Thursday, February 12, 2015
By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Delhi has never made many of us proud as yesterday when the results of the local polls gave an entire country and its already frightened people a new hope in the strength of democracy whatsoever bad it might be, that at the end of the day it is people who matter and that the most fascist and dictatorial persons too should be afraid of people and keep their cool even at the time of such occasions. I am not to here to describe this victory of Arvind Kejriwal the eighth wonder of the world but definitely one ca not take away the credit of committed volunteers of AAP and their strategy which worked in Delhi. These elections have given hope to people that if their work on their strategy well people will vote for them. It has given Kejriwal and his team a message that he should work as any further nautanki on his part will create survival problem for the party in future. As far as ‘national’ perspective is concern, we must not come to any conclusion that fast about AAP as an ‘alternative’ to BJP or representing ‘secular’ forces. The results in Delhi only clarify that each state want a dominant leader and elections and democracy is not just ‘power’ to ‘people’, it has different meaning to different communities.
Why is Delhi election so important when it has merely 70 seats? Why Congress got decimated in Delhi and how long will the party’s failure continue? Will AAP replace Congress as a political force in India? These are futile questions for many armchair authors who are fascinated by tricolor wielding ‘Aam Adami’ in the Delhi streets for the past three year. Will Delhi see a new kind of government? Is Aap really an ‘innovative’ and new ‘left’ outfit which is ‘inclusive? It is time for serious introspection of the situation.
As I mentioned earlier, I am not fascinated by those who call it a ‘revolution’ and the fact is most of the ‘political’ ‘changes’ by street smart ‘rebels’ is nothing but pure dictatorial in nature and dominance of the powerful communities. Democracy may be a call for the people, of the people and by the people but it is in fact power of the powerful in India. It is oversimplification of dirty facts that with the ‘advent’ of AAP the ‘caste’ politics will be eliminated and a ‘class’ war has started. Absolutely farcical and out of touch ‘experts’ can attribute such thoughts. When and where was AAP ‘left’? What is the aam admi of AAP? Can the interest of the cash rich marwaris-Banias of whose community Arvind Kejriwal ‘proudly’ belong to, be the same, as of the migrants Dalits from Bihar and Uttar Prades ? Will the Sangh inspired ‘Aam Admi’ leave his caste prejudices and become more inclusive? Is it not a fact that Aap was not ‘fighting’ with Modi but with ‘corruption’ as Kumar Vishwas, whose family lineage goes back to RSS, continued to harp after the victory of AAP? What is the profile of AAP leaders? They do not suffer from day to day survival stints as one of their spouses work or many of them have earn enough money to survive a decent life.
We celebrate their victory because it crushed Modi and his loudspeakers. Most of India celebrated it that way only yet there are powerful message hidden behind this victory. Politics is learning process and perhaps Arvind Kejriwal became much more sober and sensible after becoming a politician. The people in the slums and resettlement colonies realized that he can ‘deliver’ them. These days elections are not just ideological driven but more as developing ‘perception’ and management. AAP’s theatrics can match the RSS propaganda machinery. The reason is clear as most of the AAP volunteers have family background of RSS and BJP and hence they know how to counter the propaganda. Secondly, in the caste war, BJP lost the Bania votes once Harsh Vardhan was clean bowled by the party. Kejriwal has been highly supported by Delhi’s traders and not just Delhi but Haryana, Punjab and even UP traders have found a new ‘icon’ in Kejriwal at the moment. So, the Banais who did not have much political clout aspired that and got it. For years, they have been the backbone of BJP, supporting it wholeheartedly but got nothing in return in terms of leadership. Kejriwal filled that vacuum and it was not without any reason that Kejriwal spoke about BJP ‘insulting’ his ‘community’. But just because trading community supported Kejriwal could not have turned him into such a big victory in Delhi. The real force behind AAP Tsunami in Delhi is the open and unambiguous support of Dalits, Muslims and the poor of Delhi. The question is why should poor of Delhi vote for him ? It is a massive mandate as the party got more than 54% of total votes while the main opposition party BJP got 32%. Congress had nearly 25% vote share last time was totally decimated and became irrelevant with merely 10% votes this time. Congress’s vote of Dalit-Muslims-Poor actually made AAP’s victory important. Will AAP leadership realize it? Will they realize how much the people particularly the Dalit Muslims have trusted them? Why have the Dalit Muslims voted in such a large number to AAP. Is it just ‘Bijali-sadak-pani’ or their support is for the larger cause.
I would like to give one small example of Sohrab, my friend and cab driver who takes me to most of the places when I go out. And from the very beginning he was talking of AAP. With the advent of aggressive Hindutva fanatics, Muslims felt scary and he would talk to me about AAP. Yesterday, he called me and said they are celebrating AAP victory in their locality. We did see BJP during Vajpayee regime but despite differences of opinion everybody knew he was a man anybody could meet and a man of great humor and wit. Today, the whole government seems to be working on a vengeance towards political opponents. Minorities are feeling scary and disturbed. The Dalits who voted to AAP actually were disturbed with regular threat to Constitution and obviously the persistent anti poor stand of the government such as ordinances land acquisition and attempt to throttle anti poverty programmes. The friendship of the current regime with some of the ‘big’ and ‘notorious’ ‘capitalists’ is wellknown to be described here.
The regular attacks on Churches on the eve of elections and attempt to communalise Delhi through ‘Trilokpuri’ ‘experiment’ boomeranged on Amit Shah and company who felt that they can redo a ‘Mujjaffarnagar’ in Delhi and reap the rich harvest later during the elections. The aggressive campaign, in which BJP spend huge sum violated all forms of decency and poll norms created a contrary impression. The Election Commission sadly remained mute and helpless on all these issues despite media attention. There was fear in the air and the Sangh Parivar and BJP felt that they would bully people further into their way. The regular threat to people was a challenge to the privacy of the individual which people responded in a fitting way. BJP would never have thought the response would have been like this but the fact is that people of Delhi have rejected their polarization bid.
It does not mean that the upper castes have left their caste identities. It does not mean that likes of Kumar Vishwas have a change of heart. Neither it mean that Banais of Sadar would pay handsome salaries to all the migrant workers coming to Delhi. Nor does it means that Chhotoos and Chhottis working in the houses of these caste Hindus will get a fair deal. Will Arvind Kejriwal and his team make some stronger ‘domestic wage’ act for ‘workers’ mainly trafficked from Chhattishgarh and Jharkhand? Yet, all of the slum dwellers and Jhuggi Jhopad wallahs, resettlement colonies have different issues related to their daily lives and they need to be addressed.
AAP has promised moon. It has promised thousands of CCTV cameras as well as women force, commandos to ‘handle’ crime against women. It is where we see the hypocrisy of the party and its leaders. Can crime against women be reduced by such nonsensical ways? AAP has no economic alternative except that they got promoted in the same corrupt corporate system, which they are opposing. The media projected them as alternative and only when the Ambanis were challenged made the things difficult for them in the media. It is the same media who glorified them converted them into villain and now after their victory making them ‘revolutionary’. It is an opportunist media and AAP is well aware of it that if it did not have an upper caste middle class character none would have ever cared for this party. So upper caste urbanized middle class is the USP of AAP hence it is really not an Aam Adami, which actually AAP represent, but Khas crorpatis. Of course, some of the Dalits and Muslims got tickets in it and have representation in the party. However, the challenge lies ahead in fulfilling the promises and addressing the greater concern of the Dalits, Muslims and other poor. The question of representation will be important in future. Secondly, every state is looking for a dominant and powerful chief minister. Thirdly, most of the Kejriwal’s original supporters are same who talked ‘ooper Modi, Neeche Kejriwal’. In longer term such stretagy will not work as neither the caste equations are same in all the regions nor we have one leaders everywhere. Hence like Mayawati, who could not create a BSP beyond UP because of dearth of leaders, Kejriwal will find it equally difficult to have the leaders elsewhere.
AAP put its spokesperson on TV debate very strategically. In major debates we saw Muslim spokes person on TV screens who were well articulate in both Hindi and English language as well as looked absolutely traditional in their outlook. So they reached their target audience very well. It is clear that Muslims who could have got confused in voting this time was unambiguous from the very beginning. If we compare it with the results last time, it is Congress Party, which got its seats from Muslim majority localities. It clearly reflects how this election was taken as a big challenge for Muslims and they voted in large number and to AAP.
Will AAP to justice to the great faith posed by Muslims and Dalits in it. The coming days will show it. AAP will have to reflect on major policy decisions. It will have to speak on representation, on the issue of reservation, common civil code, violence against Dalits, issues of farmers, OBCs and so on.
The decimation of Congress is not the end of the party as many suggest. The fact is that elections are being fought on perceptions. Kejriwal build a perception against Congress along with Anna on corruption issues converting the entire organization totally corrupt. The entire anti corruption movement was communal with anti dalit anti Muslim tendencies though political formation might have changed Kejriwal a bit but his core constituency and support base comes from powerful upper castes who have got disgruntled with BJP for not being able to address their issues. The fact is that Kejriwal’s Jan Lokpal is nothing but an invitation to chaos over political leadership. Hope Kejriwal will work and act on the issues which are not that easy to solve. Will he take a position against Khap Panchayats as he spoke against BJP for trying to intimidate women and spoke candidly that he want girls to enjoy their freedom. So, perception against Congress Party will change once Kejriwal fail to deliver and come back to his agitational politics. With Modi failing at central level and Kejriwal in Delhi will only give people option to revert back to Congress. In fact, Congress should not have fielded candidate in Delhi elections this time given the huge perceptional issues this time and this could have given them much greater respite than current situation where the party scored a zero.
Rahul Gandhi should continue to focus on young energetic people from diverse communities and try to ensure that Congress does not have dilly dallying approach on important issues. Congress’s Narsimharao approach of ‘no governance is the best governance’ on major policy issues actually was responsible for development of perception regarding the party in recent years. The party did not do anything to these perceptions. It did not fight offensively when Nehru was being maligned by the Sangh Parivar trolls on the web space and questions were being raised about Indira Gandhi. The party need to have a cohesive voice and must look honest in its approach. Even when Sonia Gandhi got Forest Rights Act, Right to Food and Land Bill, the perception did not change. The poor were not very happy. The farmers voted against it because P Chidambaram and Montek Singh Ahaluwalia were never considered as pro people. So the socialist approach of Sonia and Rahul was mocked and failed by those in power and the party actually is still paying a price for bad governance or no governance.
Next one year will be important for the country. AAP’s victory shows that the saffron chariot can be stopped and that people are fed up with it but at the same point of time AAP is not the answer as most of its class caste character except for a few actually come from the Sangh thought. Secondly, no single party can rule India and therefore parties will have to develop way to work in mutual interest with common understanding and political ideologies. If Kejriwal says he does not have any ideology then he is lying actually. Can any one say Modi government is not working from an ideological perspective ? It is and signs are clear. Therefore, the Delhi election is a signal that if parties have good management and counter Sangh Parivar on the same wicket with good, committed idealistic volunteers, the things will move. AAP had definitely the louder volunteers even when ideologically they are B copies of Sangh Parivar yet their commitment to their leaders brought the things to this level.
Finally, the election results have thrown a big challenge to ‘democracy’ itself. Are we electing ‘larger’ than life leaders who have no faith in ‘democracy’ ? There was a time when political leaders understood the importance of opposition and it was mutual understanding not to field candidates against good leaders. Today, things are changed and we want to ‘liquidate’ the opponents then and there. It is sad that political discourse has turned to such a level. Is it not a threat when we don’t have an opposition in Parliament and the assemblies? Should the opposition come from the ‘street’ now? Do the people want to see chaos in the street ? Role of opposition leaders are important in shaping our policies and hence it saddened me to say that Ajay Maken got defeated humiliatingly despite the known fact that he could have been a better chief minister than the other too. But it is the same Delhi and its ‘elite’ and ‘educated’ class which defeated Dr Man Mohan Singh and gave it to one nondescript Vijay Kumar Malhotra.
Lawmakers will have to think how can a party with 54% of votes get 95% of seats? Is it not highly disproportionate of their vote percentage? BJP with 32% of votes could manage with 5% while Congress with 9% vote did not get anything. India will pay a heavy price with this when elections are becoming joke and high ‘personalised’ and personality based and those who have capacity to pay will be able to manage otherwise ordinary activists and workers have no place in such a ‘democracy’. We must shift to Proportionate Electorate System so that diverse groups have representation in our Parliament and Assemblies and we will be saved from such a situation when a ‘democratic’ mandate does not become threat to ‘democracy’ itself. Kejriwal’s victory is no different than Modi which decimated the opposition and it is here that I am signing out this note with a red alert that India will ultimately go to dictators who have no respect for democracy if people continue to give mandate in such a way as if they don’t want to see any opposition. And how will ‘Aam Admi’ tackle those who will take to street for its ‘failure’ to address the situation ? Will it send their ‘jathas’ to ‘deal’ with their ‘political’ ‘opponents’ ? Delhi will have to patiently wait for the coming days which may bring torturous ‘Aam Admi’ dictatorship in the street. At the moment, we can only wish good to Arvind Kejriwal and his team for five year and hope they will be able to fulfill their promises.