisy. The AAP has often called the BJP a one-man party. But the AAP’s whole campaign and argument has been centred around Arvind Kejriwal.
  2. Misleading Campaign: The campaign promises include free water and electricity, but do not mention anything on the slabs to put it in place. So to get our facts and economics straight — these aren’t free commodities and not even abundantly available. But the campaign is centred on these two issues — like Gandhi chose the issue of salt for revolt! But the ulterior motives of the story of the past and that of the present are so disconcertingly opposite that Gandhi would cringe if he were to witness the state of affairs.
  3. Sting and EC notice: What Kejriwal looks like when he disregards the Election Commission? For a moment he looks like an anarchist, willed to disregard all constitutional institutions because he believes he is doing just fine by being an aam aadmi ( with copyright). In hindsight, he comes out as a college boy running for the post of general secretary, telling himself, ‘Forget it, they just have to crib at everything.’
  4. EVM: When Kejriwal tweets about the electronic voting machines, he manages to put fear of a totally false system called India in our heads. Well Mr Kejriwal, we understand that these elections are important for you, but please don’t talk like we are fools or you are our Noah.
  1. Volunteers: This is where the AAP runs very smart — a large volunteer regimen. Most of them lack the vision of a composite bigger picture and that of the role of economics and administration required to run a government; for them Delhi is India and may be the world itself. Those who are more educated are like the characters in Animal Farm (by George Orwell): “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than the others” (figurative speech)

AAP press conference

The Manifesto

One can go on and on discussing this, but let us now turn our attention to the AAP manifesto. A few key points:

  1. “Acting within constitutional framework AAP will use its moral and political authority to push for full statehood for Delhi”: One thing not to be missed here, the AAP wrote “acting within constitutional framework”, which is good; at least there won’t be roadblock and dharna on it. But who knows, he is Kejriwal, full of dharna surprises, isn’t he?
  2. “Aam Aadmi Party government will keep its promise of reducing electricity bills by half”: If economy was run by subsidies and not by the law of demand and supply, I would surely have graced Kejriwal with the words, “What an idea, sirji!”
  3. “AAP will conduct a comprehensive performance audit of discoms by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India”: Tell us something new about it? The Supreme Court judgement had called for the same!
  4. “AAP will put Delhi’s own power station at the pithead and comprehensively solve Delhi’s electricity problem in long run”: Is Delhi established on Himalayas that it can benefit from hydropower generation? Nor does Delhi have enough coal reserve, or may be AAP saw some. Or is it that AAP seeks to benefit itself from the Prime Minister Modi’s renewable energy mission? If the latter is the case, I think the BJP needs to have it in their manifesto or so to say, vision statement.
  5. “AAP reiterates the 2013 Delhi manifesto promise of providing consumers the right to choose between electricity providers”: If bringing about the whole mechanism was such a simple task, the AAP never would have left quit in 49 days and brought about the fiasco.
  6. “AAP will facilitate a phased shift to renewable and alternate sources of energy like Solar Energy”: The Prime Minister and the former governments have already been pushing it.
  7. “AAP will provide Water as a Right. It will provide access to clean drinking water to all of Delhi at an affordable price”: Right? A fundamental right or a legal right? In either case, Delhi has lost much of its groundwater resource and gets water from neighbouring states and, if the neighbouring states deny or create a logjam, the AAP will blame whom? God? Or the BJP? And resign from government again?
  8. “AAP will ensure firm implementation of the HC order that entitles Delhi to extra raw water from Haryana in Munak canal”: This is an indirect but clear message to the BJP government in Haryana. The AAP wins either way!
  9. “AAP is committed to clamping down on Delhi’s powerful water mafia working under the patronage of political leaders”: And there the AAP points again that they are the good ones and other political parties are nothing but blood suckers.

Even, if the AAP benefits from this misleading campaign and forms a government in Delhi, one sees a lot of confusion, absence of a system and, coming up of a new political class, those who never have their say through the BJP or Congress. Adding to it will be regular trouble for the BJP at the Centre and the AAP in Delhi. Delhi won’t see a bright sunny day unspoiled by the campaign speakers.