WHY THE POLITICAL EXPERIMENT CALLED AAP FAILED? – THE LEGACY OF THE STRUCTURAL FLAW OF THE ANTI-CORRUPTION MOVEMENT OF 2011

With the drama that culminated in yesterday’s events at the Aam Aadmi Party’s National Council meet where Arvind Kejriwal was officially crowned as the larger than life king of the party, the thought, if there was any behind the move to transition to a political alternative from an activism background, was also officially buried.

And it can be traced back to the core elements that led to failure of the anti-corruption movement of 2011. The movement was led by Anna Hazare. He was the face of it. Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Shanti Bhushan, Kiran Bedi, Yogendra Yadav, Santosh Hegde, Medha Patkar and many others were its active soldiers.

And Arvind Kejriwal was its main strategist. His strategy worked very well when it got the mass appeal of Anna Hazare. But after the brilliant success of April and August legs of the movement in 2011, the slide began.

The December 2011 fast by Anna Hazare in Mumbai was a debacle. Similar was the fate of others that followed.

That leads us to think that the movement was poorly strategized (or was deliberately done so) as when it came to build further on the mass appeal and the localized initial spurt, there were no serious headways. The basic need was the faces beyond the localized pockets in several regions of the country.

But faces didn’t come. Instead, those who had built it, started leaving the movement due to internal differences and ideological rifts. Those who were there tried to maintain their eminence.

The movement ultimately failed due to its structural flaws.

It can be seen in social media response. The traditional media came subsequently. There were many flip-flops on the commitment to the core issue of ‘corruption’. Add to it the personal bickering among the group members and display of personal agenda in the public and we had a perfect recipe for disaster. That too, reflected in the social media trends.

Anna Hazare, the old Team Anna, the new Team Anna and the members of Arvind Kejriwal’s ‘Aam Aadmi Party’, all were in the news throughout 2012 for different reasons. The common thread among them was they were consistently talking about ‘change’ and the ‘politics of change’. Yet, they didn’t stir the imagination of the youth. The social media was almost not talking about them (except the routine stuff and the existing support base).

Anna Hazare was the major factor that led the youth to trust and accept the call. But once it was clear that the movement was hijacked by the vested interests, they simply moved away from it. The vigourous activity on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social media platforms that was there during the April 2011 and September 2011 fasts had flattened later on.

The goodwill eroded – The Team Anna that gave us the AAP had much of the blame to share. Consistent flurry of controversies after August 28, 2011 especially with members like Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Bhushan duo corroded much of the goodwill.

Dislocated functionality – Good names like Rajinder Singh, PV Rajagopal left. Others aired their displeasure about functioning of the ‘core committee’. ‘India Against Corruption’ happened to be a 21-member effort but we were listening to and hearing none but these four-five faces. No replacements came. No fresh faced joined the movement. It had been an area of utter failure that Team Anna created itself.

Empty words – Sometimes impregnated with political overtures like expanding the ‘core committee’ with multilayered structure giving representation to all sections of society like Dalits, Muslims – such promises were made multiple times but nothing happened except confrontation and war of words with the government and its representatives as well as the intensifying internal differences of Team Anna.

Ethically wrong – Campaigning in Hisar was a historical mistake for this anti-corruption movement. When the movement was all about anti-corruption, taking partisan steps even remotely linked to helping someone with questioned credentials win should not have been practiced. Kiran Bedi’s defence of her inflated bills controversy was just absurd. In yet another disappointing move, Anna, more or less, justified his ‘Pawar’s just one-slap’ statement when he blogged about it. Here a Gandhian said that he, apart from Gandhi, believed in Chhatrapati Shivaji, too. So slapping Pawar, according to him, was akin to following values propagated by Shivaji. Smelt of Thackerays! Flatly, just not acceptable!

Unfocused – The much-hyped but left into the oblivion Uttar Pradesh tour was a classical example of resource spoilage. Not much was heard when it came to the summative evaluation of the tour. Days were wasted. Public money was wasted (the tour was funded by money donated by likes of ‘you and me’ during the anti-corruption agitation in Delhi). The anti-corruption movement was not restructured or reoriented for the next step to add more people with it. Instead, big ticket empty announcements like electoral reforms, education reforms, group expansion, anti-government campaigning in the upcoming elections were made again and again.

And similar trajectory can be traced in beginning and the journey so far of the AAP.

To continue..

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

ARVIND KEJRIWAL’S POLITICAL AVATAR: AUGUST 2012 TO MARCH 2015 – ‘MAINSTREAMING’ METAMORPHOSIS IS SELF-EVIDENT

The metamorphosis to a ‘full-time mainstream politician’ – the mainstream that was bashed left, right and centre by Arvind Kejriwal when he had announced to take political plunge on August 3, 2012, before ending his fast – is complete now.

How fast Kejriwal has graduated to it, how efficiently he has donned the different manipulating colours of Indian politics of the day, is self evident when we align his speech that he had delivered while announcing his political foray in August 2012 to the text of the purported tape that emerged yesterday where he is heard hurling abuses on Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, the two senior-most founding members of the Aam Aadmi Party and the anti-corruption platform that Kejriwal so ‘politically’ used to become a ‘full-time politician’.

Here are the key excerpts from his August 3, 2012 speech: (NDTV)

“We have no great love for entering politics. Our aim is not to grab power, but to end the Delhi-centric government and take governance to the villages and the people. Ours will not be a party, but a movement. Ours will have the structure of an andolan, and be what the people want.”

“There will be no party high command and the people will select the candidates. We will go among the farmers and the people and ask them about their problems. They will tell us about their problems and their solutions. We will also go among the youth and ask them about their problems and ask for solutions. Likewise, we will go around the entire country and meet people. They will form the ghoshna patra (manifesto).”

“Our aim is not just to win the polls, it is to challenge all the political parties. I have a vision that in three years, India will change,” he added. General elections will be held in India in 2014.”

Cut to March 2015.

Kejriwal is ‘loudly’ among them now, sitting comfortably in the lot that happened to be the ‘main spark’ for his political plunge.

The excerpts from the latest AAP sting, on Kejriwal, makes it self-evident. Here are the disturbing echoes from the tape: (The Times of India)

Umesh: But I feel that there are problems because you have been kept away. Sir, please get involved.

Arvind: I didn’t come for this kind of fighting. I have no interest in it. You work with Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav. My best wishes are with you. I have not come to fight. If the need arises, then I am thinking of leaving Aam Aadmi Party and forming another party. You manage Aam Aadmi Party. It is a very good team, Prof Anand Kumar…In the past four days, Prof Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha have done kaminapanti, they are so kamina. They said implement RTI, we said alright, we are ready. A dialogue was still on between the two groups then. They said volunteer participation…we agreed to all the demands. And now yesterday they said they were just bargaining. ‘We don’t have any interest’…are you so kamina! What bargaining are you doing? Are you such cheap people? What you call my less capable team is made of pure men. We might be less capable but we have a clean heart. You have a malicious heart and are kameene log. So best wishes to you Umesh.

Umesh: Sir, don’t think like this.

Arvind: No, listen, listen, listen. I don’t want to have any further discussion on this which is why I have kept myself away from this. Now let’s see what they are doing, otherwise I will take my 66 MLAs and break away. You run Aam Aadmi Party. I will have nothing to do with Aam Aadmi Party.

Umesh: Sir please understand, this is not about you or me, this is about the country.

Arvind (shouting): What drama is this that we should all work together? Go speak to them. Un saalon ne harane mein…what you are calling a good team left no stone unturned to ensure that we lost the Delhi election. Now we should take them along? If they were in any other party, they (un saalon ko) would have been kicked out by now. Kameene log hein woh ek number ke. I don’t know what they are.

Umesh: Sir I am not able to see things from that close or understand.

Arvind: Then don’t speak if you can’t see, alright.

From – ‘not a party but a movement’- from – ‘no party high command’ – from – ‘aim is not to grab power’ – from – ‘only about people’ –- to – ‘kaminapanti, they are so kamina’ (bastards) – to – ‘a party synonymous with just one person’ – to – ‘not about people but about Kejriwal’ – to – ‘a high command that is as opaque and dictatorial as any other one person/one family political party – a big letdown – in just two years and eight months.

Kejriwal claimed in 2015 that he had a vision that India will change in three years. Now, it is not even three years and his polity says it is he who has changed his ways to align himself to the political mainstream.

It is not that Arvind Kejriwal has failed the ‘common man’, the ‘aam aadmi’, for the first time. He did it in December 2013 when he formed an ‘opportunistic government’ in Delhi with Congress’s support. Next he did so by deserting Delhi to try his political luck in the parliamentary polls.

With a loss of face there, he again came to the questionable ways of mainstream politics by trying poaching MLAs from other parties to form the government (as yet another sting with his voice purportedly revealed).

All this while he had a benefit of doubt that these were the honest mistakes of an activist-turned politician who was learning ways to make inroads in Indian politics. Coupled with the BJP’s lackluster show on running Delhi during the Central rule in the National Capital Territory of India, he made a blockbuster comeback in the February 2015 Delhi assembly polls.

Arvind Kejriwal and his party projected it as the triumph of the ‘aam aadmi’.

But the developments since then clearly tell us that Mr. Kejriwal has failed the common man once again.

It was not that all was well in the AAP. There were reports of internal rift during the Lok Sabha polls and in the period before and during the the campaigning phase of the Delhi assembly polls.

It is not that Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan were beyond doubt but what Kejriwal did, what followed in the AAP meeting today, clearly let the common man down.

By orchestrating all that happened today, killing internal democracy and crushing voices anti- to him in his party, Kejriwal has betrayed the common man finally.

Because, at any cost, what he is heard speaking on the tape and the drama that he curated today, cannot be accepted, when his political base begins with opposing the mainstream of Indian politics, when he seeks political entry on a ‘promise of politics of change’.

If the AAP was at all a politcal movement as Kejriwal had claimed in August 2012, it is effectively dead now.

The politician Arvind Kejriwal, who abuses his colleagues and crushes political dissent in his party with iron grip, has lost the benefit of doubt that he enjoyed till the Delhi assembly polls.

And it is bound to reflect on upcoming electoral events.

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

WHY ARVIND KEJRIWAL IS LOOKING MORE LIKE ‘THEM’ NOW?

In 2012, Arvind Kejriwal had taken a different path away from Anna Hazare when he had announced his political entry using the platform of the anti-corruption movement of 2011.

He had claimed to cleanse the politics of politicians ‘polluting and ruining’ it.

He had promised a politics of change, of high standards, of no compromises, of absolute transparency, of hope, and of what not.

While taking the dip, he sounded like a social activist who was ready to graduate to political activism.

The writings on his political plunge began and sustained with regular mention of ‘Kejriwal and the AAP Vs mainstream politicians and political parties’ – the entrant Vs the established.

Like it happens, like the ‘writing precedents’ go, the lot Kejriwal comes from are written as the off-stream (or new stream), heading in to take on the ‘mainstream’.

Now, with a self-aborted first term of 49 days, a political foray in its third year, a humiliating loss of face in the general elections 2014, and a second term with a rare electoral win and absolute majority in the Delhi assembly polls, he has started sounding more like the ‘mainstream’.

The win, propelled momentously by the BJP’s poor show on development parameters in Delhi during the Central rule (February 2014 to February 2015), has, it seems, unleashed the ‘mainstream politician’ in Arvind Kejriwal, an alter-ego that was waiting to emerge from the shadows.

Like a very seasoned ‘mainstream’ politician, he stage-managed the ouster of the two senior-most founder members from one of the apex decision making body of the AAP, its political affairs committee. He was in the city, but didn’t attend the meeting where his fans inside the party threw the thorns away.

Whatever is the background behind the hostile sentiments of Kejriwal supporters for Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, it cannot be denied that these two founder-members would have posed real threat for Arvind Kejriwal’s ‘mainstream political ambitions’. Among the many demands of them was ‘asking Kejriwal to leave the AAP convenor position’, a move that would have paved the way for emergence of more power centres in the party with its impending national expansion.

Now, we are well aware of Kejriwal’s national and prime-ministerial ambitions, something that could well be the ambitions of many others in the AAP.

Like Kejriwal saw a brilliant opportunity in the half-baked mandate of the Delhi assembly polls 2013, that fell short of majority, to go national, he would have read with certainty that the absolute mandate is a spectacular opportunity to launch the roadmap for the prime-ministerial ambitions again.

For that, he needs to run the AAP the way he thinks, conceives and proposes (and even opposes).

For it, he needs iron grip on the party, removing obstacles (including people), who could question his authority.

For it, he needs a cult around him in his party where he reigns supreme and others follow him verbatim.

And, it looks, he has started it with sidelining Yadav and Bhushan.

Also, like a ‘mainstream’ politician, he maintained a deliberate and stoic silence while his party was going through the internal churnings.

He left for Bangalore immediately after removal of Yadav and Bhushan from the AAP PAC and spent some 12 days there undergoing treatment for his lifestyle related illnesses, looking (or overlooking) the developments in his party in Delhi and elsewhere.

Tapes and sting-ops came out where Kejriwal was talking like a ‘mainstream’ politician to score political goals. Tapes also came out that showed his party members snooped on own colleagues. Activists like Mayank Gandhi protested the way Bhushan and Yadav affair was handled by the party. Activists like Anjali Damania left the party alleging (like many others who have left in the past) it had gone off-track. Media analysed the whole panorama day after day. Experts wrote about and thinkers criticised the high handedness.

But, Arvind Kejriwal was not heard all this while.

Like a ripened politician, Arvind Kerjiwal now either doesn’t speak or speaks only politically correct, the way ‘mainstream’ politicians prefer to do.

The developments so far tell us he is well on the way of converting the AAP into a one-man party (like many others in India).

And in the light of the recent developments so far, the ‘reported and projected’ political pragmatism of taking Congress’s support to form the government in December 2013 gives way to the counterpoints that it was always a ‘mainstream political move’ pushed by political opportunism.

The developments so far tell us the ‘mainstreaming’ of the politician Arvind Kejriwal is almost complete now.

He is sounding and acting like more and more of ‘them’ now.

And Kejriwal is fast losing the elements that have given him, so far, the benefit of doubt to still be treated as a political activist, an off-stream politician beginning a political journey within the system, to meet the challenges, to deliver on his promises.

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

KEJRI_ALL

Yesterday, Arvind Kejriwal lost the milestone opportunity by playing a la Congress in staying atop all platforms of the Aam Aadmi Party.

with it, the next step in the journey to the metamorphosis of becoming the routine Indian politician of the day was taken by him yesterday.

The signs that Kejriwal aspired to adore his image outreach shadowing all and that he wanted to maintain a tight grip on the political outfit he launched along with many others from the Anna Hazare led anti-corruption movement of 2011 was clearly visible in his first stint of 49 days that he later self-aborted.

Delhi was then inundated with oversized publicity displays of Kejriwal, like every other politician does, the very politicians who Kejriwal derided day in, day out. In fact, in doing so, he had surpassed even her predecessor, Sheila Dikshit.

It was not at all expected from a common man, risen from a movement to seek respite for common men, to go uncommon the way every common man detested.

With his ‘apology outreach’ for ‘deserting Delhi in just 49 days’ and the BJP’s relative non-performance in Delhi that was under the Central rule after Kejriwal’s resignation, he roared back to the power in Delhi with a rare mandate, with the AAP winning 67 of the 70 assembly seats.

It was expected this time that he would respect the mandate given to him by the ‘common man’ by staying a ‘common man’ – millions of this country oppressed under manipulative elements of its functional democracy who see their lives eclipsed regularly.

Yes, it cannot be said that he has failed our expectations.

But it will not be premature if we say that within a month, hostile signs have started emerging on the horizon beyond which lies a political oblivion for Arvind Kejriwal, the activist who became a politician.

The signs, if further continued, will tell us the activist was left somewhere in a ‘nowhere zone’ by the politician in Kejriwal and was never looked back at.

The reports that Arvind Kejriwal stage managed ouster of the two senior most founder members of the Aam Aadmi Party, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, from one of its apex decision making bodies, the political affairs committee, are ominous for those ‘common man’ hopes as they tell Arvind Kejriwal is well on the way to become ‘uncommon’ for them.

The kind of penchant for public display as visible during his first term has already found its extension with his second term in the office. And since the mandate is absolute and is for five years, we are going to see more and more of Arvind Kejriwal on nooks and corners of the Indian National Capital.

Also, he has shown no inhibitions like the last time. He was hooted for opting a luxurious accommodation and had to make a U-turn. Some of his ministers were in news for their ‘VVIP-ness’. This time, the baggage is efficiently discarded. He is moving to an official bungalow. His ministers are following the suit with availing facilities that are routine.

Now, only time will tell if the removal of these symbolic ‘tenets’, that are hugely appealing electorally as they connect directly to the ‘common man sentiments’, are going to have any functional value.

For the moment, the developments tell us again that Arvind Kejriwal had different plans of graduating to a full time ‘mainstream politician’ once he got the much needed lease of political life again. His prospects were badly hit after he left Delhi the last time and he needed a decisive mandate to start all over again.

And a ‘more than decisive mandate’ he got.

Yes, we cannot say so early that he has failed us.

But, the signs of a ‘politician with a mainstreamed thinking’ acting ‘the common man’ way for some ‘purpose’ that were visible even during his first term, have certainly got ‘telling’ manifestations now.

Anyone speaking against him, no matter how senior that colleague is, is shunted or is forced to find his way out of the party. No one in the AAP can question Arvind Kejriwal without facing repercussions. The party has seen exodus of many big names in the last one years. They were either disenchanted as they felt the party was on a wrong way or they felt suffocated with the lack of internal democracy.

‘It’s Kejriwal’s way or the highway in the AAP’ has become a routine source of political discourse centred on the two year old party.

And such developments tell the AAP is on the way to become a one-man party and Kejriwal is in the line to follow the politicians running one-man parties as their family empires.

Its Kejri_all so far – the signs so far tell us so.

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

EVEN THE INTERNET EXTENSIONS OF AAP ARE ASYMMETRICALLY KEJRIWAL

How asymmetrical the whole exercise on addressing the internal differences in the Aam Aadmi Party has been becomes clear from a look on Aam Aadmi Party’s website, its Twitter Page and its Facebook feeds.

Arvind Kejriwal is having a pervasive presence all around there. These screen-shots of AAP website, Facebook and Twitter pages are self evident.

AAP-1

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AAP-4

Yes, there may be the counterpoint that he is the most popular face and has just led the party to a historic win in the Delhi assembly polls, and therefore it is only natural to put him as the mascot of the party on maximum possible platforms. Arguments like ‘people love him and so he is there’ would fly high on hostile questions. And they would be accompanying the central plank that ‘communication platforms on internet are not the places to write about difference in the party. They are tools to engage people on party’s vision and policies and to express party’s views on different developments’.

Yet, there are elements clearly visible that belie all such counterpoints.

Apart from the routine stuff, like talking about the party and its spread, its electoral scales, its views on social and political developments and its Delhi panorama, the website also gives space to the AAP voices critic of those criticising Arvind Kejriwal. The AAP website prominently mentions Sanjay Singh’s criticism of a ”group within the party’ to destabilize it while the ‘critic voices’ like Yogendra Yadav or Prashant Bhushan don’t find any space.

Whatever that happened in the hours long meeting of the AAP today was already scripted and had to come with this outcome only.

Yes, its scale was not known, like how many would oppose the ouster of Yadav and Bhushan. But now as the things are out in open, we find that six of the 19 who votes in meeting today supported Yadav and Bhushan. And it is not a healthy sign for Arvind Kejriwal.

And given the lopsided nature of this exercise, if we come across extensions of it, it would be on the expected lines.

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