Sunday, March 29, 2015

Nobody Cares

Social media has this new hashtag - #AAPWar - which can safely be described as the most pointless hashtag ever, even more pointless than #TheDress. It all comes down to what I had predicted back in Feb. 2015, when Arvind Kejriwal's party won a sweeping majority in Delhi and he became Chief Minister for a second, hopefully longer, time - to use the phrase of a comment on Facebook, a circus has been elected with regular entertainment to all viewers through non-stop press conferences. And that's exactly what's happened.

Actually, this was coming and the signs were all there. There is no doubt that Yogendra Yadav aka Salim holds strong political aspirations in Haryana, although his political acumen stops outside TV studios. When Arvind Kejriwal refused to expand beyond Delhi into Haryana, it was a direct rejection of Yadav. No doubt, Kejriwal learned a lesson from his hard defeat in the Modi wave of 2014. Prashant Bhushan too has had plans to implement his grand vision through executive power and not just an endless stream of PILs. For all three, AAP has just been a tool to further their own ambitions. And the people of Delhi, largely oblivious to real issues, were prime for the kill.

Today, the hollowness has been laid out to bear. AAP's highly-vaulted Constitution, which is supposed to put its high ideals on a concrete footing beyond the environs of rhetoric, is more observed in the breach. The AAP Constitution clearly spells out 'one man, one post,' similar to the BJP's Constitution. When Rajnath Singh became Home Minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet, he left his position as BJP President. With Kejriwal however, the post of Delhi CM and National Convener lie with the same person, with a pliant Manish Sisodia acting as Dy CM of such a small city-state to give Kejriwal the best of both worlds: enjoy the perks of being a CM while not actually doing anything, and continue to control the party with an iron fist.

Of course, none of this is surprising. In the way it is constituted, AAP is just like the Congress and the one-man/one-family parties all across India (except the BJP and CPM, which are cadre-based parties). The volunteers are there because of Kejriwal, he controls the funds, he is the sole face of the party: he is the party, in short. The very fact that Kejriwal has not loosened control tells us that this party will go the way of the Congress: a single, large party and several breakaways that will come together every now and again for power. It is the same politics of power that Modi talked about in the 2014 campaign - far from being a party with a difference, this party is more like a typical Indian party than most others.

And the sad thing is that none of this matters. Yadav and Bhushan did not get their due from Kejriwal, so they tried to sabotage him. Kejriwal decided to use his heft to through them out to further consolidate his power. Meanwhile, Delhi's streets are littered with garbage as cleaners have not been paid even as the CM and the Mayors of Delhi fight it out over funds. Kejriwal, who has never cared much for rules and procedures, has shown the door to his own state's corporations and callously asked them to go to the Central Government - that is, to other states - for funds. Far from responsible leadership, this is the sort of recklessness that Mamata Banerjee is better known for. Kejriwal is at war with the Haryana Government over water supply while Delhi continues to dump untreated sewage into the Yamuna. Delhi is looking at load shedding for the first time in years, while the only thing the AAP Government has done is to invite RFPs for free wifi.

AAP is not going to fizzle out slowly, it is going to implode with a loud bang. And only silly Delhiites will suffer for it. After all, #5SaalKejriwal. 

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