What is the Aam Admi Party (AAP)? What does it stand for? What role is it going to play in the polity? Questions aplenty. No firm answers available. Many even apprehend whether it could end up strengthening the hands of the communal forces. I believe it actually could signal a welcome change for the people at large.
Its progenitor, the IAC, had indeed a big chunk right-wingers. I could observe it in the social media. The Ramlila maidan show seemed to bring it out all in the open. Putting forward Anna Hazare as the face of the movement confirmed my apprehensions. He is a staunch manuvadi. Worse, Ramdev too jumped into the bandwagon.
After that BJP leaders coming on platform and talking to the assembly looked just normal. I was only reminded of JP movement. There were some uncanny premonitory parallels: JP was invited out of his hibernation by a heterogeneous political patch-up ,as diverse as Jan Sangh, Bhartiya Lokdal, Congress (O), Akali Dal etc. So also Anna was invited into the initiative. But the sole and crucial difference was JP was egalitarian and Anna is staunch Manuvadi.
Again JP started with his grandstanding ‘total revolution’ rhetoric,but ended up in extra constitutional opposition to Indira Gandhi in person and Congress Party in particular. Anna started with his highfalutin anti-graft hyperbole, but breathed fire against only Congress, even while vehemently claiming to be ‘apolitical’.
In the case of the JP movement right-wingers were a legitimate partner. What I cannot make out till today is how a man of JP’s integrity could take Jan Sanghis at their words and join hands with them. One thing was sure though. But for cadres and other resources of RSS, JP’s movement would have been nowhere. But would not that ‘nowhere’ have been better than the wherewithal it anchored upon in the long run? After all it only ended up in the birth of the BJP down the road.
In Anna’s anti-graft flick too, the sanghis were seen everywhere: from social media to Ramlila maidan. Only unlike in the JP days, they never declared themselves as such . But their earnestness was a thing to behold. They had tasted success in riding piggyback on common man’s sentiment before. They had later spiced it up with saffron flavor and marketed it well. So they stuck on in silence now, biding their time and putting up with aversion the many liberal, progressive elements within the ranks of the IAC.
The twist came when IAC turned AAP, and Anna parted ways. This turn of events was perhaps not as per the script of the Sangh Parivar. For without AAP and the discontent of the common man fuelled to new heights by the IAC, it would have been BJP all the way, not any cobbled-up disparate political outfits like in 1977. In which case the anti-corruption movement might not have carried much conviction, and many zealous youth might have kept away. The parivaar always needs some smokescreen, you see.
Anyway the sudden birth of the AAP meant the Sanghis could not hijack the IAC, as they had the JP movement. Besides they had another political opponent to contend with. Their frustration was revealed in the awkward maneuvers of Kiran Bedi!
Still the BJP pedaled soft on the AAP. It served them rather well as the new kid on the block virtually annihilated the Congress . Though BJP too lost significant votes to AAP, they were happy as it had happened on the eve of the 2014 general elections. It would be difficult for the Congress to recover from the AAP blows, they should have thought. But what they were not prepared for was AAP’s plunge into the Lok Sabha polls at a national level, taking on the BJP wherever it could – – never mind the corporate media house that sought to run him down on one issue or another. For them while IAC was a darling, the AAP seemed an eyesore
For all his blunders during his rule as the CM of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal had made the entire nation sit up and take note. With its stocks up and positioning itself as a possible alternative to both the Congress and the BJP and with the aura of integrity and simplicity giving it a refreshing look, the AAP could end up thwarting the vaulting ambitions of the Hindu communal brigade. Hence the latter’s rage unlimited, unleashed in perhaps the crudest of terms, on the social media network.
Of course, there are still numerous sanghis in the ranks of the AAP who publicly declare they prefer Modi as the PM. But the churning in the IAC has certainly brought about a definitive and qualitative change in the AAP, a change that is clearly against the grain of right wing ideology. Supporters and votaries of the AAP, by and large, in and out of the social media, are largely secular elements of the Indian population. And a sizeable number of foot-soldiers with impeccable integrity have joined AAP. Most of them have spent their life in social activity and borne the brunt of repressive state policies. I am talking of Soni Soris, Medha Patkars, Meera Sanyals Ashok Khemkas, UdayKumars, Satya Mahars, Dayamani Barlas and the like. A whole host of them. They positively represent what Kejriwal defines as his endeavor to ‘change the politics.’ That is a huge plus.
There is a widespread perception that the AAP is dividing anti-BJP votes. Possibly so. But it has accomplished a very commendable feat: it has given a much looked-for alternative to the fence sitters who might have otherwise, in all likelihood, gone to right wing fold at least for 2014. Finally centre going triangular instead of bipolar is an incentive to the people of India.
Another and not the least is the incentive is that AAP has singlehandedly made corruption a real public issue, not merely a lip-service and platitude as is the case with all other outfits in the fray.
Never mind the IAC origins, the AAP has been compelled to rally against communalism lest it would be accused of promoting the BJP’s designs. Thus Kejriwal’s daring Modi directly is more than symbolic.