Sanity in politics is a virtue – lesser known to political leaders who run personality driven political parties. The nation watched with aplomb the Samajwadi drama prior to UP elections, Tamil Nadu is still reeling under the weight of the same – post Jayalalithaa phase, JDU in Bihar is pleadingly paying for Nitish Kumar’s narcissistic politics and Aam Aadmi Party faces annihilation sans Kejriwal’s hedonist disposition. So the billion dollar question is – has the anti-corruption based political movement post 2011 died under its own weight or is it breathing its last?
It will be premature to assume that Arvind Kejriwal led AAP is on its brink, because politics is the art of impossible and revival is the key to success in politics. Arvind Kejriwal knows this well and in no time will he device ways and means of getting around the negative public sentiment coming out of the shadows of recent defeat in Goa, Punjab and Delhi MCD. As a political outfit, AAP has all proponents of revival, as it stands to rule Delhi for another 3 years.
Policies could be nuanced, recrafted and tailored to generate public opinion and broad shouldered to retain vote bank. I would rather venture a calculated assessment that AAP has more than a fair chance of retaining its hold on Delhi.
But - and this “But” is the butt of all problems. What is the challenge that mass movement of 2011, nick named “Anna Andolan”, today faces. It is safe to preclude that “Anna Andolan” is long dead and has been buried with defeats of AAP in Goa, Punjab and Delhi MCD. Anti-corruption is no longer the plank on which AAP survives, rather AAP rubbished it in its first year of governance in Delhi.
Corruption is rampant in Delhi administration, Lok Pal as an institution is non-existent and people to people correlation died with the arrogance of AAP leaders and MLAs. Thousands who gathered at Ram Leela Maidan in August 2011 to proclaim “Swaraj” have long accepted the fate-acompli - Aam Aadmi Party is as good or as bad as any other political outfit. There is deceit; there are false promises, nepotism, bribery, political opportunism and moral bankruptcy. To top it all, there is a supreme leader surrounded by self-proclaimed “political animals”, who never could really connect with people at large.
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So, what next? Going by recent confession of Delhi CM and party supremo, Arvind Kejriwal, there might still be hope for the political outfit (not the Andolan) AAP. Finally the king has accepted that he is robeless, “In the last two days, I spoke to many volunteers and voters...It's time to get back to work. And even if we slip from time to time, the key is to find the reserves to hold and pull ourselves up. The people deserve nothing less. The only constant is change," Contrast this with the outburst on 26th April post MCD counting – “there may be short comings, but the real reason for our defeat is EVM manipulations done at the behest of BJP…. People may laugh at us but when truth is placed before masses, its usually laughed at. There is no way we could have lost was this a fair election”, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia said.
This sea change in language and action of AAP gives it a good chance of recovering the losses it has faced in the past one and a half year. But, going forward, the party has an uphill task of wining back trust & confidence of the “very” people who had reposed absolute confidence in it, just 2 years ago. It’s not impossible but doable – provided Arvind Kejriwal drops his sycophancy, gets rid of the “political animals” who surround him, provides an effective government which is seen as working diligently and leaves behind his policy of denigrating established institution & practices. This could prove to be a tough task as he will have to compete with his neighbor, CM Yogi Adiyanath.
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Not even 100 days have gone by and administratively, the Yogi government is making all the right noises. The credibility of Yogi Government is better than the overall euphoria of Modi regime in 2014. BJP leaders have floated axioms, “Na khaunga Na Khane dunga”, “Na Sounga Na Sone dunga”.
On the face of it these may be hyperboles, but they have a mass reach and connect. Arvind Kejriwal will have to better these axioms, he will have to prove that he is better that what people of this country have ever seen. He has sought pardon innumerable times since he formed AAP from the electorate, he faces today the final challenge, perform or perish.