The ‘come one, come all, this is Liberty Hall’ approach may have increased the ranks of AAP but this comes with a serious downside. Given that there is no particular ideology that holds AAP together other than the fact that the party is against corruption, its supporters seem to be doing pretty much what they please. Not to mention some of its leaders.
The latest example of AAP supporters’ enthusiasm, if it can be called that, going haywire is their unruly behaviour at the Churchgate station in Mumbai where they wrecked metal detectors and caused much anguish to the public with their obstructionist tactics.
It must be recalled that after the 26/11 attacks at the Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus, metal detectors have become vital to the security of railway stations. In destroying them, AAP is putting innocent lives at risk. This is the second instance in recent times that AAP supporters have run amok. Earlier, after AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal was detained by the Gujarat Police, supporters went to the BJP office in Delhi along with leaders Ashutosh and Shazia Ilmi and indulged in unruly and violent behaviour.
This can only harm the party, which is trying to occupy a high moral ground. The problem is that in its eagerness to grow quickly, it is not very discerning about whom it admits into its ranks.
The definition of ‘the aam aadmi’ is very elastic and could encompass all sorts of elements, including those who think it is all right to create chaos. Mr Kejriwal cannot blame his supporters. As chief minister of Delhi, he took to the streets to protest the behaviour of the police. While on dharna, traffic was thrown out of kilter and many commuters, not all necessarily AAP supporters, were stranded.
Now that it aims to be a national party, AAP has to behave far more responsibly. It has to crack the whip on its supporters and its leaders must make it clear that no indiscipline which results in disruption and chaos will be tolerated. The party is still in its infancy and many people are pinning their hopes on it. The first thing to do would be for its supporters to conduct themselves with decorum. Otherwise, the choice between AAP and the rest is that between six of one and half a dozen of the other.