Opinion

Sullied by politics?

Ranabir Ray Choudhury | Updated on March 13, 2018

Tough choices ahead

Kejriwal’ challenge is to protect his clean image in the political maze.

Arvind Kejriwal runs the risk of losing the identity of his anti-corruption movement – manifested in the shape of the Aam Aadmi Party — in the political maze of New Delhi. This is not because of any specific inability on his part to continue pursuing the anti-corruption cause, nurtured under the umbrella of Anna Hazare in earlier times, but because it is the nature of political parties (specially in the Indian environment) to play the game of politics according to well laid-out ground rules. And there is nothing on the horizon to suggest that Kejriwal will challenge those rules.

The first point to emphasise is that the AAP’s success in the Delhi Assembly election was solely due to its anti-corruption plank. A large part of the pro-Congress, anti-BJP vote went to Kejriwal’s outfit because the electorate saw in it something new, a hope for the future. Undoubtedly, this hope was firmly rooted in the AAP’s unambiguous focus on challenging and fighting corruption, a campaign plank which was clearly directed against the existing socio-political system which had, in fact, spawned the scourge. Both the Congress and the BJP, being the two biggest political parties in the country, were tainted by the malaise, which is why the majority of those who did not vote for the Congress did not do so for the BJP either.

Dented image

The first dent in the pre-election image of the AAP has resulted from the ambiguous stand of the party on Government formation in Delhi. Instead of disdainfully refusing to seek an understanding with any of the other political parties, Kejriwal has sought time to formulate his party’s line, which is a blatantly political act.

Kejriwal must be commended for taking the initiative to form a political party (against the advice of Anna Hazare) and for leading it to a spectacular victory in the Delhi polls. But this can only be the beginning of the story. If he starts behaving like a politician now, it is inevitable that he will be swamped by the “system”.

It is clear that if there is another election in Delhi, the AAP stands a good chance of getting an absolute majority. This is based on the premise that the “wave” in favour of the party will only get stronger during the next polls; those who voted for the BJP because they were not sure of the AAP’s credentials will not hesitate to back the new horse this time around.

Out of line

What is disconcerting is that instead of plugging a clear and simple anti-corruption line which will be understood by all and sundry, Kejriwal has sent a list of issues to the BJP and the Congress asking them to reveal their positions on it. The list includes subjects such as statehood for Delhi, unauthorised colonies and contract labour — all undoubtedly important but divorced from the central issue of corruption in public life.

Another imponderable standing in the way of the AAP being a potent weapon in the fight against corruption is the lack of effective countrywide organisational cover, which is indispensable for any political outfit. No political party can aspire to be useful if it does not have a centralised chain of command, the main purpose of which would be to smoothly transmit policy decisions taken at the highest party levels down to the district and sub-division modules. As of now, the AAP is severely short of an apparatus and it remains to be seen whether intra-party corruption will be kept at bay while setting it up.

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Published on December 17, 2013
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