VIP ANTI-VIPS

“Officials should show courtesy and consideration to MPs and MLAs. officials should rise to receive the public representatives and see them off too. Arrangements should be made in advance to receive them in office if a visit is already scheduled.”

“While responding to MPs and MLAs, the official would see that the communication is legit. Pre-printed or cyclo-styled replies should be avoided.”

Indian Express, September 1, 2015 (from the Delhi government circular with guidelines ‘on practices to be followed while dealing with MPs and MLAs’).

The circular has been issued by the government headed by a party that, ironically, was formed to struggle against anything that was ‘VIP’ in nature. To complete the ‘symbolism’ behind the intent, the party was named the ‘Aam Aadmi Party (the common men party). Sky high promises, raising sky high hopes, were made when some of the activists from the hugely successful (but ultimately botched up) anti-corruption movement had announced their political foray in the later half of 2012.

Arvind Kejriwal and his party practiced this, at least in public, before coming to the power once again in Delhi.

“In developed countries, even PMs wait at bus stands. Why can’t the same happen here. We want to end the VIP culture in this country.”

Arvind Kejriwal, BBC, February 14, 2015 – after taking oath as Delhi’s chief minister again.

From eschewing guards, placing his safety in the hands of “God”, to dressing in polyester shirts, Kejriwal has rejected these symbols of privilege enjoyed by a tiny minority of judges, civil servants and politicians in this city of 16 million people.

“When God decides otherwise, nobody can save you, whatever the number of bodyguards,” he told local media.

“I’ve been driving for the past few days. I stop at all red lights. I don’t think my time is wasted,” Kejriwal told lawmakers.

India Today – January 8, 2014 – during Arvind Kejriwal’s first term as the chief minister of Delhi.

Now, down the line three years, the promises sound sham and the lid is blown off with acts like this ‘circular’.

Arvind Kejriwal and his party have been openly VIP this time, after storing to the power corridors of Delhi with absolute majority winning 67 of 70 assembly seats.

Now no one, including Arvind Kejriwal, talks about ‘worthlessness of huge government bungalows for legislators’ or ‘big sized cars as their vehicles’ or ‘designated ministerial convoys’ or ‘unnecessary appointments of party members on public money’ or ‘massive advertising blitzkrieg on exchequer’s money’ and so on.

There have been many instances during this run of the AAP government in Delhi that prove what the AAP talked in the name of ‘anti-VIP measures’ was merely an election rhetoric – and once the purpose was solved with winning the Delhi assembly polls this year – after failures in running Delhi first time and in Lok Sabha elections last year – the party decided to shed the tag completely.

After all, the AAP is just yet another political party now – and as any ‘yet another political party’ is deeply rooted in practicing and promoting the ‘VIP culture’ – so is the AAP – like any other political party – like other political parties – that use the ‘symbolism’ of ‘anti-VIP culture’ to promote ‘VIP culture’ for their leaders – VIPs using anti-VIP persona to remain VIPs.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

PEOPLE ARE WATCHING CLOSELY MR. KERJRIWAL!

Well, there are many issues, many routine events and many developments – within a span of just six months – to write against the Aam Aadmi Pary and Arvind Kejriwal – that it, more than anything else, tells how fast has been the erosion of any value system – if the AAP had one.

It has been a rapid downward journey for the AAP since the historic high of February 2015 when it won a historical mandate cornering 67 of 70 seats in the Delhi assembly polls, improving miraculously on another miracle that it had thrown by emerging as the second largest party in 2013 assembly polls – just a year after its political foray.

Due to the turn of events, the AAP ended forming the government in Delhi. Then, the electorate had seen Congress’s support as the basic minimum to form the government and the AAP had tried to show that in spite of Congress’s support, the party was independently following its policies. The party had some tough questions to follow when it resigned in the name of ‘Jan Lokpal Bill’ because many saw it as an effort to try luck for greener pastures, i.e., prime-ministerial chair and the Lok Sabha elections.

Anyway, the party survived that. It miraculous electoral feat in February 2015 showed that. It also pushed the AAP to claim the legacy of the ’49 days’ that it was in the Delhi government during its first tenure.

But the aspirations, the hopes started taking a hit here – aspirations and hopes that gave the party such a rare, resounding mandate.

Arvind Kejriwal first got Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan kicked out of the party they had co-founded. Then he executed moves that told us that the AAP was fast becoming a party synonymous with Arvind Kejriwal and it had no political future without him.

And the process looks complete now.

No one in the AAP talks about the ‘Jan Lokpal Bill’ now.

Instead, Arvind Kejriwal and his ministers prefer to follow a politics of confrontation with the Narendra Modi led Union Government that has a direct political interest in Delhi and will try to exercise its power in whatever way possible through its representative, the Lieutenant-Governor.

Delhi is the national capital of India and therefore the Union Government needs to have deep stakes here. That makes Delhi a half-state for its elected government and like every government in Delhi, Kejriwal had to find a way out of it.

Instead, he chose to take on the Union Government asking for full statehood.

On August 14, his government will complete six months in office but he has nothing but empty rhetoric, spate of controversies and wasteful expenditure of public money in promoting a ‘Kejriwal cult’.

And what’s more, a fatigue is creeping in, to write even a critical piece on the AAP. The party that made ‘common man’ a leitmotif of its political rise needs to think how would it answer people who are increasing viewing it as just yet another political party with nothing new to offer. The AAP had promised change but the voter is finding the hard truth that the party has changed, and for worse. The AAP may or may not realize it but ‘uncommonness’ has become the new leitmotif of the party.

Voters are scrutinizing these developments. People are watching closely Mr. Kerjriwal!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

ANOTHER SHAMBOLIC ACT BY AAP

It is not about that petrol and diesel are still cheaper in Delhi than neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

It is about betraying people once again and that too when the Aam Aadmi Party government is just five months old in the office – the five months that it completed only yesterday.

And the move by the AAP government has come just two weeks after denying to plan anything on this line.

After the uproar two weeks ago about the proposal to increase VAT, Raghav Chadda, the party’s spokesperson, had rushed to clarify: “We have reduced the penalty. We didn’t say that we are increasing the VAT. We have just tabled the amendment for the flexibility of VAT department.”

Let’s see what he had to say today. Today, he tried to shield behind verbal jugglery inundating his response with technical (financial) terms saying – “FMs of all North Indian States decided that fuel prices should be at uniform rates to avoid geographical tax arbitrage and trade malpractices.”

Well, public doesn’t understand such jargons and people who have voted for the AAP (or for that matter any other political party or government) react negatively to such developments.

And it will reflect in elections. The AAP, due to its ignorance, may not gauge it in Punjab polls, but the outcome will certainly be humiliating in Delhi if this streak continues. Five years on electoral scale are not too long.

And such a ‘hostile to public sentiments’ move came on a day when the BJP led Union Government reduced prices of petrol and diesel by Rs. 2 throughout the country. That made the AAP’s shabby response sound even more hypocritical.

Totally indefensible and Manish Sisodia’s response only added to it – (tax rates on Petrol-Diesel are being rationalised in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, HP, Chandigarh & UP under unified tax policy. 1st time in North India.)

It may be first time in India – this rationalization as said by Manish Sisodia, Arvind Kejriwal’s right hand and Delhi’s deputy chief-minister, may be debatable – but the AAP’s fall from grace after February 14, 2015, when it took oath for the second time, has been, unfortunately, an uninterrupted show.

And the continuing advertising blitzkrieg, on public’s money, is only adding to it. The message such acts by the AAP government send that the government has not been able to raise money and is insensitively indulging in acts to finance its populist measures and its wasteful expenditures.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AAM AADMI IDEAL OF AAM AADMI PARTY IS DYING..

An Aam Aadmi Patry MLA (member of the legislative assembly, Delhi in this case) was detained today on charges of cheating and forgery. The AAP’s Kondli MLA Manoj Kumar was arrested on land-fraud charges on a day when its Punjab MP (member of the Parliament) openly criticised the senior party leader Sanjay Singh’s mobile phone message asking report cards from all four Punjab MPs.

AAP says Manoj Kumar is being harassed. His advocate and AAP leader HS Phoolka says his arrest is illegal. Sanjay Singh says Gujarat model is being used to harass AAP leaders in Delhi. Ashutosh and Ashish Khetan are trying to play ‘martyr’ card through their tweets.

And it is just the latest one in the line of fire – in the ongoing row that is besetting the newest political entrant in Indian politics.

Former Delhi law minister Jitender Singh Tomar had to resign after police arrested him in fake degree case. The AAP chose to defend him even on the day he was arrested with party spokespersons waving documents submitted by Tomar as proof of his ‘truthfulness’. He is in jail now and police have reiterated the stand that his degree are fake, after taking him to the ‘educational institutions’ that he claimed he graduated from.

Another AAP MLA, Bhavna Gaur from Palam, is also under scanner for allegedly submitting false poll affidavit. The matter pertains to her educational qualification and a Delhi court has taken cognizance of the matter. The AAP’s Delhi Cantonment MLA Surender Singh is also facing similar allegations.

The Delhi BJP is also demanding immediate action against Akhileshpati Tripathi and Sanjeev Jha, two other AAP MLAs, for leading attack on Burari police station.

Then there are reports of alleged VIP culture. Taking forward the uncommon streak of the government that campaigned around the ‘commonness’ of the common man, the AAP government will bear expenditure of the offices of MLAs in all 70 constituencies including the manpower cost. Delhi Assembly is to bear the cost, so the ‘common man’ is to bear the cost.

‘Doing away with such existing demands’ would be the genuine common-man-type move. Or the AAP’s party funds, if available to the scale, could have been used.

The move immediately comes after the AAP MLAs demanded a salary hike and vehemently defended their demand (even if targeting others for similar moves). The AAP MLAs said they were not able to meet office expenses and asked for a rise.

There may be an element of truth in some cases but when we see the AAP’s history about such moves (and policies), the party loses any chance of getting the benefit of doubt.

The party made 21 of its 63 MLAs parliamentary secretaries, in the name of assisting ministers (minus seven – one chief-minister and six ministers). So many parliamentary secretaries in a government are ‘unprecedentedly’ unprecedented. When the controversial move reached to the court, the AAP government passed a resolution that declared these amenities to these so-called parliamentary secretaries (or MLAs) would be out of the purview of the ‘office of profit’ clause.

Then, there is the case of the Delhi Dialogue Commission. Manned by some AAP heavyweights, opponents allege that it is yet another front to squeeze public money in the name of ‘meeting party promises’. A report in the Asian Age says ‘salary, perks and allowances of some volunteers appointed in the DDC is said to be much higher than the MLAs’.

And the list doesn’t end here.

Such ‘uncommon-man-esque’ moves by a party claiming to be ‘of common men for common men’ give rise to the valid doubts that Arvind Kejriwal did all that, is doing all that, to appease his MLAs after throwing Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan out, to goad them away from the expelled duo who are also the founder-members of the party.

When the political opponents say that the AAP is doing everything but clean politics and honest governance, we have reasons to believe so.

Arvind Kejriwal and his government have been a big letdown in the first six months. This time, it didn’t touch sentimental issues like shunning VVIP culture in Delhi or following strict code of probity. It did offer water and electricity subsidies but the propaganda associated with it is overdone – was totally gaudy and in bad taste. Delhi is yet to see the pace of development that it had seen in the past few years.

A clean and honest government of common men for common men could have begun on a journey to initiate ‘uncommon’ moves for the betterment of Delhi but the AAP government failed Delhiites on that expectation. And the way ahead looks equally befuddled.

The AAP government, so far, has nothing much to talk about but it has given analysts more than enough food for thought to think about and write on its ‘fall from perceived grace’. And when we see it in the context of Arvind Kejriwal’s attempts to promote his ‘personality cult’ through different sorts of advertisements, funded by the public exchequer in Delhi, it all looks even more sinister.

Delhi needs a government that is on the job. Its common man, who has voted for Arvind Kejriwal and his party, needs his development that has to come with the overall development of Delhi. But Arvind Kejriwal is busy playing the games played by those he scoffed at. And he is outsmarting them. He is taking on Narendra Modi. He is in a bitter power struggle with Delhi’s Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung who is Central Government’s representative. He is talking of ‘referendum for full statehood to Delhi’ when there are more pressing issues of governance waiting for some attention by him. Six months into the government but there is no hurry about the Jan Lokpal Bill and no one in the AAP is talking appointing a Lokayukta in Delhi.

The irony is, the AAP is not ‘realizing it the way as the political folks don’t realize it’. It is thinking that it is above all political folks and can try anything after getting rarely high numbers in the Delhi assembly elections. The party thinks that the next Delhi polls are five years away and they are in a safe zone.

Well, founder-members have left it. It has internal bickering in many state units including in Punjab where elections are due in early 2017. And the party is in imminent threat of being converted into a one-man political outfit.

The Aam Aadmi ideal of the Aam Aadmi Party is dying and with it, the hopes of seeing ‘a politics of change’ has taken another beating.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AND ARVIND KEJRIWAL IS NO EXCEPTION..

Students of communication (or mass communication) are told the dictum in the very beginning of their coursework that ‘communication is power’.

Now how many of them assimilate is a matter of another debate but the ‘fact’ is becoming more ‘tactful’ for the political class as we are heading more into the times of political experiments.

And Arvind Kejriwal is no exception.

The ‘class’ believes communication can do anything. The ‘class’ believes communication can empower words and associated images to the extent of reality even if reality itself is non-existent. The ‘class’ increasingly believes in the ‘fact’ that it needs to spread its ‘words’ first. The action may or ‘may not’ follow. That is of least concern or of no concern. Yes, ‘action’ does have heightened ‘concern value’ during election times, but communication must have a ‘blitzkrieg’ sort of presence always.

And Arvind Kejriwal comes from this class.

So, Arvind Kejriwal has come up with a blitzkrieg sort of idea to enhance his governance’s and government’s visibility by enhancing his government’s communication (advertising) budget by some 22 times. It is true that the Aam Aadmi Party, the party that belongs to Arvind Kejriwal (and now Arvind Kejriwal only), shuns any wasteful expenditure – as its founding principle says. But those who are terming this as ‘wasteful’ increase are not seeing the underlying wisdom of Mr. Kejriwal.

Mr. Kejriwal and his party are on the way to do an innovative experiment. Apart from doing work to meet their electoral promises, they also want to see what happens if they don’t meet most of what they have promised. They can afford it as they are just beginning. It is still not five months yet from 14 February 2105 when there government was inaugurated again. And they have five years ahead. So, they can attract ‘some public wrath’ for the overall larger public good. (Yes, such altruism, some selflessness is rare.)

Also, after the ‘class metamorphosis’ of the AAP is complete, it has to do certain damage control exercises.

First, it doesn’t share good relations with media. Media outfits say he is acting like them who happened to be his ‘stated reasons to enter politics to cleanse it’. Now, media is not going to change its view until and unless something groundbreaking happens.

But in order to do something groundbreaking, Kejriwal first needs to experience all political grounds – good, bad, ugly, controversial, appreciative, etc. – and it may lead to negative reporting against him.

And therefore, Kejriwal has taken the task of experiencing controversial ground after his initial offers from Delhi’s coffers to subsidize water and electricity, even if it is giving rise to his increasing criticism.

Kejriwal will weather it, like the ‘class’ usually does in such cases. Yes, to cushion his party members – and the three year old party – with many of its ‘prominent’ members from media – Kejriwal has come with a respite – by increasing the advertising budget – from 24 crore to 526 crore – that is probably largest, many times of many states, for a state government in India – for spreading the word about Delhi government’s good intent – that is evident from his and his ministers’ words – action will follow – as the Delhi government promises.

Yes, media and political opponents will criticise the move citing negative points like the huge increase, like wastage of taxpayer’s money, like no real work on ground, like taxpayer’s money being splurged on practice like spreading the word about the government’s work when there is nothing much to talk about, like the controversy around violating the Supreme Court’s order on political advertisements, like reneging on its poll promises, like diverting funds from development works to fund expenditures like this and so on.

But this Delhi government would take all that. After all, after becoming so uncommon, Kejriwal’s next aim is to make every common man think ‘uncommon’ – the way he has made the AAP think and decide on its future political course of action.

Yes, communication is power and he has initiated ‘tactfully’ with the formal process to live this ‘fact’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/