Welcome, AAPians, to our first study class. I have been hopping in and out of Indian political parties of the right, left and centre for the last 30 years and am exceptionally qualified to give you deep insights into how to transform yourselves from a gaggle of activists, rebels, agitators, anarchists and idealists into a mature, disciplined, successful political party. I have, accordingly, formulated the following 10 commandments:
1.Thou must forget about inner-party democracy. Do you think Jayalalithaa or Mamata or Pawar or Sonia or Modi or Mr Patnaik and other strong, mature leaders take decisions by consensus? Dear AAplians, you must either have a High Command or an even Higher Commander. Shanti, please put down that placard saying, ‘Teacher, go home’.
2. Thou must love money. Deng Xiaoping, the architect of double-digit economic growth in China, said it doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice. He meant cash can be black or white, as long as it adds to party funds. Transparency is rubbish. No Somnath, there is no need to ask the people what they think about it. Ask other political parties, if you like.
3. Thou must be a respectable horse-trader. Horse trading is a decent profession, like trading in goats, or sheep, or stocks. Remember, the sole objective of a political party is to win power. No, Ramdas, you cannot sit on a dharna against that.
4. Thou shalt lie through thine teeth. What you promise to the masses in speeches and manifestos is of no importance. Yes, Gopal, you can adopt any ‘ism’ as long as it is opportunism.
5. Thou shalt at all times be pompous. Cracking a joke at yourselves is a no-no. Yes, Arvind, being sanctimonious is allowed.
6. Thou shalt develop thy muscle. If a gangster can deliver the votes, overlook his criminal record and make his brother your candidate. Prashant, please pay attention instead of writing an open letter.
7. Thou must respect caste and religion. If a sub-caste is in a majority in a district, put up a candidate from that sub-caste. Mayank, this is not the place for an anti-caste hunger strike.
8. Thou must stop asking the people to take your decisions. Alexander Hamilton, a founding father of the United States of America, said, ‘Your people, sir, is a great beast.’ No, Professor Chenoy, there is no such thing as the mass line.
9. Love the rich. They provide the funds, they provide the patronage and the jobs. What’s not to like? You’re right, Yogendra, the state is the executive committee of the bourgeoisie.
10. Thou shalt not sting thy own party members. What was that, Ashutosh? How dare you secretly record my speech? What did you say, Manish? You had a video camera in your topi throughout the session? This is outrageous, really shameful. You guys are hopeless, you will never learn. The class is indefinitely suspended.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal